Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds., A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997), 13–101.
In this chapter, as in chapter 1, Helen Mar Whitney shares with her readers precious sources, including extracts from her father’s journal. Now sensing the real purpose of her writing, she addresses an audience of young people, recent immigrants, and converts, who are not familiar with the first decades of Latter-day Saint history. She is also aware of a larger non-LDS audience that might, through her essays, better understand the “true history of the faithful women of Mormondom.”
The separate articles making up this chapter were published from 1 July 1880 to 15 June 1881. As in the previous chapter, they are disjointed, jumping back and forth in time and place. As Helen recalls the past, she “cannot resist the inclination of going still farther back” in time. One story reminds her of another, and so the reader continues on a journey that moves from Illinois to Ohio to New York. Suddenly the reader is transported to Kirtland, Ohio, at the time when Helen was five years old (1833). Kirtland was, of course, the first gathering place of the Saints in the last days (1831–38). From Kirtland Helen’s father, Heber C. Kimball, left as part of Zion’s Camp (April–July 1834), and from Kirtland he went on his first mission as one of the twelve apostles (4 May–25 September 1835). All of this Helen details utilizing her father’s diary.
Asking for pardon from her readers, Helen now writes of Utah and of the “topics of today, “as she calls them. She returns to Kirtland and recalls the dedication of the first Latter-day Saint temple in 1836. She continues her story by focusing on the family history of her parents, especially the early history of her father.
This chapter begins to close with a description of Heber C. Kimball’s missionary travels, including a brief summary of his first mission to England (1837–38). The story finally ends following his return to Kirtland when he was on the road again, this time with family and friends, heading toward Missouri in the summer of 1838.
The scenes which are familiar to the Latter-day Saints of an earlier day, are but little known to those who have since been gathered from the different nations, nor to those who have grown up in the peaceful valleys of the Rocky Mountains. Until within a few years, the world knew nothing of our true history. Falsehoods were manufactured and sent out to serve the purposes of our enemies, and apostates have been their willing tools. The bitter prejudices felt by the outside world makes it almost an impossibility for them to believe or become acquainted with our faith and principles; but the history of this people is always interesting to the Latter-day Saints, and incidents of our travels and experience are calculated to benefit the young and rising generation. The spirit of unbelief which has crept into our midst is lamentable, and a stupor seems to have come over a portion of this people, who, I sometimes fear, will need the judgments of God to awaken them from its influence, and we know that they are sure to come upon the slothful and disobedient, if they do not repent.
I can truly say that I feel an interest in the welfare of all, and if some of the incidents of my life could impress the minds of others, as they have my own, I would feel amply repaid for writing them. There seems to be a great curiosity in the minds of strangers about the “Mormon” women, and I am willing, nay, anxious, that they should know the true history of the faithful women of Mormondom. In the brief sketches which have been given from time to time, the trials and sufferings of the Latter-day Saints have scarcely been touched upon. Since writing my reminiscences I have thought of the names of many who lived and died for the truth. Among these was the widow of Brother David W. Patten. She was a noble and self-sacrificing woman, who left all for the gospel’s sake, and her husband being a missionary, she was early thrown upon her own resources, and though she had a slight and delicate frame she had a persevering and energetic spirit, was neat, and naturally of a refined nature and could not be happy in idleness. She was a seamstress by trade and worked for her living. The hardships and privations incident to a western life, particularly to the Latter-day Saints, soon broke her down and brought on consumption. After her husband was killed, she, being, like the rest destitute, felt that she must do something for her support, and not finding anything else that she could do, concluded to take a few boarders. Among them was a young man who, though not a member of our church, bore a good character, and, to be brief, he loved her, and seeing her lonely condition, proposed to marry her. She accepted. This step, at the time, caused many to think her weak in the faith. When we afterwards met her in Quincy, Illinois, she told my parents why she married without asking counsel, said she was no longer able to work and had no one to take care of her, and she knew what the counsel would be if she asked it, and not wishing to disobey, she did it on her own responsibility. As soon as he heard and understood the gospel he received it. After father came to us in Quincy, they having a house with two rooms, gave us one to live in while father went up to Commerce to prepare a place for us. His name was Bentley, he was a carpenter by trade, industrious and well able to provide everything she needed, or desired, and though a number of years younger than she, he was perfectly devoted to her, and his study by day and by night was to make her comfortable. No one could show greater love and tenderness toward a wife than he did, until her spirit took its flight which, if I remember rightly, was the second year after the Saints settled at Nauvoo. He lived but a few years after her death. She was an exemplary woman, and enjoyed the love and respect of all who knew her. While we were living with them in Quincy, when I was about ten years of age, I had a severe attack of fever, and a heavy storm coming on, the weather was quite cold, and not having a fireplace in the room, mother placed a kettle of live coals in the center of the apartment. Just as she stepped out into the other room, my little brother, aged about four years, came in and accidentally fell into the kettle, and burned him badly. I was so frightened that I was upon the point of leaping out of bed when mother heard him scream, but he sprang out before she got into the room and cried for her to anoint him with the consecrated oil. She immediately administered it, and was silently praying, when he cried, “Pray loud.” She obeyed him, and in a few minutes he was sound asleep. He never cried from the burn after the oil was administered, and it was healed from that moment. What a pity we cannot always have faith like a little child, and instead of calling upon doctors who have no faith in the ordinances, call on the Great Physician, who giveth freely to all and upbraideth not. When we can do this, there will be less suffering and fewer graves to weep over.
In the month of July, father moved us up to Commerce; he pulled down an old log stable belonging to a Bro. Bozier, about one mile from the river, and laid up the logs at the end of the Bozier house, which had a number of rooms and contained several families; he put on a few “shakes” to cover it, but it had no floor or chinking; when it rained the water stood near ankle deep on the ground; the chimney of the other house, being built on the outside, served us as a fireplace. My mother, not liking the dirt floor, had a few little boards laid down to serve as a substitute. I remember the evening of the 23d of August, 1839, we were visited by a heavy rain storm, and those boards floated on the water. My mother had bread light and ready to bake in a tin oven or reflector, and it had to be propped up so as to bake the bread before the fire, which was built upon andirons. Under these peculiar circumstances I was allowed to go and stop with one of our neighbors, and when I returned in the morning I was informed that a little stranger had arrived that night. This was truly a wonderful event and created quite a sensation in our midst. He was named after David Patten, and although born in a stable, he was a prince in our estimation. This was their sixth child, four of whom were then living. Father purchased five acres of woodland from Hyrum Kimball, and Brother Parley P. Pratt purchased the same number of acres adjoining. They went to work and cut logs and invited a few of the old citizens; viz.: Brother Bozier, Squire Wells, Louis Robinson and others, to assist in putting up their houses, as our people were mostly prostrated by sickness. Brother Pratt soon sold out his improvements and went with his family on a mission to England. Father was building his chimney and had just got to the ridge of the house when he was taken down with chills and fever. The hardships and exposures consequent on being driven from Missouri in the winter, had made the Saints easy subjects for the ague to prey upon in that swampy country; nearly all were taken down, one after another, and the ones who were not shaking or delirious with fever, would do their best towards waiting upon those that were. Many had to see their dear ones die and not one of the family able to follow them to their last resting place; hundreds were lying sick in tents and wagons. The Prophet visited and administered words of consolation and often made tea and waited upon them himself and sent members of his own family who were able to go, to nurse and comfort the sick and sorrowful. He was often heard to say that the Saints who died in consequence of the persecutions, were as much martyrs as the ones who were killed in defence of the Saints or murdered at Haun’s Mill. There are many living martyrs who remember those days and some will yet wear a martyr’s crown. The powers of darkness seemed to have combined to put a stop to the work of the Almighty, but Satan’s plans have always been frustrated, and they always will be.
One night while we were living in the Bozier House, we were awakened by our mother, who was struggling as though nearly choked to death. Father asked her what was the matter, when she could speak, she replied, that she dreamt that a personage came and seized her by the throat and was choking her. He lit a candle and saw that her eyes were sunken and her nose pinched in, as though she were in the last stage of cholera. He laid his hands upon her head and rebuked the spirit in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the holy priesthood commanded it to depart. In a moment afterwards, some half a dozen children in other parts of the house were heard crying, as if in great distress; the cattle began to bellow and low, the horses to neigh and whinnow, the dogs barked, hogs squealed, and the fowls and everything around were in great commotion, and in a few minutes my father was called to lay hands on Sister Bently, the widow of David Patten, who lived in the next room. She was seized in a similar manner to my mother. They continued quite feeble for several days from the shock.
One day after this circumstance had taken place, my father was visiting the Prophet. In his diary he says: “He took me [for] a walk by the riverside and requested me to relate the occurrence at the Bozier house. I did so, and also told him the vision of evil spirits in England on the opening of the gospel to that people. After I had done this, I asked what all these things meant and whether or not there was anything wrong in me. ‘No, Brother Heber; at that time when you were in England, you was then nigh unto the Lord. There was only a veil between you and Him, but you could not see Him. When I heard it, it gave me great joy, for I then knew that the work of God had taken root in the land; it was this that caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you.’ Joseph then said, the nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power would be manifest by the devil to prevent the accomplishment of the purposes of God. He then gave me a relation of many contests that he had had with Satan, and his power had been made manifest from time to time since the commencement of bringing forth the Book of Mormon.”
In another place he says: “I crossed the river to Commerce with several of the Twelve, and as I was standing by the railing of the boat, looking at the beautiful site of Nauvoo, and I remarked, ‘It is a very pretty place, but not a long abiding place for the Saints.’ These remarks reached Elder Rigdon and family, and caused them to feel somewhat sad, as they were well situated in a nice stone house built by Dr. Isaac Galland, and otherwise comfortably situated. When we met in council in Joseph’s house, the case of * * was brought up for investigation and disposed of in a summary manner. Elder Rigdon then arose and said he had some feelings toward Elder Kimball, saying, ‘I should suppose that Elder Kimball had passed through suffering and privations, mobbings and drivings enough to learn to prophesy good of Israel.’ I began to expect I was going to receive quite a chastisement from Elder Rigdon, knowing his peculiar temperament, I arose upon my feet and said, ‘President Rigdon, I’ll prophesy good concerning you, all the time, if you can get it?’ On hearing that, Joseph had a hearty laugh with the brethren, when Elder Rigdon yielded the point.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 3,
1 July 1880, p. 18
On the 14th day of September, 1839, President Brigham Young left his family at Montrose, and was brought by Brother Israel Barlow to my father’s house, where he remained sick until he started with father on their mission to England. He left his wife with a babe only ten days old, and all his children were sick and unable to wait upon each other. On the seventeenth Sister Young got a boy to carry her up from the river in his wagon to our house that she might nurse and comfort her husband to the hour of starting. My mother’s babe was three weeks old, and she was sick with chills and fever. The day before they started my father had two very heavy shakes of the ague, and was very sick through the night. On the morning of the eighteenth Brother Charles Hubbard sent his wagon and of horses with driver, and their trunks were put into the wagon by some brethren who had come to bid them good-bye. Previous to starting, while they were taking breakfast, father got Brother Hubbard and another brother to cut down an old hollow tree, which hung over the house, it had worried him so that he could not bear to leave till he saw it felled to the ground; when he heard it fall he said, at the time rising from the table, “Now I am ready to go.” The parting scene is best told by himself. He says: “I went to the bed and shook hands with my wife, who was shaking with the ague, having two children lying sick by her side; I embraced her and my children, and bid them farewell; the only child well was little Heber Parley, and it was with difficulty he could carry a two-quart pail full of water from a spring at the bottom of a small hill to assist in quenching their thirst. It was with difficulty we got into the wagon and started down the hill about ten rods; it appeared to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me; leaving my family in such a condition, as it were, almost in the arms of death; it seemed to me as though I could not endure it. I said to the teamster, ‘Hold up.’ Said I to Brother Brigham, ‘This is pretty tough, ain’t it? Let’s rise up and give them a cheer.’ We arose and swinging our hats three times over our heads, we cried, ‘Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah for Israel.’ Vilate hearing the noise arose from her bed and came to the door; she had a smile on her face and she and Mary Ann Young cried out to us, ‘Good-bye, God bless you.’ We returned the compliment and then told the driver to go ahead. After this I felt a spirit of joy and gratitude at having the satisfaction of seeing my wife standing upon her feet, instead of leaving her in bed, knowing as I did that I should not see them again for two or more years.” Although too young to sense the deep anguish which our parents felt yet we children wept bitterly when our father came to bid us farewell, not knowing that we would ever see him again in the flesh. Both he and Brother Young were going away so sick they were unable to get into the wagon without assistance. The scene is so vivid before me that my eyes are blinded with tears as I try to write; but words fail to describe it. Our grief for a time was very great, but the knowledge that they were messengers of the Almighty to carry glad tidings to those who were in darkness that they also might be partakers of the blessings of the gospel of salvation, sustained those who were left. The hymn containing these lines was often sung by us, and appropriate words they were in our desolate condition and they brought sweet comfort:
“In every condition, in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
The following sketch will show how the apostles went forth to preach the gospel. Father says, “we were without purse or scrip, and were carried across the prairie, about fourteen miles, to a shanty near the railway, where Brother O. M. Duel lived. We were unable to carry our small trunks into the house; Sister Duel, seeing our feeble condition, assisted the boy to carry them in; we were very much fatigued. As soon as we got into the house she made us a cup of tea, which revived us, and prepared a bed for us to lie on. * * * * Next morning Brother Duel took us to Lima, about twelve miles. When he left us, he gave each of us a dollar to assist us on our journey. Brother Bidwell then carried us in his wagon to John A. Miksewell’s, near Quincy, about twenty miles. The fatigue of this day’s journey was too much for our feeble health. We were prostrated and obliged to tarry a few days in Quincy, when we began to recover. The brethren preached a few times in a meetinghouse close to the Congregationalist church. They commenced their meeting at different hours from the brethren, therefore they took a notion to disturb us by ringing their bell furiously after we had commenced our meeting. At one time, Elder John E. Page preached so loud as to drown the noise of the bell, and thus brought some hundreds who otherwise would not have come to meeting. I was prostrated with the chills and fever, and stayed most of the time at the house of Sisters Laura and Abigail Pitkin, who bestowed every kindness upon me they possibly could. Dr. Orlando Hovey, Sister Staley and her daughter were very kind to me, and administered to me in my feeble state.
“September 25th. We left Quincy at 11 a.m., feeling considerably better. My sorrow was great to see so many of our brethren sick and dying, in consequence of being driven from Missouri, and exposed to hunger and cold. Brother Lyman Wight took us in a one-horse wagon and carried us to Brother C. C. Rich’s, at Burton, where we stayed through the night. Brother Wight predicted many things, and left his blessing with us when he bade us farewell. May God bless him and save him in His kingdom.
“26th. Brother Rich carried us to Brother Wilbur’s; while on the road the chills came on me again, and I suffered much pain and fatigue.
“On the 27th Brother Wilbur took us in a buggy about 25 miles, to the home of James Allred, in Pittsfield, 111.
“28th.—Father Allred carried us to the place where Brother Harlow Redfield lived, where we preached to a small branch of the Church on Sunday 29th.
“30th.—Brother Rodgers carried Brother Brigham to Brother Decker’s, and myself to Mr. Roswell Murray’s, my father-in-law, they were living within a few rods of each other, near Winchester, in Scott County. Here we also found a few brethren in the church, who had been smitten and robbed of their property in Missouri; they were once more in comfortable circumstances, rejoicing in the Lord.
“October 1st. We were carried to Lorenzo D. Young’s, a brother of President Young, where we stayed and recruited our strength until the 4th, when he carried us to Jacksonville, where we stayed the night. A sister in the Church hired a horse and buggy to carry us to Springfield, and Brother Babcock drove us there, a distance of 35 miles, where we were kindly received by the brethren, and nursed. Brother Brigham was confined to his bed by sickness; Brother Libeus T. Coon, who was practicing medicine, attended upon him. Here he found Brothers George A. Smith, T. Turley and R. Hedlock. I went from house to house strengthening and comforting the brethren, and teaching them the things of the kingdom. I was so far recovered that I preached on the Sabbath, which caused a great feeling of love towards us; they got a two horse wagon and harness, for which they paid fifty-five dollars, and collected thirty-five dollars in money for the company. Judge Adams, one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the state of Illinois, took me to his house. I stayed with him three nights and the most part of three days. He gave me five dollars when I left. I think he will come into the Church soon. My father-in-law went with me to visit his family and friends in the East.
“October 11th.—Resumed my journey in company with the brethren. We exchanged horses in Springfield; and with the assistance we received from the brethren living there, we succeeded in obtaining one horse and a two horse wagon, in which the sisters fitted up a bed for Brother Brigham to ride on, as he was unable to sit up. We traveled eight miles with the three horse team, and put up at the house of Father Draper.
“October 12th.—We pursued our journey towards Terre Haute, traveled all day; most of the brethren being very sick, I walked most of the way, at night I slept in the wagon with Father Murray and Brother Hedlock and caught cold; next morning I had to go until twelve o’clock before I had anything to eat, and then it was transparent pork and corn dodger; the wagon broke down twice, and the chills came on me about two in the afternoon, and held me till night, and then the fever held me all night. I had the chills and fever three days, and lost my appetite.
“The third chill was so severe that it seemed as though I could not live till night. We arrived at Terre Haute about dusk on the 17th. Bro. Young and I put up at Dr. Modisett’s. Brothers Smith, Turley, Hedlock and Father Murray stayed at Milton Stowe’s, who lived in one of the doctor’s houses. In the evening the doctor went to see them, as they were quite ill in health, and Brother Stowe very poor. The doctor expressed great sympathy for them when he returned to the house, relating over the poverty of Brother Stowe and the brethren’s ill health, and seeing them lying on a straw bed on the floor, he shed many tears to see the brethren going under such suffering circumstances upon such a long mission; but he did not have quite sympathy enough to buy them a chicken to make them some broth, or even give them a shilling, although he was worth four or five hundred thousand dollars; he said his taxes amounted to over four hundred dollars a year.
“In the evening I became very ill. The doctor said he could give me something that would do me good, that would relieve me of my distress, and I would probably get a nap, but the old man was so drunk that he did not know what he did, and he gave me a tablespoonful of morphine; his wife saw him pour it out but dared not say a word, although she believed it would kill me. In a few minutes after I took it I straightened up in my chair complaining of feeling very strange and wanted to lie down, on my attempting to go to bed I reeled and fell to the floor. There was hardly a breath of life in my body. Brother Brigham rolled me over on my back and put a pillow under my head and inquired of the doctor what he had given me and then learned that he had given me morphine. I lay there for a long time; when I came to, Brother Brigham was attending to me with a fatherly care, and manifesting much anxiety in my behalf. I said to him, ‘don’t be scared, for I shan’t die.’ In a short time he got me on the bed and nursed me through the night. * * * * It was through the closest attention of Brother Young and the family that my life was preserved through the night. I was scarce able to speak so as to be understood. In the morning the brethren and Father Murray came to see us. The brethren laid their hands on me and prayed for me. When they left me they wept like children. Father Murray felt very sorrowful, said he, ‘We shall never see Heber again, he will die.’ I looked up at them and said, ‘never mind brethren, go ahead, for Brother Brigham and I will reach Kirtland before you will.’ Brigham gave them all the money we had except five dollars, and told them to take good care of the team and make all possible speed to Kirtland. They started that day. In about an hour after they departed I arose from my bed.
“October 22nd. Elder Babbit and Dr. Knight, an eminent physician, came from Pleasant Garden to see me. * * * * Brother James Modisett took us in his father’s carriage twenty miles to the house of Brother Addison Pratt, from thence we were carried to Pleasant Garden. We found a few brethren, and remained there three days preaching to the few brethren, and those who wished to hear. * * * ** Dr. Knight and some others gave us some money to assist us on our mission.
“October 25th.—I received a letter from my wife giving an account of her sickness since I left, also of the children William and Helen. I wrote her a comforting letter in reply, praying the Lord to bless her and the little ones.
“26th.—Brother Babbitt took me in his buggy twelve miles, to the house of Brother Scott; they were very glad to see us, and we tarried with them through the night.
“27th, Sunday.—Brother Scott sent his little son John, who carried us to Belleville, fifteen miles, several miles of the journey in a rain storm, which obliged us to put up at an inn for the remainder of the day and night. Brother Brigham was very sick and obliged to go to bed. I sat up to wait upon him, and spent the evening with the landlord and his lady preaching to them; they received our testimony and were very kind to us.
“28th.—The landlord rose up very early and talked to the citizens about the travelers who had stayed with him the night previous, and what he had heard us say concerning the gospel. The neighbors flocked in, made many inquiries and were very anxious we should tarry and preach in the place. The landlord said several times he hoped the stage would not come, that we might stay and preach, as the people were very much excited by having had a great discussion between two popular religious preachers recently. The stage, however, came along about 10 o’clock, and we started on our way towards Kirtland, and we left the landlord in tears. While in Pleasant Garden we obtained some money, so that with the five dollars we had left when the brethren left us on the 18th, now amounted to $13.50. When we got into the stage we did not expect to ride many miles. We rode as far as Indianapolis, Ind., paid our passage, and found we had sufficient means to carry us to Richmond, Ind. When we arrived at Richmond, we found we had means to take us to Dayton, to which place we proceeded and tarried over night, waiting for another line of stages. We expected to stop here and preach until we got means to pursue our journey. Brother Brigham went to his trunk to get money to pay the bill, and found we had sufficient to pay our passage to Columbus, Ohio, to which place we took passage in the stage and tarried over night. When we paid the bill, he found he had sufficient means to pay our passage to Wooster. We tarried until the after part of the day and then took passage for Wooster. When we arrived there, Brother Brigham went to his trunk again to get money to pay our bill and found enough to pay our passage to Cleveland. When we got to a little town called Strongsville, about twenty miles from Cleveland, towards evening, Brother Brigham had a strong impression to stop at a tavern when we first came into the town, but the stage did not stop there, and so we went on. We arrived at Cleveland about eleven o’clock at night, took lodgings, and remained until next evening. November 3d, Sunday, in the morning, we went to the Episcopalian Church. While returning to the hotel, we met my father-in-law and learned that Elders Smith, Turley and Hedlock had just arrived in Cleveland. Father Murray was as much astonished to see me alive as though he had seen one risen from the dead. I don’t think I ever saw a man feel better than he did when I met him on the street. We walked with him a short distance and met the brethren, who were in good health, compared with what they had been, and in fine spirits. We learned that they stopped at the tavern at Strongsville, where Brother Brigham had such strong impressions to stop the night previous. They had picked up Elder John Taylor at Dayton, where he was left at a tavern, very sick with the ague and fever a few days before, by Father Coltrin, who proceeded to Kirtland. Brothers Taylor and Hedlock got into the stage with us, which left early in the afternoon; they rode as far as Wil-loughby; we proceeded to Kirtland and arrived the same evening, where we found a good many brethren and friends, who were glad to see us, thus fulfilling the prediction made on my sick bed. Brother Brigham had one York shilling left, and on looking over our expenses, we found we had paid out over $87.00 out of the $13.50 we had at Pleasant Garden, which is all the money we had to pay our passage with. We had travelled over 400 miles by stage, for which we paid from eight to ten cents a mile, and had taken three meals a day for each of which we were charged fifty cents, also fifty cents for our lodgings. Brother Brigham often suspected that I put the money in his trunk, or clothes, thinking I had a purse of money which I had not acquainted him with, but this was not so; the money could only have been put in his trunk by some heavenly messenger, who administered to our necessities daily, as he knew we needed.
“There was a division of sentiment among the brethren in Kirtland, many of whom lacked the energy to move to Missouri and some lacked the disposition. Nov. 10th, Sunday. Elder John Taylor preached in the temple in the forenoon, I preached in the afternoon; by way of comparison, and had freedom, and compared them to a parcel of old earthern pots that were cracked in burning, for they were mostly apostates that were living there. Immediately after I returned to the house of Ira Bond; Martin Harris, Cyrus Smalling and others came in and attacked me on what I had been saying, asking me who I referred to in my comparisons; said I, ‘to no one in particular, but to anyone that the coat fits.’ I was so sick that I referred them to Brother Hedlock, who came in at that moment, to talk with, as I was laying in bed having a chill and not able to talk. John Moreton and others declared I never should preach in the house again; some of the people tried to make me angry, so as to quarrel with me, but they failed.
“Nov. 16th I made my home at Dean Gould’s in the house of Ira Bond. They and families were all very kind to me, and made me as comfortable as they could, I stayed with them most of the time, I was in Kirtland, during which the weather was very stormy. I am thankful I got rid of the chills this time without the aid of medicine, but I continued afflicted with a cough which I caught by riding in the stage through the nights.
“17th, Sunday. Brother Brigham preached in the forenoon, Brother John Taylor in the afternoon. In the evening Brother Brigham anointed Brother Taylor in the House of the Lord, he having previously washed himself in pure water; then we all went to the temple. I was called upon and opened the meeting by prayer, when Brother Brigham anointed him with oil, and pronounced such blessings upon him as the spirit gave utterance. Brother Taylor then arose and prayed. Bro. Theodore Turley, one of the Seventies, was then anointed by Daniel S. Miles, one of the presidents of the Seventies; both of which anointings were sealed by loud shouts of Hosannah! then their feet were washed and the meeting closed. A council was held with Brothers Kellog, Moreton and others, who took the lead in Kirtland; we proposed that some of the elders should remain there and preach for a few weeks. John Moreton replied that they had had many talented preachers, and he considered that men of such ordinary talents as were on this mission, could do no good in Kirtland, he thought probably that Brother John Taylor MIGHT do, but he was not sure.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 4,
15 July 1880, pp. 25–26
The last sketch from my father’s history having taken me back to the earlier scenes of my childhood, I cannot resist the inclination of going still farther back. The names of some of those mentioned by him are very nearly connected with my earliest and fondest recollections, not only in Kirtland, Ohio, but in Mendon, in the state of New York, where I was born. Brother John Moreton and family were our nearest neighbors in Mendon; also Ira Bond’s and one or two other families who stopped in Kirtland. They received the gospel and moved up there nearly at the same time we did. They seemed so near to us that my parents grieved over their apostasy.
Brother Brigham Young, with his wife and two little girls, lived with us in Mendon; Mrs. Young died in a few months after they came there, and my mother took care of his children from that time until after we moved to Kirtland, Ohio. We were like one family for years, and I had supposed Brigham and Joseph Young to be my uncles until years after. I loved them and their sister Fanny, who was afterwards married to my Grandfather Murray, more dearly than I did most of my own relatives, for we left them all when we went to Kirtland. Aunt Fanny Young was living with my parents when I was born, and took care of me, and she was always ready to defend me if necessary. Uncle Joseph was unmarried, and always stopped with us when in Mendon. I was frequently asked the question which I loved the best, Pa, Uncle Brigham or Uncle Joseph; I would never give but one answer, “I love you all at once.” Brothers Brigham and Joseph have often reminded me of my “first love.” If I had a leaning towards one more than another it was Uncle Joseph, as he was without any family, and I was the first to expect and to receive his sugar plums and kisses.
The following interesting items are from my father’s history: “The family of John Young, Sen., consisted of five sons, five daughters, and two sons-in-law; John P. Green and Joel Sandford moved into Mendon about two or three years previous to hearing of Mormonism. They belonged to the Reformed Methodists. They were in lowly circumstances, and seemed to be an afflicted people, in consequence of having a great deal of sickness and sorrow to pass through, and of course were looked down upon by the flourishing church where we lived. To them my heart was united, because a principle had existed in my heart from my earliest childhood to plead the cause of suffering innocence—to go on the side of the oppressed at all times. I have many times turned aside from the company of those who were highly esteemed in the world, and sought the society of the poor and humble, even those who loved the ways of the Lord better than the praise of the world. These families had the same principles in their breasts which I had in mine, for truth was what we wanted.” * * * The following paragraph is from my father’s journal: “On the night of September 22d, 1827, while living in the town of Mendon, after I had retired to bed, John P. Green, who was then a traveling Reformed Methodist preacher, living within one hundred steps of my house, came and waked me up, calling upon me to come out and behold the scenery in the heavens. I woke up and called my wife and Sister Fanny Young (sister to Brigham Young), who was living with us; we went out of doors—it was one of the most beautiful starlight nights, so clear that we could see to pick up a pin. We looked to the eastern horizon and beheld a white smoke arise towards the heavens; as it ascended it formed itself into a belt, and made a noise like the rushing of a mighty wind, and continued southwest, forming a regular bow dipping in the western horizon. After the bow had formed, it began to widen out and grow clear and transparent of a bluish cast; it grew wide enough to contain twelve men abreast. In this bow an army moved, commencing from the east and marching to the west; they continued marching until they reached the western horizon. They moved in platoons, and walked so close the rear ranks trod in the steps of their file leaders, until the whole bow was literally crowded with soldiers. We could distinctly see the muskets, bayonets and knapsacks of the men, who wore caps and feathers like those used by the American soldiers in the last war with Britain; also saw their officers with their swords and equipage, and heard the clashing and jingling of their instruments of war, and could discover the form and features of the men. The most profound order existed throughout the entire army; when the foremost man stepped, every man stepped at the same time; I could hear the steps. When the front rank reached the western horizon a battle ensued, as we could distinctly hear the report of the arms and the rush. No man could judge of my feelings when I beheld that army of men, as plainly as I ever saw armies of men in the flesh. It seemed as though every hair of my head was alive. This scenery we gazed upon for hours, until it began to disappear. After I became acquainted with Mormonism I learned that this took place the same evening that Joseph Smith received the records of the Book of Mormon from the angel Moroni, who had held those records in his possession. John Young, Sen., and John P. Greene’s wife Rhoda were also witnesses of this scenery. My wife being frightened at what she saw, said: ‘Father Young, what does all this mean?’ He replied in a lively, pleased manner, ‘Why, it’s one of the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.’ The next night similar scenery was beheld in the west by the neighbors, representing armies of men who were engaged in battle.”
My parents had never professed any religion until about three weeks previous to hearing this gospel, they joined the Baptist Church; but as soon as they heard the principles of Mormonism declared by some elders who came from Pennsylvania, they felt that it contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel, and that they had only received a part. Father says: “Brigham Young and myself were constrained by the spirit to bear testimony of the truth which we had heard, and when we did this the power of God rested upon us.” * * “Upon one occasion Father John Young, Brigham, Joseph and myself had gathered together to get some wood for Phineas H. Young; while we were thus engaged we were pondering upon the things which had been told to us by the elders, and upon the Saints gathering to Zion; and the glory of God shone upon us, and we saw the gathering of the Saints to Zion and the glory that would rest upon them, and many more things connected with that great event, such as the sufferings and persecutions which would come upon the people of God, and the calamities and judgments which would come upon the world. These things caused such great joy to spring up in our bosoms that we were hardly able to contain ourselves; and we did shout aloud, ‘Hosanna to God and the Lamb!’ These things increasing our desires to hear more, I took my horses and sleigh and started for Columbia, Bradford County, Pennsylvania—distance one hundred and twenty-five miles; Brigham and Phineas Young and their wives went along with me. We stayed with the Church there about six days, attended their meetings, heard them speak in tongues, interpret and prophesy, which truly caused us to rejoice and praise the Lord. We returned home confirmed in the truth, but were not yet baptized, and as we were on our way we bore testimony to the truth of those things which we had seen and heard, and to our friends and neighbors; many received our testimony and became members of the Church. April 14, 1832, Brigham Young went forward and was baptized by Eleazer Miller, and the next day Alpheus Gifford came into my shop while I was forming a vessel upon the wheel, and while conversing with me upon the subject of this work, I said: ‘Brother Alpheus, I am ready to go forward and be baptized.’ I arose from my seat, pulled off my apron, washed my hands and started with him. * * * I went the distance of one mile, where he baptized me in a small stream in the woods. After I was baptized I kneeled down, and he laid his hands upon my head and confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ And before I got up off my knees he wanted to ordain me an elder; but I plead with him not to do it, as I felt myself unworthy of such a calling and such an office. In about two weeks my wife was baptized by Brother Joseph Young, with several others, when we numbered about thirty in that branch. * * * Under the ordinances of baptism and laying on of hands I received the Holy Ghost as the disciples did in ancient days, which was like a consuming fire, and I felt as though I was clothed in my right mind and sat at the feet of Jesus. Although the people called me crazy, I continued in this way for many months, and it seemed as though my flesh would consume away; at the same time the scriptures were unfolded to my mind in such a wonderful manner that it appeared to me at times as if formerly I had been familiar with them. This alarmed the professing world around us, and raised the devil to a great rage; still our minds were calm and filled with peace, while the wrath of our enemies was raised to such a degree that they persecuted us. During one week some of those who had professed to be my greatest friends in the Baptist Church, and others, persecuted me to such a degree that five or six executions were taken out against me, and I turned out property to secure the same to their great disappointment; God having opened my way so that I obtained money to pay all my debts and liberate myself from them, so that none of my property was sold at auction. In the meantime, during my greatest trouble not one of them was willing to step forward to assist me, excepting my brethren in the Church and my brother Solomon. May God bless my brethren, and reward those my enemies according to their works.
“September 18, Bro. Brigham Young’s wife, Miriam, having been feeble for months, died. In her expiring moments she clapped her hands and praised the Lord; she continued in this happy state, and when her voice was too weak to be heard, her lips and hands were seen moving until she expired. This was another testimony of the powerful effect of the everlasting gospel, showing that we shall not die, but we shall sleep. * * * In these scenes and other afflictions we felt to rejoice in the Lord. * * * In September, Brothers Brigham and Joseph Young and myself went up to Kirtland, Ohio, in my wagon, to visit the Prophet. * * * We saw Brother Joseph Smith and had a glorious time, during which Brother Brigham spoke in tongues before Joseph, this being the first time that Joseph had heard the gift of tongues. He rose up and testified that the gift was from God, and then the gift fell upon him and he spoke in tongues himself; he afterwards declared it was the pure or Adamic language which he spoke. * * * We had a precious season, and returned with a blessing in our souls. I continued rejoicing in the Lord and bearing testimony that God had spoken from the heavens, and of the things I had received, until I sold my possessions and settled up my affairs. In the fall of 1833 I packed up my goods, took my horses and wagon and started for Kirtland, Ohio; but to my great surprise, some of my neighbors issued attachments against my goods, although I was not indebted to any one of them to the value of five cents, for I had been particular in such matters, that I was well aware I was not indebted in any sum to any person, unless two cents to one man, in a case where change could not be procured, although there were some hundreds of dollars due me, which I was obliged to leave uncollected; I settled their unjust claims. Elder Brigham Young and his two children went with me; we arrived in Kirtland about the last of October or first of November.”
When we first went there we lived in a house belonging to Mr. Elijah Smith, uncle to Mother Whitney. In the meantime, father built a small frame house, which was put up by Uncle Brigham, who was a carpenter and joiner, and also a painter and glazier.
“Soon after our arrival in Kirtland,” says father, “there was a contribution called for to finish the schoolhouse and printing office; I contributed the glass for the house and I gave Brother Hyrum Smith two hundred dollars for the building of the temple. The brethren were engaged in building the House of the Lord. * * * The Church was in a state of poverty and distress, in consequence of which it appeared almost impossible that the commandment to build the temple could be fulfilled. At the same time our enemies were raging and threatening destruction upon us, and we had to guard night after night, and for weeks were not permitted to take off our clothes, and were obliged to lay with our firelocks in our arms to preserve Brother Joseph’s life and our own. Joseph was sued before a magistrate’s court in Paines-ville, on a vexations suit. I carried him from Kirtland to Painesville, with four or five others, in my wagon, every morning for five days, and brought them back in the evening. We were often waylaid, but managed to elude our enemies by rapid driving and taking different roads. Esquire Bissell defended the Prophet and he came off victorious. At this time our brethren in Jackson County, Missouri, were also suffering great persecution; about twelve hundred were driven, plundered and robbed, their houses burned, and some of the brethren were killed. Mobs were organized around Kirtland, who were enraged against us, ready to destroy us. * * * Joseph gathered together as many of the brethren as he conveniently could, with what means they could spare, to go up to Zion to render all the assistance that we could. We gathered clothing and other necessaries to carry up to our brethren and sisters who had been plundered, and putting our horses to the wagons and taking our firelocks and ammunition, we started on our journey, leaving only Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and a few aged workmen who were engaged at the temple; so that there were very few men left at Kirtland. Our wagons were about full with baggage, &c, consequently we had to travel on foot. We started on the 5th of May, and truly this was a solemn morning to me. I took leave of my wife and children and friends, not knowing whether I would see them again in the flesh, as myself and brethren were threatened both in that country and in Missouri by enemies, that they would destroy us and exterminate us from the land.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 5,
1 August 1880, pp. 38–39
After being gone from home about three months, my father and brethren returned to Kirtland, finding us well and enjoying the comforts of life. He says: “I felt to rejoice in the Lord that he had preserved my life through many dangers seen and unseen, and brought me to behold my family in peace and prosperity. After being at home two weeks resting myself, I concluded I had finished my mission to which the Lord had called me, and I established my pottery, according to Joseph’s counsel, and continued about three months, until cold weather came on. * * Calculating on the opening of spring to commence on a larger scale, thinking, as did Peter of old ‘I go a fishing.’ I had got an idea similar to that which the ancient apostles had when the Savior was taken from them, and they went a fishing, so I went to the mechanic’s shop.”
While my father was absent with Zion’s Camp, my mother and most of the sisters in Kirtland were engaged in knitting and spinning and making garments for those who were laboring on the temple. My mother toiled all summer. She took a hundred pounds of wool to spin on shares, which, with the assistance of a girl, she spun in order to furnish clothing for the brethren; and although she had the privilege of keeping half the quantity of wool for herself, as a recompense for her labor, she did not reserve any, but gave it to those who were engaged in building the temple. When the cloth was woven she got it dressed and cut and made up into garments, and gave them for the same purpose. She was a self-sacrificing woman, always studying the comfort of others; her happiness was never complete only when adding to that of her friends, or relieving some poor soul. Her kind acts caused many a heart to rejoice, and to bless the hands which had administered to their wants. I remember the delicious crackers she used to make and send to the sick in Kirtland. In making them she was thought to excel, and people who had heard about them would come from a distance to hire her to make them for the sick in their families. One reason for my remembering this so well is that my brother and I had to pound the dough, which was one of the main causes for their being so tender and good, and not being overly fond of work it became very irksome.
She enjoyed the love and respect of everyone, and she never wanted for anything if her circumstances were made known. She truly enjoyed her religion. I was her youngest child living; was hardly seven years old when my father went East on his first mission, but I remember how happy she used to seem. Often in the morning I would awaken and hear her praying, and then she would go about her daily duties singing so sweetly, it seemed to me as though heaven and the angels were not very far off. I used to think it impossible for me to ever become a Saint. I looked upon my parents as such, but thought that nothing short of perfection could take us to heaven, which I could never attain to, as I was so fond of fun and amusement that I could not possibly give them up, though I often had very serious reflections upon the subject, and used to think if I could only know just a little time before I was to die, I might be able to sober down and prepare myself. In that early day we were full of sectarian notions, and our ideas were rather contracted. We had many traditions which took time to overcome. The following incident will show the effect of early teachings, if they are not corrected:
A day or two after our arrival in Kirtland, my brother and I were sent to school with Mr. Elijah Smith’s two children, Mariette and Guy. The girl was two or three years the eldest, and I was placed in her charge. Their parents were Presbyterians. While returning from school the first day, she told me everybody who did not join the Presbyterians would have to go to h——ll, where they would burn forever in fire and brimstone; this so frightened me that I hastened home to tell my mother, who soon quieted my fears. My grandfather and Aunt Fanny (as we always called her) had moved up to Kirtland sometime previous to our going, and had made the acquaintance of Mr. Smith and his maiden sister who were relatives of mother Whitney, and had engaged her house for us, Aunt Sarah Smith was bitterly opposed to Mormonism, but she thought so much of grandpa Murray and his wife that she consented to our living in her house until spring; but during the winter they became just as much attached to my parents, and I always felt as welcome there as I did in my own father’s house. Mr. Smith’s wife had been sick some time previous to our coming there and she died in a few days after, but just before her departure she sent for my father to administer to her. Aunt Sarah was very kind and indulgent to children and I often stayed with them nights, but we were not allowed to play out of doors after sundown Saturdays, as their Sabbath commenced at that hour. My Grandfather Murray was not a member of any church; he believed the principles of Mormonism, and was often upon the point of being baptized, when he would see things in individuals who professed to be Saints which would so try him he thought he stood as good a chance to be saved as anyone. A more noble kind-hearted man never lived, he was generous to a fault, and some were unprincipled enough to take advantage of it. He was very ingenious and could make anything from a child’s run-a-round to a rocking horse and carriage. He was never known to refuse a favor, and he would often rise from his bed when he was sick to go and do a job of work to accommodate a neighbor. He was a man of but few words and some called him an infidel, but while visiting his children in the East, he was taken sick, and before he died he expressed his regret for not having obeyed the gospel.
Aunt Fanny was a true Saint, and was beloved by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance; her sympathies were always exercised for the poor and distressed. She was agreeable society for old or young and many an evening her young acquaintances would gather at her house to hear her sing or relate the “Scottish Chiefs,” “Children of the Abbey,” and other like tales, which she could do as I never heard anyone else. She had been a great reader; and I was named by her after the Scottish Lady, Helen Mar.
The Youngs were all gifted singers and when they sang together they made a grand choir. Aunt Fanny sang many beautiful songs, but the one I loved best was “Oft in the stilly night.” She had a clear melodious voice, and sang with such pathos, that all present would be affected to tears. The words are so touching and so expressive that I often repeat them as applicable to my own feelings.
How fondly we cherish the memories of the good old times, old friends and old scenes, which are endeared to us by recollections of joys, griefs and pain. I dearly love to read old letters and look over the old relics which so remind me of other days, and I love to hear the old songs we used to sing.
I was about five years old when we moved to Kirtland. I remember my native town, and many things which happened while living there are as fresh in my mind as are the scenes in Missouri; but none are so dearly cherished as are the sweet memories in and around dear old Kirtland. It is true they were short, but I look back to it as the spot where the happiest days of my childhood were spent. When we started for Missouri I was delighted, as children commonly are, at the prospect of a change, going to a new country, although some of my little mates tried to frighten me with awful tales about being eaten alive by the Missourians, who were cannibals with horns; but I was not to be convinced, though I have heard that there are people silly enough to believe similar tales about the “Mormons”; our living there in Missouri may have given us the name, but the nearest that I ever saw were those called “Mormon eaters.” For years after we left Kirtland I used to look back and pine for the old scenes and school companions; those happy days were lived over again and again in bright dreams, and when I would awaken, the thought that I should never again see the dear old hills and wander over them and through the woods to gather nuts and berries, and pick the wild flowers and wintergreen which grew thickly under our feet; nor in the lovely meadows, where we used to gather the white and also the gaily dressed lilies; nor the orchards, where in early spring I used to go with hymn or story book and sit alone and sing, or listen to the little birds chirping and warbling as it seemed their sweet songs of praise for the beautiful spring, and I would feel perfectly happy; and also the red schoolhouse, and the little brook behind it, and the larger stream which ran near our home, where the black walnut and maple trees grew, and where in the spring we made the luscious maple sugar, and in the fall we gathered the nuts and apples for the winter—I would think of all these things; and among other pleasing recollections were our Sunday Schools, where I used to love to go and recite verses and whole chapters from the New Testament, and we received rewards in primers, etc., which I think were more highly appreciated in those days than they are at the present time. At ten o’clock we would form in line and march with our teachers up to the temple. The thought that I could never see or enjoy them again would make me sad, and sometimes I would cry bitterly.
I feel unwilling to close without taking a peep into my father’s potter shop where we would stand and watch and wonder how he ever learned to manage the clay so skilfully as to turn out the numerous and curiously shaped jars and dishes of all sorts and sizes. Occasionally it was found necessary to throw the lump back into the mill where it had to be ground over as it had refused to be molded into a vessel of honor. It was no wonder he so often made use of this parable. I remember the cunning little dishes and toys he would make for me which I generously divided with my mates who were less fortunate. We never wanted for any comfort as long as he worked at his trade which was a very profitable one, and previous to hearing “Mormonism” he was carrying on a flourishing business in that part of the country where he lived and was in comfortable circumstances and highly respected by the community, but when this gospel saluted the ears of my parents they gladly embraced it and sacrificed their good name and all they had for the sake of everlasting riches. Some wept over them and others treated them with scorn. My mother’s eldest brother, who was living in Rochester, N.Y., came to visit us in Kirtland. He pleaded with them to turn from their delusion, and when he found he could not move them, he appeared heart-broken. He had watched over my mother from an infant and always called her his pet sister, and to see her there in such lowly circumstances without hope of earthly comforts made the separation doubly hard to bear, and added to this was a feeling of mortification to see them living and associating with a people so despised as the “Mormons.” He was a noble and kind-hearted man but too proud to humble himself so far as to accept of the true gospel of Christ, after being driven by different winds of doctrine he at last died a spiritualist.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 6,
15 August 1880, p. 42
I had intended to pass on without farther mention of Zion’s Camp, but in looking over their history I find it contains so much that is interesting, as well as suggestive, that I am inclined to copy a portion of it for the perusal of those who are interested in the work of God, believing that it will be a source of comfort as well as instruction to the Saints who have had to drink of the cup of sorrow, and have been tried in the furnace of affliction. The following is from my father’s journal:
“There were about one hundred brethren in our company who started for Zion. These brethren were all young men, and nearly all elders, priests, teachers, or deacons. The second day we arrived at New Portage, * * at which place, on the 7th, we made regulations for traveling, and appointed a paymaster, whose name was Frederick G. Williams, and put all our monies into a general fund; some of the brethren had considerable, and others had little or none, yet all became equal. * * We then proceeded on our journey twelve miles, to the Chippeway River; here we pitched our tents under a fine grove.
“The next day we were divided into companies of twelve each, and captains were appointed over each company. I then organized my company in the following manner, appointing two to attend to cooking, two to see that fires were made, two to prepare the tent at night and prepare the bedding, and also to strike the tent each morning, two to fetch and provide water, one to do the running, two to see to the horses, see the wagon was greased, and everything prepared for starting; my business was to see that the company was prepared for, and to see that all things were done in order. Our living was generally very good, being able to buy bread from the bakers or inhabitants on the way through the settled part of the country. After this we purchased flour and had to bake our own bread; we sometimes had to live on johnny-cake and corn dodger, and sometimes our living was scant. Every night before we went to bed we united in our tent and offered up our prayers before the Lord for protection. This was done by all of the companies at the sound of the trumpet; and at the sound of the trumpet in the morning every man was upon his knees, each one being called upon in his turn to be mouth in prayer. The same order was attended to in each tent.
“There were general officers appointed over the company, viz.: Joseph Smith, commander; Dr. F. G. Williams, quartermaster and historian of the camp; Zerubbabel Snow and Nathan Tanner, commissioner of subsistence; Sylvester Smith, adjutant, and Roger Orton, captain of the guard. On the 8th we started on our journey, and on Saturday, the 10th, we passed through Mansfield and camped for the Sabbath in Richfield. * * * When we came to Belle Fountain we first discovered refractory feelings in Sylvester Smith. * * *
“On Saturday, the 17th, we passed into Indiana, just over the line betwixt the states of Ohio and Indiana, where we camped for the Sabbath, having traveled forty miles that day; our feet were very sore and blistered, and our stockings were wet with blood, the weather being very warm. I walked most of the journey, letting the lame and footsore ride in my stead. I frequently invited the prophet to ride, seeing him lame and footsore; on such occasions he would bless me with a hearty good will. My team performed the journey very well.
“During the night a spy from the enemy attempted to get into our camp, but was stopped by the guard. We had our sentinels or guards appointed every night, on account of spies continually harassing us. This evening there was quite a difficulty between some of the brethren and Sylvester Smith, on occasion of which Brother Joseph was called to decide the matter. Finding quite a rebellious spirit in Sylvester Smith, and to some extent in others, he said they would meet with misfortune, difficulties and hindrances, ‘and you will know it before you leave this place’; exhorting them to humble themselves before the Lord and become united, that they might not be scourged.
“A very singular occurrence took place that night and the next day concerning our teams. On the following morning when we arose we found almost every horse in the camp so badly foundered that we could scarcely lead them a few rods to the water. The brethren then deeply realized the effects of discord. When Brother Joseph learned the fact he exclaimed to the brethren that was for a witness that God overruled and had his eye upon them, that all those who would humble themselves before the Lord should know that the hand of God was in this misfortune, and their horses should be restored to health immediately; and by twelve o’clock the same day the horses were as nimble as ever, with the exception of one of Sylvester Smith’s, which soon afterwards died. * * *
“May 21st we passed through Indianapolis, * * where we crossed White River. * * We had been threatened by our enemies that we should not go through the town, but we passed through unmolested; everything appeared to be in perfect silence as we went through, although the people looked aghast, as if fear had come upon them. * * * On Sunday, the 25th, we arrived at the edge of Illinois. * * On the 26th we resumed our journey. At night we were alarmed by the continual threatening of our enemies. I would here remark that notwithstanding so many threats were thrown out against us, we did not fear nor hesitate to proceed on our journey, for God was with us, and angels went before us, and we had no fear of either men or devils. This we know because angels were seen. * *
“On Sunday, June 1st, we had preaching all day, and many of the inhabitants of the town came out to hear. Brother John S. Carter preached in the morning. * * Brother Joseph proposed that some of the brethren should set forth different portions of the gospel in their discourses. He called upon Brother Joseph Young to preach upon the principles of free salvation. He then called upon Brother Brigham to speak, who set forth baptism as essential to salvation. He was followed by Brother Orson Hyde, who proved by the scriptures that baptism was for the remission of sins. Lyman E. Johnson spoke at some length upon the necessity of men being upright in their walk and keeping the Sabbath day holy. Brother Orson Pratt delivered an excellent discourse on the principles of the final restoration of all things. The services of the day were concluded by a powerful exhortation from Eleazer Miller. His voice was said to be heard a mile and a half. * * Brother Miller was one of the first that brought the gospel to us in Mendon, N.Y., and when he used to retire to a little grove near my house for secret prayer, he would get so filled with the spirit and the power of the Holy Ghost, that he would burst out into a loud voice, so that he was heard by the surrounding inhabitants for more than a mile.
“After the services were over many strangers were in our camp making remarks upon the preaching which they had heard. They said Brother Joseph Young, by his preaching, they should judge was a Methodist; they thought Brigham Young was a close communion Baptist; Orson Hyde they supposed was a Campbellite, or reformed Baptist; Lyman E. Johnson, a Presbyterian, and Orson Pratt a Restora-tioner. They inquired if we all belonged to one denomination. The answer was we WERE some of us Baptists, some Methodists, some Presbyterians, some Campbellites, some Restorationers, &c.
“On Sunday morning, when we passed through Jacksonville, they undertook to count us, and I heard one man say, who stood in the door of a cabinet shop, that he had counted a little rising of five hundred, but he could not tell how many there were. This thing was attempted many times in villages and towns as we passed through, but the people were never able to ascertain our number.
“While traveling in Indiana some spies came into our camp; while we were eating dinner on the 21 st of May, three gentlemen came riding upon very fine-looking horses, and commenced their inquiries of various ones concerning our traveling in so large a body, asking where we were from and where we were going. The reply was, as usual—some from the state of Maine, another would say I am from York State, some from Massachusetts, some from Ohio, and some replied, ‘We are from the East, and as soon as we have done eating dinner we shall be going to the West again.’ They then addressed themselves to Dr. Williams, to see if they could find out who the leader of the camp was. He replied, ‘We have no one in particular.’ They asked if we had not a general to take the lead of the company. The reply was, no one in particular. ‘But,’ said they, ‘is there not some one among you whom you call your captain, or leader, or superior to the rest?’ He answered, ‘Sometimes one and sometimes another takes charge of the company, so as not to throw the burden upon any one in particular.’ These same spies who had come from the West passed us that same day and the next.
“On Monday, June 2d, we crossed the Illinois River. The enemies had threatened that we should not pass over, but we were ferried across without any difficulty. Here we were counted by the ferryman, and he declared we were five hundred in number, although there were only about one hundred and fifty of us; our company had increased since we started from Kirtland, in consequence of many having volunteered and joined us from the different branches of the Church through which we had passed on our journey. * * *
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 8,
15 September 1880, p. 59
On Tuesday, the 3d, several of us went with Joseph Smith, Jun., to the top of a mound on the bank of the Illinois River, which was several hundred feet above the river, and from the summit we had a pleasant view of the surrounding country. We could overlook the tops of the trees and the meadow or prairie on each side the river as far as our eyes could extend, which was one of the most pleasant scenes I ever beheld. On the top of the mound there was the appearance of three altars, which had been built of stone, one above another, according to the ancient order; and the ground was strewn over with human bones. This caused in us very peculiar feelings, to see the bones of our fellow-creatures scattered in this manner, who had been slain in ages past. We felt prompted to dig down into the mound, and sending for a shovel and hoe, we proceeded to move away the earth. At about one foot in depth we discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire; and between two of his ribs we found an Indian arrow, which had evidently been the cause of his death. * * * The same day we pursued our journey. While on our way we felt anxious to know who the person was who had been killed by that arrow. It was made known to Joseph that he had been an officer who fell in battle in the last destruction among the Lamanites, and his name was Zelph. This caused us to rejoice much to think that God was so mindful of us to show these things to his servant. Brother Joseph had inquired of the Lord and it was made known in a vision. While we were refreshing ourselves and teams, about the middle of the day, Brother Joseph got up in a wagon and said he would deliver a prophecy. After giving the brethren much good advice, he exhorted them to faithfulness and humility, and said the Lord had told him that there would a scourge come upon the camp, in consequence of the fractious and unruly spirits that appeared among them, and they would die like sheep with the rot. Still, if they would repent and humble themselves before the Lord, the scourge in a great measure might be turned away; ‘but as the Lord lives, this camp will suffer for giving way to their unruly tempers’—which afterwards did take place to the sorrow of the brethren.
“The same day, when we had got within one mile of the river Snye, we came to a very beautiful little town called Atlas. Here we found honey, for the first time on our journey, that we could buy. * * * There was a great excitement in the country through which we had passed, and also ahead of us; the mob threatened to stop us, guns were fired in almost all directions through the night; Brother Joseph did not sleep much, if any, but was through the camp pretty much during the night. We pursued our journey on the 4th, and camped on the bank of the Mississippi River. Here we were somewhat afflicted, and the enemy threatened much that we should not cross over the river out of Illinois into Missouri. * * When we had all got over, we camped about one mile from the little town of Lousiana, in a beautiful oak grove, immediately on the bank of the river. At this place there were some feelings of hostility again manifested by Sylvester Smith, in consequence of a dog growling at him while he was marching his company up to the camp, he being the last that came over the river. The next morning Brother Joseph said that he would descend to the spirit that was manifested by some of the brethren, to let them see the folly of their wickedness. He rose up and commenced by saying: ‘If any man insults me or abuses me, I will stand in my own defence at the expense of my life; and if a dog growl at me, I will let him know that I am his master.’ At this moment Sylvester Smith, who had just returned from where he had turned out his horses to feed, came up, and hearing Brother Joseph make those remarks, said: If that dog bites me I’ll kill him.’ Joseph turned to Sylvester and said, If you kill that dog I’ll whip you’; and then went on to show the brethren how wicked and unchristianlike such conduct appeared before the eyes of truth and justice.
“On Friday, the 6th, we resumed our journey. On Saturday night we camped among our brethren at Salt River, and prepared for the Sabbath. * * Here we were joined by Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight, with another company. The camp now numbered two hundred and five men, all armed and equipped as the law directs. It was delightful to see the company, for they were all young men, with one or two exceptions, and in good spirits. We were now reorganized in the following order: Joseph was acknowledged commander in chief; Lyman Wight was chosen general of the camp; then Brother Joseph chose twenty men for his life guard, I being one of the number; Brother George A. Smith was Joseph’s armor bearer; Hyrum Smith was chosen captain of the life guard; the remainder of the camp was organized into companies as before stated. We had twenty-five wagons, two horses in each, and some three. One day while we remained here our general marched us out on a large prairie; he then proceeded to inspect us, examine our firelocks, &c. Afterwards we were marched in platoons, and an object being placed, we discharged our pieces, in order to try them; we were drilled about half a day and then returned to the camp.
“My first attempt at washing my clothes took place at Salt River. My shirts being extremely dirty, I put them into a kettle of water and boiled them for about two hours—having observed that women who washed boiled their clothes, and I supposed by so doing they boiled out the dirt; I then took them and washed them, endeavoring to imitate a woman washing as near as I could; I rubbed the clothes with my knuckles instead of the palm of my hand, and rubbed the skin all off my knuckles, so that my hands were very sore for several days. My attempts were vain in trying to get the dirt out of my clothes. I wondered at this considerably; I scolded and fretted because I could not get the dirt out, and I gave it up, and wrung and hung them out to dry. Having no flat irons to iron them, I took them to Sisters Holbrook and Ripley to get them ironed; when they saw them they said I had not washed my clothes. I told them I had done my best; although I had boiled them two hours before washing, and had washed them so faithfully I had taken the skin off my knuckles, still I had not been successful in getting the dirt out. They laughed heartily, and informed me that by boiling them before washing I had boiled the dirt into them.
“On the 15th we again resumed our march: Many of the inhabitants went with us several miles; they seemed to have much respect for us. We traveled about fourteen miles and camped on a large prairie.
“On Wednesday, the 18th, at night we camped one mile from the town of Richmond, Ray County. On the 19th we arose as soon as it was light and passed through the town before the inhabitants were up. As Luke Johnson and others were passing through, before the teams came along, Brother Luke observed a black woman in a gentleman’s garden near the road. She beckoned to him and said, ‘Come here, massa,’ she was evidently much agitated in her feelings. He went up to the fence and she said to him: ‘There is a company of men lying in wait here, who are calculating to kill you this morning as you pass through.’ This was nothing new to us, as we had been continually threatened through the whole journey and death and destruction seemed to await us daily. This day we only traveled about fifteen miles; one wagon broke down, and the wheels run off from the others, and there seemed to be many things to hinder our progress, although we strove with all diligence to speed our way forward. Our intentions were, when we started, to go through to Clay County that day; but all in vain.
“This night we camped on an elevated piece of land between two branches of the Fishing River. Just as we halted and were making preparations for the night, five men rode into the camp and told us we should see h——1 before morning, and such horrible oaths as came from their lips I never heard before. They told us that sixty men were coming from Richmond who had sworn to destroy us; also seventy more were coming from Clay County, to assist in our destruction. These men were black with passion and armed with guns, and the whole country was in a rage against us, and nothing but the power of God could save us. All this time the weather was fine and pleasant. Soon after these men left us we discovered a small black cloud rising in the west, and not more than twenty minutes passed away before it began to rain and hail, but we had very little of the hail in our camp; all around us the hail was heavy. The thunders rolled with awful majesty, and the red lightnings flashed through the horizon, making it so light that I could see to pick up a pin almost at any time through the night; the earth quaked and trembled, there being no cessation; it seemed as though the Almighty had issued forth his mandate of vengeance. The wind was terrible. Many trees were blown down, and others twisted and wrung like a withe. The mob came to the river two miles from us, but the river had risen to that height that they were obliged to stop without crossing over. The hail fell so heavy upon them that it beat holes in their hats, and in some instances even broke the stocks off their guns. Their horses tied, leaving their riders on the ground; their powder was wet, and it was evident the Almighty fought in our defense; This night the river raised forty feet. In the morning I went to the river, in company with Brothers Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Brigham Young and others, as we had it in contemplation to proceed that morning to Liberty, Clay County; but we could not continue our journey as there was no way to cross the river, it was then overflowing its banks; previous to this rain falling it was no more than ankle deep; such a time was never experienced by us before. Still we felt calm all night and the Lord was with us. The water was ankle deep to us all night, even on that eminence, so we could not sleep. *
* * The next day when we moved into the country we saw that the hail had destroyed the crops, and that it had come in some directions within a mile, and in other directions within half a mile of our camp.
* * We went a distance of five miles on a prairie to get food for our horses, and also to get some provisions for ourselves, and to get into some secure place where we could defend ourselves from the rage of the enemy. We stayed there three or four days, until the rage of the people was somewhat allayed.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 9,
1 October 1880, p. 66
On the 21st Colonel Sconce and two other leading men from Ray County came to see us, desiring to know what our intentions were, for said he, ‘I see that there is an Almighty power that protects this people, for I started from Richmond, Ray County, with a company of armed men, having a fixed determination to destroy you, but was kept back by the storm and was not able to reach you.’ When he came into camp he was seized with such a trembling that he was obliged to sit down in order to compose himself. When he desired to know what our intentions were, Brother Joseph arose and began to speak, and the power of God rested upon him. He gave a relation of the sufferings of our people in Jackson County, and also many of our persecutions, and what we had suffered from our enemies for our religion; and that we had come one thousand miles to assist our brethren, to bring them clothing, and to reinstate them upon their own lands; that we had no intention to molest or injure any people, but only to administer to the wants of our afflicted brethren; and that the evil reports which were circulated about us were false, and were circulated by our enemies to get us destroyed.
“After he had got through, * * the power of which melted them into compassion, they arose and offered him their hands, and said they would use their influence to allay the excitement which everywhere prevailed against us. They accordingly went forth and rode day and night to pacify the people. They wept, because they saw we were a poor, afflicted people, and our intentions were pure. The next day the sheriff of that county, named Neil Gilliam, came to deliver a short address to us. We formed into companies and marched into a grove a little distance from the camp, and there formed ourselves into a circle, and sat down upon the ground.
“Previous to Mr. Gilliam’s address he said: ‘I have heard much concerning Joseph Smith, and I have been informed that he is in your camp; if he is here, I would like to see him.’ Brother Joseph arose and said, ‘I am the man.’ This was the first time he was made known during the journey of one thousand miles. Mr. Gilliam then arose and gave us some instructions concerning the manners and customs of the people, their disposition, &c, and what course we should take in order to gain their favor and protection. * * *
“Being in want of salt, I took it upon me to go to some of the inhabitants and get some; Brother Cyrus Smalling took his rifle and went along with me. After passing through a path enclosed by hazel brush, about two miles from the camp, I discovered a deer standing across the path; I made motions to Bro. Smalling, and he, drawing up his rifle over my shoulder, which served for a rest, fired and hit the deer; it ran a few rods and fell. We cut a pole, and fastening the deer on it, got it over our shoulders and carried it along to the camp, when we dressed it and divided it among the different companies, and had an excellent feast.
“Here Brothers Ezra Thayer and Thomas Hayes were taken sick with the cholera. We left them there, and also Bro. Joseph Hancock, who had been taken with the cholera during the storm, and who was the first person attacked with it. Brother Joseph called the camp together, and told us that in consequence of the disobedience of some who had not been willing to listen to his words, but had been rebellious, God had decreed that sickness should come upon us. * * ‘I am sorry, but I cannot help it.’ When he spoke these things it pierced me like a dart, having a testimony that so it would be.
“On the morning of the 24th we started for Liberty, Clay County, where our brethren were residing who had been driven from Jackson County. * * * When we were within five or six miles of Liberty, General Atchison and several other gentlemen met us, desiring that we would not go to Liberty, as the feelings of the people in that place were much enraged against us. Changing our course and bearing to the left, we pursued our way across a prairie; then passing through a wood we came to Bro. Sidney Gilbert’s, where we camped on the bottom of Rush Creek, in a field belonging to Brother Burgess.
“The destroyer came upon us, as we had been warned by the servant of God. About 12 o’clock at night we began to hear the cries of those who were seized. Even those on guard fell, with their guns in their hands, to the ground, and we had to exert ourselves considerably to attend to the sick, for they were stricken down on every hand. Thus it continued till morning, when the camp was separated into several small bands, and were dispersed among the brethren.
“I was left at the camp in company with Joseph B. Noble, John D. Parker, Luke Johnson and Warren Ingalls, in care of those who were sick. We stayed with and prayed for them, hoping they would recover; but all hope was lost, for about six o’clock in the evening John S. Carter expired. When the cholera first broke out he was the first who went forward to rebuke it, when he was immediately seized by it, and was the first who died. In about thirty minutes after, Seth Hitchcock died; and it appeared as though we must all sink under the power of the destroyer. We were not able to obtain lumber to make them coffins, but were under the necessity of rolling them up in their blankets and burying them in that manner; we placed them on a sled, which was drawn by a horse about half a mile, and buried them in a little bluff by the side of a small branch of Rush Creek; this was accomplished by dark.
“Our hopes were that no more would die; but while we were uniting in prayer with uplifted hands to God, we looked at our beloved brother, Eber Wilcox, who was gasping his last. At this scene my feelings were Beyond expression. Those only who witnessed it can realize anything of the extent of our sufferings; and I felt to weep and pray to the Lord that he would spare my life, that I might behold my dear family again. I felt to covenant with my God and my brethren never to commit another sin while I lived. We felt to sit and weep over our brethren, and so great was our sorrow that we could have washed them with our tears. To realize that they had traveled a thousand miles through so much fatigue to lay down their lives for their brethren increased our love for them.
“Brothers Brigham and Joseph Young came from Liberty and assisted us to bury Bro. Wilcox; their presence gave us much consolation. About twelve o’clock at night we placed Bro. Wilcox on a small sled, which we drew to the place of interment, with one hand hold of the rope, and in the other we bore our firelocks for our defense. While two were digging the grave, the others stood with their arms to defend them.
“While Brother Luke Johnson was digging, the cholera attacked him with cramping and blindness. Brother Brigham laid hold of him and pulled him out of the grave, and shook him about, talked to him, and prayed for him, and exhorted him to jump about and exercise himself, when it would leave him for a few moments; then it would attack him again, and thus we had the greatest difficulty to keep the destroyer from laying us low. Soon after we returned, another brother was taken from our little band; thus it continued, until five out of ten were taken away.
“It was truly affecting to see the love manifested among the brethren for each other during this affliction. Brother Joseph, seeing the sufferings of his brethren, stepped forward to rebuke the destroyer, but was immediately seized with the disease, and I assisted him a short distance from the place, when it was with difficulty he could walk. All that kept our enemies from us was the fear of the destroyer which the Lord had sent among us. After burying these five brethren I was seized by the hand of the destroyer as I went into the woods to pray; I was instantly struck blind, and saw no way whereby I could free myself from the disease, only to exert myself by jumping and threshing myself about until my sight returned to me and my blood began to circulate in my veins; I started and ran some distance, and by this means, through the help of God I was enabled to extricate myself from the grasp of death.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 11,
1 November 1880, p. 82
On the 26th, A. S. Gilbert, keeper of the Lord’s storehouse, signed a letter to the governor, in connection with others, which was his last public act; for he had been called to preach, and he said he would rather die than go forth and preach the gospel to the wicked gentile nations. The Lord took him at his word; he was attacked with the cholera, and died about the 29th. Brothers Erastus Rudd and Jesse J. Smith, a cousin of the prophet, died at Bro. Gilbert’s about the same time.
“While we were here, the brethren being in want of some refreshments, Brother Luke Johnson went to Brother to get a fowl, asking him for one to make a broth for Bro. Eber Wilcox and others, but it was denied him, Brother saying, in a few days we expect to return back to Jackson County, from whence we were driven, and he should want them. When Brother Johnson returned he was so angry at for refusing him he said: ‘I have a great mind to take my rifle and go back and shoot his horse.’ I told Luke never mind, that such actions never fail to bring their reward. Judge how we felt, after having left the society of our beloved families, taking our lives in our hands, and traveling about one thousand miles through scenes of suffering and sorrow, for the benefit of our brethren, and after all to be denied a small fowl to make a little broth for brethren in the agonies of death. Such things never fail to bring their reward; and it would be well for the Saints never to turn away a brother who is penniless and in want, or a stranger, lest they may one day or other want a friend themselves.
“I went to Liberty, to the house of Peter Whitmer, which place I reached with difficulty, being much afflicted with the disease that was among us. I stayed there until I started upon my return home. I received great kindness from them, and also from Sister Vienna Jaques, who administered to my wants and also to my brethren. May the Lord reward them for their kindness. While I was here a council was called, which I attended. The Church was organized, a presidency and high council chosen, and many were chosen to go to Kirtland to be endowed.
“From that time the destroyer ceased, having afflicted us about four days; sixty-eight were attacked with the disease. Fourteen members of Zion’s Camp died, eighteen died altogether; the remainder recovered, as we found out an effectual remedy for this disease, which was, by dipping the person afflicted into cold water, or pouring it on him. Some of the brethren, when they were seized, plunged themselves into the stream and obtained immediate relief. * * * This led us to try the experiment on others, and in every case it proved highly beneficial and effectual where it was taken in season. During our stay in Missouri, Brother Joseph B. Noble was very sick, and was taken care of by Elders Brigham and Joseph Young at the house of Joel Sanford. It was with great exertion that his life was preserved, and that by the application of cold water, being drawn out of a well and poured upon him daily and hourly. The sufferers invariably besought us to plunge them into pools or springs of cold water, while their thirst for the same was very great. While our fears were it would be an injury to them, yet by the blessing of Heaven it was the only means of saving them that were saved from the cholera. Brother Noble’s life was yet despaired of, but he was resolute, and nothing would satisfy him but to return home. * *
“Brother Joseph received a revelation saying that the Lord had accepted our offering, even as he accepted that of Abraham; therefore, he had a great blessing laid up in store for us, and an endowment for all; and those who had families might return home, and those who had no families should tarry until the Lord said they should go.
“I received an honorable discharge, in writing, from the hand of our General, Lyman Wight. * * * Before we separated, the money which had been put into the hands of our paymaster, and had not been used, was equally divided among the company; making one dollar and sixteen cents each. The brethren who had no money when we started from Kirtland received an equal share with the rest.
“June 30th I started for home, in company with Lyman Sherman, Sylvester Smith, Alexander Badlam, Harrison Burgess, Luke Johnson, and Zera Cole, with Brother Sylvester Smith’s team, as I had disposed of mine. About this time Brother Brigham Young started with about the same number that was with me, with James Foster’s team. After proceeding about three miles, we stopped and made arrangements for traveling. They chose me to be their captain, and all put their money into my hands, which amounted to forty dollars. From thence we proceeded until we came to Brother Thomas B. Marsh’s, his wife gave us some dinner, when we proceeded on our journey. May the Lord bless her for it! We crossed a branch of the Fishing River in a scow, and when we were pulling our wagon out of it the scow was sinking. Here an enemy came and swore he would shoot us. * * We pursued our journey until we came to the Missouri River, which we crossed in a scow; the current was so rapid that it carried us down one mile. After we had crossed the river and traveled about two miles, we came into the village of Lexington, where we were threatened some by our enemies, but the Lord protected us. From thence we proceeded daily, receiving no harm. We passed through the town of St. Charles, which looked very gloomy, as the cholera had nearly desolated the place. After traveling about eight miles we came to Jack’s Ferry, on the Missouri, where we again crossed the river. We then proceeded about five miles, and stopped to take some refreshments, when we were again accosted by one of our enemies, who swore he would kill us that night; we traveled about ten miles after sunset and camped in the woods. The Lord again delivered us from the hands of our enemies.
“We proceeded on our journey daily, the Lord blessing us with health and strength; the weather was very hot, still we traveled from thirty-five to forty miles a day, until about the 26th of July, when we arrived in Kirtland.”
It was Sunday when the news came to Kirtland of the death of the brethren from cholera, and the Saints were quietly dispersing from afternoon meeting. I was with my mother and Sister Eber Wilcox on the flat opposite the Gilbert and Whitney store, when the word came. The scene that followed no pen can describe; the shrieks and cries of the bereaved were heartrending, and made a vivid and lasting impression upon my mind. We accompanied Sister Wilcox to the house of Brother Bond, where the night was spent in sorrow and lamentation.
“At this time the brethren were laboring night and day building the house of the Lord. Elder Rigdon, when addressing the brethren upon the importance of building this house, spake to the effect that we should use every effort to accomplish this building by the time appointed; if we did, the Lord would accept it at our hands, and on it depends the salvation of the Church, and also of the world. Looking at the sufferings and poverty of the Church, he frequently went upon the walls of the building, both by night and day, and wept, crying aloud to the Almighty to send means whereby we might accomplish the building. After we returned from our journey to the West, the whole Church united in this great undertaking, and every man lent a helping hand. Those who had not teams went to work in the stone quarry and prepared the stones for drawing to the house. The prophet being our foreman, would put on his tow frock and tow pantaloons and go into the quarry; the presidency, high priests and elders all alike assisting. Those who had teams assisted in drawing the stone; these all laboring one day in the week, brought as many stones as supplied the masons through the whole week. We continued in this manner until the walls of the house were reared. * *
“In the winter of 1834–5 I attended the theological school established in Kirtland, in which the lectures on faith contained in the book of Doctrine and Covenants originated. A certain number were appointed to preach at each meeting. On one occasion I was called upon to speak on the principle of faith. Several brethren spoke before me and quoted every passage mentioned in the scriptures on the subject; I referred to an original circumstance which took place in my family: My wife, one day when going out to make a call, gave my little daughter, Helen Mar, a charge not to touch the dishes which she had left standing on the table, as, if she broke any during her absence she would give her a whipping when she returned. While my wife was absent, my daughter broke a number by letting the table leaf fall; and then she went out under an apple tree and prayed that her mother’s heart might be softened, that when she returned she might not whip her. Although her mother was very punctual when she made a promise to her children to fulfil it, yet when she returned she had no disposition to chastise the child. Afterwards the child told her mother that she had prayed to God that she might not whip her.
“Joseph wept like a child on hearing this simple narrative and its application, and said it was well timed.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 12,
15 November 1880, p. 90
I remember the circumstance which my father refers to, of my disobedience, or carelessness, and my deep repentance. I was then but a little child, and this was almost the first sad lesson which I remember of learning by experience. I was playing under the table, and hardly realized what I was doing until the leaf fell with the dishes, when I was horror-stricken. My brother, who was older than myself, solemnly, though needlessly, reminded me of what I might expect. I had been taught that there was a higher power, and I went and cried to God to forgive me and to soften my mother’s heart, that she might not punish me; and that simple prayer was heard and answered, which greatly increased my faith in Him.
I often think, could we always be obedient, or even willing to repent and humble ourselves like a little child, how much less sorrow and suffering we would have in this life; but how prone we are to wander from the path which is marked out by a kind and merciful Father. “Experience is a hard, but a profitable school-master.”
I am often reminded of some of my father’s sayings and comparisons which he was accustomed to use when preaching on the stand, or in the chimney corner to his family or friends who might happen to be visiting them. The following will no doubt sound familiar to many more beside myself: “We are all sons and daughters of God, and He desires to save and exalt us; but He has a rod prepared for the disobedient and rebellious, and the farther we go from Him the more keenly we will feel the lash, and the end of it will cut the deepest; but the nearer we are to Him, the less it will hurt us. And for this reason I want to keep up as near to Him as possible.” Often he would turn to me with a sly twinkle and say, “Here’s Helen, she had to be whipt into obedience”; and I always admitted it, saying: “Yes; whom He loveth He chasteneth”; when he would burst out into one of his peculiar laughs.
According to my father’s record, the 14th day of February, 1835, was the day appointed for choosing the Twelve Apostles; it was far from his expectation that he would be one of the number. He says:
“Sunday morning, April 5. The Twelve had not all as yet been together, and as the time drew near that we should travel to the East, we appointed this day to bear our testimony unto our brethren and friends. We were all assembled together, with the exception of Brother Orson Pratt, who had not yet been with us. At the time we were praying and wishing for his arrival, while opening the meeting, he entered the house, and we rejoiced at his presence, and thanked the Lord for it. He was then ordained, and we proceeded to speak according to our ages. This day Brothers Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball spoke. Sunday, 12th, Brothers Orson Hyde, William E. McLellen, Luke Johnson and Parley P. Pratt spoke. Sunday, 19th, Brothers William Smith, Orson Pratt, John F. Boynton and Lyman E. Johnson spoke, closing the testimony of the Twelve Apostles to the people in Kirtland at that time. Sunday, 26th, we received our charge from Joseph Smith the Prophet.”
The following is a sketch of the first mission taken by the Twelve Apostles. My father says: “May 3d we bade our brethren farewell, and on the morning of the 4th we started and proceeded to Fairport, where we arrived precisely at six o’clock. A boat was there, as Brother Joseph had predicted, on which we embarked for Dunkirk, where we arrived the same day, at four o’clock in the afternoon. The next morning we got together and divided off two by two. Brother William Smith and myself went to Casadagua, about twelve miles from Fredonia, and put up at Harry Morehouse’s. Held two meetings, giving them a fair proclamation of the gospel and the Book of Mormon, and there was no opposition. From thence we went to Westfield, where we met the remainder of our quorum, and on Saturday, the 9th, we met in conference with the elders of this branch of the Church, and also those at the little branch at Savonia, who were called upon by Thomas B. Marsh, our presiding elder, to represent to us the standing of the brethren. We had public preaching on Sunday, and continued our council on Monday; we had a good time, and thirteen were baptized. I started from Westfield on Tuesday, the 12th, in company with Elder John F. Boynton, to preach our way through to the Freedan Conference. We passed through Lodi and put up at Brother Murdock’s; my feet were so blistered I could not wear my boots, nor proceed without.
“We arrived at Freedan, Cataraugus County, and assembled on the 22d of May in conference. From hence I traveled in company with Elder O. Hyde to Pike Hollow, where resided many of my wife’s relatives, appointed a meeting and preached twice, baptized three; and the Lord was with us. We then proceeded to the town of Mendon, the place of my former residence; we preached twice, many came out to hear. On Monday we went to Squire Roberts’, where Elder Fulton, a Baptist priest, came to see us, who treated us very abruptly, denying the spirit of prophecy and the gifts of the gospel; he called us false prophets, and rejecting our testimony he advised us to go home.
“We declared unto him that we should not go home, but should go forth preaching the gospel, and no power should stay us; for the Lord had committed unto us a dispensation, and wo unto us if we preached not the gospel of Christ. I told him if he did not repent of his sins, and be baptized for the remission of them, he would be damned; which made him mad.
“We then passed on until we came to a pure stream of water, and there cleansed our feet bearing testimony against him, as the Lord commanded.
“June 6th met our brethren, the Twelve Apostles, in conference at Lyoustown, Wayne County. It was my turn to preside, as we had been appointed to preside according to our ages, by the Prophet, and the Lord blessed us.
“June 8th I started with Bro. Luke Johnson for Pillow Point, preaching on the way. In the town of Rose we were cordially received, and bore our testimony to the people. May the Lord bless them! In Hewton, about twelve miles west of Oswego, we could find no entertainment, but were rejected from twelve houses; the inmates were all Methodists. May the Lord reward them according to their works. About twelve o’clock at night we put up at an inn, and retired without any supper, as we had only one shilling, just enough to pay our lodging. The next morning we arose and traveled six miles before we could get any breakfast, and came to a magistrate by the name of Elsworth, who gave out an appointment for a meeting on Wednesday, at 6 p.m.; We had a house full. Next day they wanted another meeting, and we preached again, and some believed. When we left there our host and his family bade us God speed, and gave us money; and David Elsworth’s wife washed and mended our clothes. We could not have been treated with more kindness in our father’s house; we blessed them in the name of the Lord, and went on our way rejoicing, while they wept at our departure. About one year after this the whole family embraced the gospel.
“While at Sackett’s Harbor, I received a letter from my wife informing me of the birth of my son Heber Parley, on the occasion of which Brother P. P. Pratt composed a poem.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 13,
1 December 1880, p. 98
I made a statement to the brethren like this: I have three children now, and have not seen one of them. This was a great puzzle to them until I unraveled it—one of them I had not seen.
“At Pillow Point we separated, Brigham Young, Lyman Johnson and Orson Hyde went to Upper Canada, and I with O. Pratt and J. F. Boynton took our course to the state of Vermont and came to the city of Plattsburg, on the banks of Lake Champlain. Here John Boynton took steamer and crossed to the capital of Vermont, and Brother Orson Pratt and myself took a steamboat and landed at St. Albans. * * The same day we passed into Sheldon, the place of my nativity, and where I lived until I was upwards of nine years of age. We stayed that night with one of my youthful playmates. In the morning Brother Pratt left me, and I continued there visiting the people and declaring to them my testimony of the gospel and the Book of Mormon, and on the Sabbath following, I, for the first time, had an appointment to preach, being without a comrade, and there I publicly declared to them my testimony. On Tuesday following I went to Bakersfield, to one of my aunts—my mother’s sister. Remained there for a few days, declaring the truth to them as the Lord gave me utterance. My friends believed my testimony, and acknowledged the truth of it, but did not obey the ordinance.
“I started for St. Johnsbury, took a bypath across the Green Mountains. The first of these I ascended six miles, and then passed through the core of the mountain. The rocks on one side for about a mile were very high and perpendicular; on the other side not quite so high. The two main ranges of the Green Mountains were each ten miles across, without an inhabitant, and nothing but a wilderness country densely covered with timber, I had no company but wild animals and screeching owls. When I arrived at St. Johnsbury I met my brethren in council on the 17th of July, in a barn belonging to a Mr. Snow. In this neighborhood the Snow, Farr, Badger and Bingham families received the gospel. Here we had a good time, and a large concourse of people attended, who were addressed by Elders P. P. Pratt and Wm. E. McLellen; several were baptized. From thence we separated and in different directions. I went alone down the Connecticut River into New Hampshire, to the town of New Lisbon; preached four times and baptized one. The Lord was with me and blessed me with His Spirit and gave me utterance.
“From thence I went down the Connecticut River, passing through Hanover, and came to Plainfield, where I had connections residing, and where my mother was born and brought up. Stayed there a few days and visited my relatives, teaching the gospel from house to house. I found considerable opposition, even among my own kindred. From thence I passed through Claremount, a fine, flourishing town on the Merrimack River. * * * I also passed through the towns of Nashua and Lowel. Having traveled much on foot, my feet were exceedingly sore, and I was under the necessity of taking stage for Bradford, where I met in conference with eight of the Twelve Apostles on the 7th of August. The Lord was merciful with us, and some were added to the Church.
“From thence I went to Boston, in company with Elders T. B. Marsh and B.Young. * * Two or three public meetings were held by us, several were believing and some baptized. Each of us received a snit of clothes from Sisters Fanny Brewer, Polly Voce and other sisters in Boston.
“From thence we returned through Bradford and came to Dover, where we stayed two nights. There was a great excitement in Dover to see the Mormon apostles. Brother Jeremiah Wiley obtained permission to show us through one of the large factories in that town; we were shown through every department, from where the bales of raw cotton were taken in, to the place where the bales of prints were taken out of the factory; and such was the desire to see us, that as we entered each department all the men and women stopped work to gaze at us.
“In company with B. Young, D.W. Patten, and T.B. Marsh, I went to Saco, Maine. Here we met in conference and instructed the brethren as the Lord gave us utterance; some were baptized, and many others were believing. We preached in several towns, and there seemed to be an effectual door open.
“From Saco we proceeded to Farmington, Maine, where we held our last conference for the year 1835. We had a good time, for the Lord was with us, as He had been in all our councils. We had now completed our mission and the object for which we were sent, viz., the laying before the different branches of the Church the subjects mentioned in the Book of Covenants, Sec. 98, par. 10.
“According to this revelation, there were wise men appointed in all these conferences that we held; each conference appointing its own. We also laid before them the importance of this thing, and of building the House of the Lord in Kirtland, and of publishing the word of God to the nations of the earth, and we feel as though our skirts were clear of their blood, for we had done as the Lord commanded. There were but a few instances of the commandment having been observed by those to whom it was given, and the non-compliance of it was a principle cause of the Saints being driven from Jackson County, Missouri, as had been foretold of the Lord by His prophet.
“We then met in council and agreed to return to Kirtland. We appointed the day and hour when we should meet upon the steamboat wharf at Buffalo. Here we were a thousand miles from Kirtland, and pretty much without money. During this mission the Lord had made Himself manifest in healing the sick, casting out devils, &c, and manifested His miraculous power under our administration.
“August 31. This morning we started for home.
“Sept. 3.1 arrived at the house of Brother J. H. Hale, in Dover, and stayed one day. Elder P.P. Pratt preached. I left my brethren at this place, and taking stage arrived same day at Concord, N. H. I understood an abolitionist named Davis was going to deliver a lecture at the courthouse. I went with the other stage passengers to hear his principles. After waiting some time for the gentleman, instead of seeing his person, as we anticipated, we beheld an uproar among the people, and our ears were saluted with the howls of three or four hundred demons in human shape, who were in search of the abolitionist; and not finding him in the statehouse, nor streets, they commenced demolishing a building and searching others. After a little while the peace officers prevailed on them to desist.
“They then prepared an effigy, which they carried through the streets on a rail for some time; then forming an assembly before the statehouse, had an oration delivered on the subject and burned the effigy, while the men of the city dared not to open their mouths, or say aught to them. They went to a place where they had three pieces of cannon, which they continued firing until daylight. This was a night of peculiar feeling; reflecting upon the night when my brethren were driven from their homes in Jackson County, Missouri, by a similar mob; and also considering the time might come when I might fall into the hands of a like band of ruffians. My cry to the Lord was, save the man from the hands of these foul monsters. There was such an uproar in the city next morning that it took five men to hold the horses while the passengers got into the stage. This man was one of the first lecturers on abolitionism in that country, which was then very unpopular.
“Sept. 6, I left Concord, came by stage to Lebanon, and walked to Plainfield, where I tarried two days with my cousin, Charles Spaulding, (at the house where my mother was born and reared) from whom I received a legacy of seven dollars, bequeathed by my aunt, Speedy Spaulding, who had died a short time before; she had left a similar sum to each of my mother’s children. By this means I was enabled to pursue my journey.”
Before returning to Kirtland, my father spent a few days visiting his friends in Mendon, and two sisters, one living in Canandaigua, and another in Byron, state of New York; then took stage for Buffalo, riding all night, where, he says, “I arrived just one hour previous to the time appointed to meet my brethren; I found all of them waiting my arrival. We went on board the Steamer United States, and proceeded as far as Dunkirk, where she struck a rock and sprung a leak; she made her way for Erie, where she arrived with difficulty, but we were under the necessity of running upon a sandbar to save the boat from sinking. There we tarried on the boat 24 hours, when another boat came along and we moved onto it, and in a few hours arrived at Fairport. We hired two wagons, and arrived home on the 27th of September.
“We found our families, friends and brethren all enjoying health and prosperity, and we were cordially received.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 14,
15 December 1880, pp. 111–12
Among the many who take our EXPONENT and perchance have read some of my simple but truthful sketches, there may be those who wonder whether it is my own narrative or my father’s that I am writing as I have copied considerably from the latter. The history of those who first embarked in this cause and have taken part in the great work of the last dispensation seem so closely connected, and our interests have been so interwoven with one another that I feel they cannot be separated. When reading the biographies of Brigham Young, my father and others, it seems as though I was reading my own life, and I am sure that there are many who will enjoy reading the sketches which have been copied from my father’s journal. If I wander a little from those earlier scenes and dwell for a moment upon the topics of today, I hope to be pardoned. “Variety is the spice of life,” and where is there a people who enjoy it more than the “Mormons.” Life would certainly be dull without it. I should have felt somewhat surprised and disappointed, in reading Pres. Hayes late message, had I not seen in it some new scheme gotten up by our enemies to rob and bring us into bondage. It is rather amusing than otherwise, to witness the workings of those hungry land sharks who have been so long maneuvering and watching with their greedy eyes for the chance to swallow up the rich harvest which lays so temptingly before them, for it has always resulted in their own discomfiture. I see no cause for fear if we only keep humble, for,
“Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.”
We ought to consider it very encouraging to have our enemies acknowledge that the political power of the “Mormon sect,” is increasing and extending steadily into other territories and it should stimulate us to greater faithfulness. Their continual threats remind me of a little circumstance which came under my notice. A little bright but mischievous girl who was frequently told by her mother that if she ever did so and so again, she would whip her within an inch of her life, and such like expressions, was one day doing something which vexed her mother, and again she repeated what had never been carried into effect, when the child coolly remarked “Oh that’s what you say all the time.” It is no wonder that “Mormonism” is a puzzle to the unbelieving world, which the more they try to solve the more intricate it becomes. We ought not to feel angry at our persecutors but pity their ignorance, but I would like to ask them, whose fault is it that the Latter-day Saints are here in these territories? Why were we exiles from the homes that we loved? Were they not just as dear to us as to any other class of people in whose veins runs the proud blood of free-born American citizens, whose grandsires fought and bled for the liberty which is denied to their children by those who profess loyalty but have proven themselves traitors not only to their God, but to their country? Did we not suffer enough on that long and dreary journey exposed to the pitiless storms of winter, enduring cold, hunger and weariness and forced much of the time to walk, being short of teams and unprepared for such a journey, and when encamped at night after shoveling and sweeping away the snow our beds were laid upon the frozen ground where many a heart, though laden with sorrow was raised in gratitude to Him who “careth for the sparrows and feedeth the young ravens when they cry,” for their deliverance from their foes, who had plundered and robbed them many times and had murdered their loved ones, and now had driven them across the Mississippi River as exiles from their homes and the graves of their dead, who had fallen victims to diseases brought on by previous mobbings and drivings in Missouri. Where is there a people who would so faithfully endure what the Mormons did on that terrible journey—they even rejoiced and would make the air ring with music, and the glorious songs of Zion composed and sung to suit the different occasions during their pilgrimage.
Our noble and kind-hearted friend, Col. Kane, best describes the scene of our expulsion from Nauvoo. He says, “The Mormons in Nauvoo and its dependencies had been numbered, the year before, at over twenty thousand.” Where were they? “They had last been seen carrying in mournful train their sick and wounded, halt and blind, to disappear behind the western horizon, pursuing the phantom of another home. Hardly anything else was known of them; and people asked with curiosity, what had been their fate—what their fortune.”
Yes, what would have been known of or even cared about the “Mormons” if the Lord had not raised up a few friends like Col. Kane?
When five hundred of our young men were called for by the United States, who had refused to redress our wrongs, to go to fight in the Mexican war, they readily responded to the call.
I ask—Who but a God-loving and a God-fearing people would have patiently submitted to all the wrongs inflicted upon them? And who would have thought of settling in this barren and what seemed a God-forsaken country but this much abused and scandalized people? We never came to this isolated spot to obtain gold and silver and precious ores, but came because we desired peace and to find a place where we could enjoy religious liberty and “worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences.” Where we hoped to remain unmolested by our enemies, who like heartless fiends had driven us out to perish after having murdered our beloved prophet and patriarch, who willingly went like lambs to the slaughter, to save the rest of their people from being, I might say, butchered. Gov. Ford pledged the faith of the state for their protection, but the sequel proved how well he kept his pledge.
I would ask: Is it anything strange that the Latter-day Saints were willing to retire from the world into the deserts or caves of the Rocky Mts., rather than dwell among those who had been filled with bitter hatred from the beginning, and hunted them down like so many bloodhounds in search of their prey? This was before the principle of a plurality of wives had been published to the world and when they declare that the practice of polygamy is the only thing in “Mormonism” that is obnoxious, how absurd it sounds to those who have passed through all the scourgings from the beginning and they are calculated to call up bitter remembrances which we would willingly bury in oblivion if they would let us.
The charge of polygamy against the “Mormons” is only an excuse. Were we not quite so particular on the marriage question or only a little more liberal in our views I think that their pious scruples would not trouble them much, but we are a peculiar people and choose to remain so. If some of us are willing that our husbands should marry more wives and provide for them and their offspring, I cannot see whose business it is but our own. There is no compulsion in the matter as our self-appointed judges would make it appear. Every Latter-day Saint has his or her own free agency, if it affects their sensitive morals too much I would advise them to seek homes in a more congenial clime in some other part of the Earth, where they will not infringe upon the rights of others. A life in the plural or celestial order of matrimony is a much happier one than to live in the uncertainty and jeopardy that thousands of the women of the world are in, and suffer its attendant evils. If I rejected this great and noble principle I would reject all the rest; instead of its being degrading it is calculated to purify and exalt the human family; and if the good and virtuous portion of the gentile world could but understand it in its purity they would accept it, instead of righting against it; because some who have practised it have acted silly and in a way to disgrace themselves, that does not prove that the principle is impure; any more than it proves the whole of Mormonism to be false, because some members are corrupt or have become disaffected, lost the Holy Spirit, and turned away.
For myself and in behalf of my faithful sisters who have honored this principle, I will say that, “We seek no change, and least of all, such changes as they would bring us.” They can call us fanatics if they please, but I think that we have many times proved to them our courage and fortitude, when we so willingly abandoned our homes and all that we had labored so long and so hard to gather around us in these valleys, to become exiles again for our religion. We feared nothing for we knew that we were right, and that we were in the hands of God. We were willing to vacate and apply the torch to our own houses, many of them were newly built and furnished. I had lived in mine but one year, but I was only too glad to leave it and follow the rest wherever they went. We would have burned everything that man or beast could subsist upon rather than allow our houses to be again inhabited by our enemies. Those troops who were sent here were nothing less than a reckless mob, they had been heard to make their brags what they would do with the Mormons. They had everything cut and dried and had even made choice of the mansions intending to kill off the men and divide their wives and daughters as spoil and take possession of all their wealth, thinking to break up the polygamic institution but after being kept back in the cold for a time their ardor had considerably cooled down before reaching Salt Lake City. How well I remember the day that the tidings came of the coming of Johnson’s army. We were enjoying a grand jubilee at Big Cottonwood Lake in honor of the entrance of the pioneers into this valley ten years previous to that day. Bro. Smoot and Judson Stoddard, had come through from the states in twenty days; I can hardly describe the sensation created when they rode into our midst and broke the news. It was not fear, for the Latter-day Saints had met death in too many forms to be frightened at the puny arm of flesh; besides they were not entirely unprepared, for there had been a feeling for a long time among the Saints that there was a crisis of some kind coming; the Lord had said through the Prophet Joseph, that “judgments should begin at the house of the Lord,” and Joseph had also predicted that some day they would see the United States come against them in war, and that the Lord should deliver them and bring glory to his name. At this moment we realized that this prediction was being fulfilled. Was it any wonder that the spirit of heroism should suddenly thrill through the bosom of every man, woman and child, who had inherited it and a feeling of independence from their patriotic sire kindling within every breast a feeling of war. We had done nothing to deserve it and we felt that we would fight for our freedom, before we would again come under unlawful tyranny and oppression brought on us by the slanderous falsehoods, which wicked and corrupt officials had set afloat to hide their own infamy. We had borne enough and were determined never to submit to be driven from our mountain home; and we felt that we were equal to the emergency. We had been taught from our cradles to love and revere the Constitution of the United States, and the honored stars and stripes were then waving above us and our bands playing the patriotic airs which fill with enthusiasm the hearts of every true-hearted American.
President Brigham Young afterwards said to Capt. Van Vliet. “I want you to note the signs of the times; you will see that God will chastise this nation for trying to destroy both the Indians and the Mormons. If the government persists in sending an army to destroy us, in the name of the Lord we will conquer them. If they dare to force the issue, I shall not hold the Indians by the wrist any longer, for white men to shoot at them.” Van Vliet said “If our government pushes this matter to the extent of making war upon you, I will withdraw from the army, for I will not have a hand in shedding the blood of American citizens.” President Young said “we shall trust in God.” We know how that expedition terminated and the humiliation of the nation.
We also know that the grace of our Heavenly Father has sustained us and that He led us to these valleys. It was our destiny and we have not yet fulfilled it. We expect to remain here just as long as He wills it and to build our temples and continue to enlarge our borders, and our foes need not flatter themselves that we will give up one of the principles of our religion. Those who are looking for this will be sadly disappointed for their hopes will never be realized.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 15,
1 January 1881, pp. 114–15
The Twelve Apostles when receiving their charge from President Oliver Cowdery previous to starting on their first mission to the eastern states were warned of the great difficulties which they would meet with in visiting all the nations of the earth, they would need wisdom in a ten-fold proportion to what they had ever had for they would have to combat all the prejudices of all nations; they were to preach this gospel to every nation, and should they in the least degree come short of their duty, great would be their condemnation, for the greater the calling the greater the transgression, he therefore warned them to cultivate great humility, for he knew the pride of the human heart, and to beware lest the flatterers of the world should lift them up, and to beware lest their affections should be captivated by worldly objects and to let their ministry be first, and remember that the souls of men were committed to their charge telling them that if they would mind their calling they should always prosper. With regard to superiority he said, “The ancient apostles sought to be great, but brethren, lest the seeds of discord be sown in this matter understand the voice of the spirit on this occasion. God does not love you better or more than others. You are to contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints. Jacob you know wrestled until he obtained. It was by fervent prayer and diligent search that you have obtained the testimony that you are now able to bear. You are as one. You are equal in bearing the keys of the kingdom to all nations. You are called to preach the gospel of the Son of God to the nations of the earth. It is the will of your Heavenly Father that you proclaim his gospel to the ends of the earth, and the islands of the sea. Be zealous to save souls. The soul of one man is as precious as the soul of another. You are to bear this message to those who consider themselves wise, and such may persecute you, they may seek your life. The adversary has always sought the life of the servants of God. You are therefore to be prepared at all times to make a sacrifice of your lives, should God require it in the advancement and building up of his cause. Murmur not at God. Be always prayerful, be always watchful. You will bear with me while I relieve the feelings of my heart. We shall not see another day like this. * * * You will see the time when you will desire to see such a day as this and you will not see it.
“Every heart wishes you peace and prosperity, but the scenes with you will inevitably change. Let no man take your bishopric, and beware that you lose not your crowns. It will require your whole souls. It will require courage like Enoch’s. The time is near when you will be in the midst of congregations, who will gnash their teeth upon you. This gospel must roll and will roll till it fills the whole earth. Did I say congregations would gnash upon you? Yea I say nations will gnash upon you. You will be considered the worst of men. Be not discouraged at this, when God pours out his Spirit the enemy will rage, but, God, remember is on your right hand and on your left. A man though he may be considered the worst, has joy who is conscious that he pleases God. The lives of those who proclaim the true gospel will be in danger, this has been the case ever since the days of righteous Abel. The same opposition has been manifested wherever men came forward to publish the gospel. The time is coming when you will be the worst by many and by some the best of men. The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. This testimony will make those who do not believe your testimony seek your lives. But there are whole nations who will receive your testimony. They will call you good men. Be not lifted up when you are called good men. Remember you are young men, and you shall be spared, I include the other three. Bear them in mind in your prayers, carry their cares to a throne of grace. Although they are not present, yet you and they are equal. This appointment is calculated to create an affection in you, for each other, stronger than death. Your lives shall be in great jeopardy, but the promise of God is that you shall be delivered. * * * The day is coming when the work of God must be done. Israel shall be gathered. The seed of Jacob shall be gathered from their long dispersion. There will be a feast to Israel the elect of God. It is a sorrowful tale but the gospel must be preached and his (God’s) ministers be rejected, but where can Israel be found and not receive your testimony and not rejoice? Nowhere. The prophecies are full of great things that are to take place in the last days. After the elect is gathered out, destruction shall come on the inhabitations of the earth. All nations shall feel the wrath of God, after they have been warned by the Saints of the Most High. If you will not warn them others will, and you will lose your crowns. You must prepare your minds to bid a long farewell to Kirtland even till the great day come. You will see what you never expected to see. You will need the mind of Enoch or Elijah and the faith of the Brother of Jared. You must be prepared to walk by faith, however appalling the prospect to human view. You, and each of you, should feel the force of the imperious mandate, Son go labor in my vineyard, and cheerfully receive what comes, but in the end you will stand while others will fall. You have read in the revelation concerning ordination. Beware how you ordain, for all are not like this nation. They will willingly receive the ordinances at your hand to put you out of the way. There will be times when nothing but the angels of God can deliver you out of their hand. We appeal to your intelligence. We appeal to your understandings that we have so far discharged our duty to you. We consider it one of the greatest condescensions of our Heavenly Father in pointing you out to us. You will be stewards over the ministry. We have work to do that no other man can do. You must proclaim the gospel in its simplicity and purity, and we commend you and God and the word of his grace. * * *
“We now expect you to be faithful to fulfil in all things and permit me to repeat all nations have a claim on you. You are bound together as the three witnesses were—You notwithstanding can part and meet, and meet to part again till your heads are silvered o’er with gray.”
After the Twelve returned from their mission east they had a council with the First Presidency in the house of the Lord where, my father says, “we laid our grievances before them concerning some things which had transpired during our mission. Viz., that Dr. Warren Cowdery and others having used an undue influence over the First Presidency through Oliver Cowdery and others, they had suspended Orson Hyde and William E. McLellen accusing them, with the Twelve, of not preaching the gathering to Zion, or of gathering means to purchase lands in Zion, when they were at Freedom, which was proved to be a false accusation.
“All things were reconciled to our minds, we had a joyful season and one long to be remembered by us: We continued together a day and night.”
I will here remark that every individual who had used an influence against the Twelve on their mission, have apostatized and gone out of the Church, and this should remain as an everlasting warning to all others. In those days there was a continual itching in certain individuals to destroy the union existing between the Twelve and the First Presidency and the union in the First Presidency, which thing they did at last effect. * * * “Oliver Cowdery, Warren Cowdery, Jared Carter, Frederic G. Williams and six of the Twelve became disaffected, turned against Joseph and those of the Twelve who sustained him, calling them hard names for sustaining Joseph.
“From the time that the reconciliation took place between the First Presidency and the Twelve, a reformation commenced in the Church, most of the elders and male members felt to confess their sins. Those meetings of humiliation, repentance and confessing of sins were truly the beginning of good days to us, and they continued through the endowment.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 16,
15 January 1881, p. 126
There are thousands who can testify to the truth of the words contained in the charge given by Brother O. Cowdery to the Twelve Apostles previous to starting on their first mission, and although he was among the ones who first turned aside, yet we know that he spoke by the spirit and power of the Almighty, for his words have been fulfilled. The Church at that time was but a little handful, as it were, and therefore weak in faith when compared with those who have had a longer experience and can see and better understand the purposes of our Heavenly Father. If we have not improved it is because we have neglected our opportunities. They had to walk by faith but we have a knowledge for we have witnessed the fulfillment of the Prophet Joseph’s words from that day to this, and how can we doubt the rest. When I think of the miraculous power that has been manifested at different times in our deliverance from the cunning devices of our enemies and to witness the faith and hope which the Saints have clung to, enabling them to patiently endure the sneers and scoffs of the world, and all the aggravating trials which have been heaped upon them for over fifty years, I wonder that anybody can be so blind as not to see and realize that none but Saints who are looking to the future Beyond this short probation for their reward, could or would for a moment submit to these wrongs; but we can afford to wait for we know that the Almighty, who has fought our battles will continue to, and overthrow our enemies if we faithfully perform our part.
The following interesting sketches are from my father’s journal.
After giving a description of the house of the Lord in Kirtland he says: “This building was commenced in 1833, in poverty and without means to do it. In 1834 they completed the walls, and in 1835 and 6 they nearly finished it. The cost was between 60 and 70,000 dollars. * * * The house was dedicated to the Lord on the 27th day of March 1836. * * * During the ceremonies of the dedication an angel appeared and sat near President Joseph Smith, Sen., and Frederick G. Williams so that they had a fair view of his person. He was a very tall personage, black eyes, white hair, and stoop shouldered, his garment was white, extending to near his ankles, on his feet he had sandals. He was sent as a messenger to accept of the dedication. * * *
“In the winter of 1834 and 35, all the principal elders in upper Missouri came down to Kirtland according to previous appointment. Some of them spent the summer laboring on the house, while others traveled and preached in the eastern and southern states.”
Among the outside world there has been and still is an impression that the “Mormons” are not particular about having schools or educating their children. This of course is only one out of many other false ideas cherished by them against the Latter-day Saints. The following which I copy from my father’s journal shows that they are ignorant of our faith and principles, for it was a command that the Saints should seek learning &c. “In the fall, and early part of the winter of 1835–6 the priesthood of Israel consisting of elders, priests, teachers and deacons, gathered to Kirtland to the number of four hundred and sixteen who remained there through the winter. Schools were instituted for their use; many studied English grammar, geography, history and other branches. We also employed the celebrated Hebrew teacher Professor Leixas, who gave us much insight into that language in a short time. The First Presidency, the Twelve, bishops, high counselors and elders, attended this school. The elders and Church had been previously commanded to seek learning, study the best books and get a knowledge of countries, kingdoms, languages, &c, which inspired us with an untiring thirst after knowledge. Several months previous to this we had been commanded to prepare ourselves for a solemn assembly. At length the time arrived for this assembly to meet, previous to which President Joseph Smith Jun. exhorted the elders to solemnize their minds, by casting away every evil from them in thought, word, or deed, and to let their hearts become sanctified, because they need not expect a blessing from God without being duly prepared for it, for the Holy Ghost would not dwell in unholy temples. * * * The solemn assembly took place soon after the House of the Lord had been dedicated.” After describing the ceremonies of washing and anointing and conferring blessings upon the president and counselors and the different quorums, father continues. “While these things were being attended to the beloved disciple John was seen in our midst by Brother Joseph Smith Jun., Oliver Cowdery and others. After this all the quorums arose in order together with the three presidencies; and the Twelve then presenting themselves separately and individually before the First Presidency, with hand uplifted towards heaven, asked of God whatever they felt to desire; and after each individual petition, the whole of the quorums answered aloud, ‘Amen and Amen.’ The 6th day of April being the day appointed for fasting and praying, all the elders, priests, teachers and deacons, numbering about four hundred, met together in the house of the Lord to attend to further ordinances none being permitted to enter, but official members who had previously received their washing and anointing.” After the ordinances were attended to, father continues. “They then took their seats, each quorum seating themselves in their respective places and continued in fasting and praying, prophesying and exhortation until evening. A sufficient quantity of bread having been provided to feed this whole assembly; it was broken by the First Presidency, and afterwards the Twelve took it and administered to the congregation until they were all filled.”
The wine was made and provided by Bishop N. K. Whitney for this occasion. It was blessed by the First Presidency and distributed to the congregation by the Twelve; father says, “This order of things is similar to that which was attended to by the Savior amongst his disciples, previous to his ascension. * * The meeting continued on through the night, the spirit of prophecy was poured out upon the assembly, and cloven tongues of fire sat upon them; they were seen by many of the congregation. Also angels administered to many, and also were seen by many. This continued several days, and was attended by a marvelous spirit of prophecy, and for a number of weeks our time was spent in visiting from house to house, administering bread and wine and pronouncing blessings upon each other to that degree, that from the external appearances one would have supposed that the last days had surely come, in which the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon all flesh, as far as the Church was concerned, for the sons and daughters of Zion were full of prophesying. In this prophesying great blessings were pronounced upon the faithful, and also great cursings upon the ungodly, or upon those who had smitten us. During this time great and marvelous visions were seen, one of which I will mention, which Bro. Joseph Smith, Jun., had concerning the Twelve. His anxiety was and had been very great for their welfare, when the following vision was manifested to him, as near as I can recollect. He saw the Twelve going forth, and they appeared to be on a far distant land; after some time they unexpectedly met together, apparently in great tribulation, their clothes all ragged and their knees and feet sore. They formed into a circle, and all stood with their eyes fixed upon the ground. The Savior appeared and stood in their midst and wept over them, and wanted to show Himself to them, but they did not discover Him. He saw until they had accomplished their work and arrived at the gate of the celestial city; there Father Adam stood and opened the gate to them, and as they entered, he embraced them one by one and kissed them. He then led them to the throne of God, and then the Savior embraced each one of them and kissed them, and crowned each one of them in the presence of God; he saw that they had all beautiful heads of hair, and all looked alike.” The impression this vision left on Brother Joseph’s mind was of so acute a nature, that he never could refrain from weeping while rehearsing it.
Those were truly glorious seasons enjoyed by the Latter-day Saints in Kirtland, after passing through so much sorrow and the many privations endured while toiling to build the house of the Lord. They were thankful to see that day, for He was true to his promise. It seemed as though they stood in need of a double portion, because of their sufferings there and also in the state of Missouri, where so many of their brethren had been cut down by the cholera. The Lord in his tender mercy, knowing they had been obedient and patient, blessed them with those miraculous manifestations.
I have read this vision many times, and it always brings the same heavenly influence, lifting as it were the curtain which hides eternity from our view, showing to us the pure love and charity which characterized the life of our blessed Savior, whose example we should all strive to imitate. I feel sure that the Lord will be more merciful towards those who stumbled and fell by the wayside in the early start of the church, than He will be to the ones who have become farther advanced in the knowledge of the truth, and then apostatized. I would admonish my young friends to beware of apostacy, more especially those who have been endowed with the blessings of the holy priesthood, which are the most sacred of all. To me there is nothing that is so terrible as the doom of an apostate. I have no recollection of the dedication, or the solemn assembly which took place in the temple at Kirtland, not being present, but have heard my parents describe it. I remember the love which the Twelve Apostles manifested towards one another, as they frequently met together at my father’s house, not only in council, but some of them met there to study the Hebrew language. President Thomas B. Marsh I can remember, with others, seated around the table studying, and they would frequently practice talking Hebrew, which afforded us children considerable amusement, and often they would burst out laughing at their own awkward mistakes. They were all young men, and as humble as little children. I often heard my parents speak of those days and how their hearts were bound together as one. They were willing to go without purse or scrip to the nations to preach the gospel, the spirit and power of their mission resting down upon them. If they had always cultivated that humility, nothing could have destroyed their union.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 17,
1 February 1881, pp. 130–31
My father’s early life and experience, with his father, is a fair sample of those who pioneered and did the hard work of breaking and settling a new country. The hardships encountered by them can be understood and appreciated by those who were pioneers to this western land, and have made their homes in these Rocky Mountains. The leaders, and many others who were in that little band, were the veritable descendants of the pilgrim fathers and mothers, who laid the foundation for their independence. The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, with Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Bishop N. K. Whitney, and many of the prominent men of the “Mormon” Church, were born in the state of Vermont. My father, in his history, says: “Father Joseph Smith and his brother, John Smith, were acquainted with the Kimballs, the families were connected by marriage. Bishop Whitney and my father were also related; they were never acquainted until after we moved to Kirtland, but by tracing back they found that the mother of N. K. Whitney, whose name was Susannah Kimball, was a relative of my father. Father Whitney thought so much of his mother, that he added the Kimball to several of his children’s names; his own middle name was Kimball, after his mother. Grandmother Whitney was a very intelligent, and what the Yankees term smart woman, and noted for her ready wit, which the following anecdote will illustrate. One Saturday, after the regular training was over, a drunken fellow came riding swiftly by, and suddenly stopping before her door, halloed, ‘Madam, do you know’t (hie) hell’s broke loose?’ ‘Yes, I see you’ve got your liberty,’ was the quick reply.”
My father and mother were of Scotch descent. Their families have prided themselves on the knowledge that they came from a noble stock; but my parents cared very little about worldly nobility and rank. They were proud to be able to say that some of their ancestors were among those who first came to America and helped to gain their independence, and that their descendants were noble, hard-working, self-sacrificing and conscientious people, who believed in rising on their own merits.
The Murrays were a very warm-hearted race, kind and generous to a fault. Many of them were possessed of a poetic temperament, or the gift of expressing thoughts in verse. After the death of my eldest daughter, Vilate, my Uncle Gould Murray’s daughter, Libbie, who I remember when a child, sent me some beautiful lines.
When hearing of my mother’s death, my uncle wrote me a loving letter, and closed it with the assurance that the children of his own “baby sister” were dear to him, and they would always find “his latch string on the outside.” He was the oldest and my mother the youngest of four children, and from her birth he took care of her, and always called her his “baby sister.”
My father was the only one of his family who received the gospel. He had a natural reverence for the Supreme Being, and I have often heard him, when relating his experience, say that when a little child he loved to be alone and reflect upon what his mother had told him about heaven; and sometimes when she was going out to spend an afternoon and wanted him to go with her, he would say, “Let me stay home at alone, ma, so I can take comfernits.”
He was the favorite brother, and had no enemies until after he joined the “Mormons,” which act, one might suppose, would have had the effect of changing his whole nature; I might say that in one sense it did change him, it made him a better man. This step was a terrible blow to their pride, more particularly to his oldest sister, Eliza, who was rich and proud, and although she loved him, she felt so humiliated that she said she never wanted to see his face again. His brother, Solomon, heard the “Mormon” elders pray, and he told my father that they were full of the Holy Ghost religion; father told him he was going to see them, and he told him to “go.” His daughter has since paid us a visit, and she told me that her father was converted to “Mormonism,” and had it not been for the bitter opposition he met with from her mother, he would have been a “Mormon.”
My father, when convinced of the truth of it, went forward and obeyed its requirements, without knowing whether my mother would receive it or not; she never opposed him, but for two or three weeks he mourned over her, and plead night and day with the Lord to give her a testimony of the truth of this work, when his prayer was answered. Had his brother done likewise, obeyed his convictions, instead of his wife, he might possibly have drawn her and his children after him.
The following may prove interesting to many of my father’s friends, particularly to those who were born and reared in the eastern, or New England states. He begins his life by saying: “Concerning my ancestors I can say but little; my Grandfather Kimball and his brother came from England, and both assisted in gaining the independence of the United States. My father, Solomon Farnham Kimball, was born in the state of Massachusetts, in the year 1770; he was raised from his boyhood with Judge Chase, of Massachusetts, remaining there until he was married, when the judge assisted him in establishing himself in the business of blacksmithing in the town of Sheldon, Franklin County, Vermont. He was married to Anna Spaulding, who was born in New Hampshire, in the town of Plainfield, on the banks of the Connecticut River. At the close of the Revolutionary War, my father was thirteen years old, and I can remember his rehearsing to me some of the scenes of the war.
“He was bald-headed, had dark brown hair, blue eyes, sandy whiskers and sandy complexion, five feet eleven inches high, and weighed two hundred pounds and upwards; was captain of a company of militia in Sheldon, and wore a cocked up hat of the old English style, and a strait-bodied coat and short breeches with a knee buckle, long stockings and Suwarrow boots with a pair of tassels.
“He engaged in clearing land, burning the wood into coal and ashes; he had also a forge and a trip hammer in the manufacture of wrought iron. About the time of the embargo, before the last war with England, my father lost his property, as it was invested in salts, potash and pearl ash; the embargo having shut down the gate of commerce between the United States and England, left his property in his hands without much value. He immediately took it into his head to travel to the West and go into the Genessee purchase; he saddled his horse, put on his big portmanteau, which contained a change of raiment, and started for the West. Arriving at the town of Scipio, Cayuga County, New York; he fell in with Judge Towsley, who employed him as a foreman in a blacksmith shop, where he labored six months; after which Judge Towsley and my father traveled still further westward, to within fourteen miles of the Genessee River, to West Bloomfield, Ontario County, where Judge Towsley assisted him in establishing the blacksmithing business.
“In the meantime my father took up several hundred acres of land in this new country, and after remaining six months, he returned to Sheldon to his family, having been absent a year.
“In February, 1811, he took my mother and their six children in a sleigh, with one of horses, and what clothing we had upon us and a change, and a few blankets to wrap us in. We traveled on the ice on Lake Champlain up to Whitehall, a distance of 110 miles, where, spring being open, he traded his sleigh for a wagon, and proceeded to West Bloomfield, where he continued his business of blacksmithing and farming, and commenced building. He built an academy in West Bloomfield, also two tavern stands and several private dwellings. He made nearly all the edge tools, such as scythes, augurs, axes, knives, &c; also ploughshares and agricultural implements for the country around, to a distance of fifty or sixty miles; and sometimes he had eight forges at once, with a foreman and apprentice at each fire. He generally worked with his men and occupied one fire, and took the oversight of his workmen.
“We continued living in West Bloomfield during the late war with England, which place was in the thoroughfare between Albany and Buffalo, on what was called ‘the public turnpike,’ and on which the soldiers passed during the war of 1812–15. It was flourishing times, there being plenty of business and money, and most men in the business became involved, so that when the war closed bankruptcy became common, as every merchant, tavern-keeper and grogshop had a banking establishment, and issued shin plasters from one cent up to five dollars.
“My father lost the greater portion of his property, which broke him up in that place, when he moved two and a half miles east, halfway between East and West Bloomfield, where he bought a farm near a small lake, called Stewart’s Pond; on this pond there was a little improvement.
“Here he established blacksmithing, built a large tavern-stand, barns and other outhouses, and once more set out an orchard of various kinds of fruit trees; this was in the year 1816, which was called the cold season, the same year that the black spot was seen on the sun; the following year we had little to subsist upon. For some three weeks we gathered milkweeds, boiled and ate them, not having salt to put on them. It was with difficulty that bread could be procured. My father paid three dollars per bushel for potatoes.
“My father was a man of good moral character, and though he did not profess any religion, yet he taught his children good morals, and never would suffer them to swear, or play upon the Sabbath day, without correcting them, and would have them remain at home and read good books, or attend the church.
“My mother was a Presbyterian, agreeably to the strictest sense of that religion; she lived a virtuous life, and according to the best of her knowledge taught her children the ways of righteousness.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 18,
15 February 1881, p. 138
My father begins his own life by saying: “I was born June 14, 1801, in the town of Sheldon, Franklin Co., Vermont, about forty miles from Montreal, ten miles from the shores of Lake Cham-plain, and ten miles from St. Albans, the county town, living between the Masisko and Black rivers.
“Judge Chase, with whom my father was brought up, called to see my parents soon after I was born, and he proposed to name me Heber Chase, which they did.
“About the time of the great eclipse in 1806, I commenced going to school, and continued most of the time until about the age of fourteen. I recollect the eclipse well, as my father was about to start on a journey, but obliged to wait on account of the darkness.
“In February, 1811, when my father moved his family from Sheldon to West Bloomfield, a distance of about five hundred miles, I remember when we reached St. Albans my father bought each of his boys a hat, which was the first hat I ever had. We traveled on Lake Champlain on the ice; the wind being very high, my hat was blown off and lost.
“When fourteen years of age my father took me into his shop, and began to teach me the blacksmith trade. When nineteen, he having lost his property, and not taking the care for my welfare which he formerly did, I was left to seek a place of refuge of my own.
“At this time I saw some days of sorrow; my heart was troubled, and I suffered much in consequence of fear, bashfulness and timidity. I found myself cast abroad upon the world, without a friend to console my grief; in those heart-aching hours I suffered much for the want of food and the comforts of life, and many times went two or three days without food to eat, being bashful and not daring to ask for it.
“After I had spent several weeks in the manner before stated, my oldest brother, Charles, hearing of my condition, offered to teach me the potter’s trade. I immediately accepted the offer, and continued with him until I was twenty-one.
“I was enrolled with my brother Charles in an independent horse company of the New York militia, under Captain Sawyer, who lived in East Bloomfield. With him and his successor I trained fourteen years; one year more would have entitled me to exemption from further military duty. I was never brought before a court martial, or found delinquent in my duty.
“While living with my brother he moved into the town of Mendon, Monroe Co., (six miles north of Bloomfield, towards the city of Rochester) where he again established a pottery. After I had finished learning my trade, I worked for six months with my brother for wages.
“Nov. 7, 1822, I married Vilate Murray, the youngest daughter of Roswell and Susannah Murray, born in Florida, Montgomery Co., New York, June 1, 1806. She was their fourth child, and had lived with her parents in Victor, Ontario Co.”
I am here reminded of the following incident, which has in it quite a touch of romance, and though it is not written in my father’s history, is one that I have heard related in the family since childhood.
One warm day in summer, as my father was riding through the little town of Victor, being very thirsty, he stopped before a house where a gentleman was at work in the front yard, and asked him for a drink of cold water; and as he went to the well to draw a fresh bucketfull, he called his daughter Vilate to fetch a glass, which he filled and sent by her to the young stranger, who it seems understood her name to be Milatie. Not long after this he again had occasion to go to Victor, and as he came in sight of this cottage, he suddenly became thirsty, and seeing the same gentleman, he rode up to the gate and asked him for a drink of water. After drawing a fresh bucket, he (my grandfather) was about to hand it himself when he said: “If you please, I’d rather Milatie would bring it to me”; so he called her and sent the water by her. She was the youngest and the pet of the family, who generally called her Latie; of course this circumstance afforded a great deal of fun and amusement for her sister and brothers.
Some of our family have been East and visited the old homesteads in Mendon and Victor, which still look natural. Of course the scenes around there had a peculiar charm for them; they remembered the story of the well, which they visited, and drank from the “old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket, the moss-covered bucket that hung in the well.”
My father continues: “Immediately after I was married I purchased the situation of my brother Charles, and went into business for myself at the potter’s trade, which I carried on in the summer season, and worked at blacksmithing in the winter. I also chopped cord wood and cleared land occasionally. I continued in the pottery business upwards of ten years, and in the meantime I made a purchase of five and a half acres of land, and built a fine house, woodhouse, barn and other outhouses, planted fruit trees, and had situated myself so as to live comfortably.
“February, 1824, my mother died of consumption in the town of West Bloomfield. In the spring of 1825 my father came to Mendon and lived with me; he soon took sick and died of consumption about a year after my mother’s death. My oldest brother, Charles S., and his wife, whose maiden name was Judith Marvin, died in the year 1826 or 7, and were buried in Mendon by the side of my father. The record of my father’s family fell into the hands of my sister Eliza, to whom I have written for an account, but have not yet been able to obtain it.
“In 1823 I received the three first degrees of Masonry, namely, entered apprentice, fellow craft and master Mason in the lodge at Victor Flats, Ontario Co., five miles east of where I was living, Lote Lawson acting as the master of the lodge, Ezra Wilmoth, Jarvies Gillies, Enos Gillies, Samuel Gillies and Nathaniel Campbell (a brother-in-law of mine) were present at my initiation, with perhaps fifty others, whom I could mention if necessary. In 1824 myself and five others sent a petition to the chapter at Canandaigua, the county seat of Ontario County, to receive the degrees up to the Royal Arch Masons; our petition was accepted, but just previous to the time that we were to receive those degrees, the Morgan affair broke out, and the Masonic hall in Canandaigua, where the chapter met, was burned by the anti-Masons, and all the records consumed. There are thousands of Masons that lived in those days who are well aware of the persecution and unjust proceedings which were heaped upon them by the anti-Masons; not as many as three of us could meet together, unless in secret, without being mobbed.
“I have been driven from my houses and possessions, with many of my brethren belonging to that fraternity, five times, by mobs led by some of their leading men. Hyrum Smith received the three first degrees of Masonry in Ontario County, New York. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were master Masons, yet they were massacred through the instrumentality of some of the leading men of that fraternity through the States, and not one soul of them has ever stepped forth to administer help to me or my brethren belonging to the Masonic institution, or to render us assistance, although bound under the strongest obligations to be true and faithful to each other in every case and under every circumstance, the commission of crime excepted.
“I have been as true as an angel from the heavens to the covenants I made in the lodge at Victor. No man was admitted into a lodge in those days except he bore a good moral character and was a man of steady habits; and a member would be suspended for getting drunk, or any other immoral conduct. I wish that all men were Masons and would live up to their profession; then the world would be in a much better state than it is now.”
The great blessings now enjoyed by the Latter-day Saints in these valleys can be better appreciated when we recall some of the earlier scenes, when poverty and sufferings were the common lot of all. The generation of today know little or nothing concerning the history of those who first stood forth in the defense of the truths which were taught by Joseph Smith, the founder of this great and marvelous work which has caused such a commotion, not only in America, but throughout every nation; and this being the fiftieth year, it seems a fitting time to review their history, and let the world know that they were Americans, and were born and reared in the midst of the Green Mountains, and were true representatives of the men and women of ‘76, and that that spirit of independence has not died out, but is still burning in the hearts of their children, and the thousand and one trials which our enemies have caused us to pass through, have only fanned the flame. Long and hard have they fought to hold us under their heel, but all of their struggles have been in vain. It is true we have been whipped, but we have never been conquered; in the midst of what seemed the most dangerous and critical times, our spirits were the most buoyant; we were strangers to fear, and injustice and oppression can never break nor subdue that spirit. This pure mountain air which we have so long enjoyed has increased that love of freedom, which is our rightful inheritance, and Americans are paying themselves rather a poor compliment when traducing the characters of men and women who so nearly resemble their own Puritan fathers and mothers; but in spite of all their efforts truth will prevail.
Surely it was the Spirit of the Almighty that inspired Columbus to seek out the New World, and filled the hearts of the pilgrims with an unquenchable desire for liberty, a boon that was denied them in their fatherland. Nothing could daunt their spirits, but placing their trust in Him, they undertook the perilous voyage across the great deep, in search of a home, where they might enjoy freedom and religious liberty without molestation; and their children were filled with the same valor and love for the glorious cause of liberty, which was their battle cry, and under the sacred banner of freedom they fought in defense of their rights, which they have risked so much to gain. It was the same spirit which animated and inspired the hearts of the Latter-day Saints when they left their homes in the winter to undertake a journey over the trackless wastes to these Rocky Mountains, to obtain freedom from tyranny and oppression, where they could enjoy the rights bequeathed to them by these same fathers and mothers of our common country, and added to this is our glorious religion, the pure gospel of Christ, revealed through Joseph, the Prophet of God, by which, instead of bringing us into bondage, every soul is made free.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 20,
15 March 1881, p. 154
After attending the school in Kirtland during the winter of 1835 and 6, my father, with the Prophet’s blessing, started again to preach the gospel in the eastern states, leaving his family in the enjoyment of health and prosperity. This was the first mission he took alone; he was absent nearly five months, preached much and baptized thirty; visited many of his friends in Vermont and the state of New York. This mission, which he gives an account of, is very interesting but too lengthy to publish in the EXPONENT, however, I will copy a few incidents from it. He says, “June 13th I arrived at Sacketts Harbor, where I had the pleasure of meeting Brothers Luke Johnson and Orson Pratt, who were laboring with all their might for the cause of God in that region. From that place I went on the steamer, ‘United States,’ to Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, New York, and from thence I passed on about three miles from the village, where I was stopped by a shower of rain, which drew me into the house of Mr. Chapin for shelter, and after making known my calling the people desiring a meeting, called in their neighbors, where I preached to them for about an hour; many stayed until midnight, and before I was up the next morning they called upon me, requesting I should preach again that day in the schoolhouse, which I did, and at night I was again thronged with those who were eager to hear. The second morning they likewise called on me and would not let me go until they knew the truth of my testimony, for by this time the country round was in an uproar of excitement. On the fourth morning I was called out of bed and baptized three. I remained seven days preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven and baptized and confirmed seven. The promise was fulfilled for those who believed spoke in tongues and the sick were healed; a woman named Davis had been confined to her bed for five years, not able to do anything during that time, and scarcely able to sit up, who was given up to die by the doctors. I baptized and confirmed her a member of the Church, and at the same time prayed for her and rebuked the disease and commanded it to depart from her, in the name of Jesus Christ; she began to amend from that very hour and in less than one week she was performing her usual household duties, walked into the streets and attended meetings to the astonishment of the people. Sister Chapin and others were also healed of their infirmities. Sister Davis’ husband was considered a staunch univer-salist, he was convinced and baptized.”
From there my father journeyed to Plattsburgh where he stayed all night; from thence went in a steamer to St. Albans, Vermont, and visited friends and relatives in Sheldon and Bakersfield, and traveled through various parts of his native state. He says, “I visited Wrights settlement on the top of the Green Mountain, where some were believing, preached once to eight or nine bore testimony to the truth of the gospel. I met Elder Solon Foster at Pottsdam—after an absence of about five weeks I returned to Ogdensburg, met the brethren whom I had baptized and they rejoiced at my return. When I got to the house of Brother Heman Chapin, he was grinding his scythe and fixing his cradle to commence cutting his wheat. I proposed to him if he would furnish me a tow frock and pantaloons to put on, and a rake, I would go into the field and rake and bind all he could cut, he declared there was no man living could do it; says I ‘never mind Brother Chapin, it’s nearly as easy for me to do it as to say it.’ The next morning after the dew had passed off we went into the field, commencing at a piece of wheat which he said had three acres in it—says I go ahead brother Heman, we’ll cut down this piece before dinner—about the time he took the last clip of the three acres, I had it bound in a bundle before he had hardly a chance to look round, and about that time the horn bio wed to call us to dinner. We started back to his house, he never spoke or said one word to me, appearing rather confounded. The next Sabbath such a congregation of hearers I had never seen in the United States, for priests and people had come for twenty-five miles distance to see and hear that Mormon that had performed a thing that had never before been done in that country, for brother Chapin had proclaimed this occurrence unknown to me. I tarried for several days in those regions preaching and baptizing. August 25th, while we were assembled for a meeting our hearts were filled with joy at the arrival of Joseph Smith Sen., the patriarch and his brother John Smith who were on a mission to bless the churches in the eastern states. * * * * Monday 29th, we ordained Levi Chapin a Priest, and Oliver Simons an elder to watch over the Church; Father Joseph Smith and John Smith left us, the Church having made contributions for them at my request. I then went to Black Lake, preached, and baptized one; then preached at Pottsdam, and baptized another. I returned to the township of Oswegatchie, called the Church together at Ogdensburgh which numbered 25, and bid them farewell. I left the Church rejoicing in the Lord, and many around believing the testimony. From thence I pursued my journey to Victor, Ontario county, where I met Vilate, my wife, who was visiting her friends and connections, and I tarried a few days with them. From thence we pursued our journey to Buffalo.
Here a magistrate came forward and paid five dollars for our passage to Fairport, a distance of 180 miles. The passengers were chiefly Swiss emigrants. After sitting and hearing them some time, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was enabled to preach to them in their own language, they seemed much pleased and treated us kindly. We had a very heavy gale while going up the lake, so that almost every passenger and some of the hands were very sick; many were frightened and one woman died, she being very feeble when she came on board; but we reached our destination without accident, and arrived in Kirtland Oct. 2nd.”
The mention of my mother’s last visit to Victor, recalls many scenes of my childhood and impressions which still occupy a pleasant niche in my memory. My uncle William Murray and their sister Lucretia Campbell were living in Victor, she had but one son and daughter who with herself and husband died many years ago. My parents had buried two of their children in Mendon; their first child was a daughter named Judith Mervin, who died when ten months old, the second was William Henry—I being the third child and last daughter my mother ever bore. Her fourth was Roswell Heber, who died when five months old—this was previous to their hearing of Mormonism—I can distinctly remember the little graveyard between Mendon and Victor, where they were buried, and also of our visiting at my uncle Gould Murray’s in the city of Rochester and of attending Sunday School. My parents were then Baptists; in three weeks after joining that church their ears were saluted with the everlasting gospel.
The following little incident will no doubt remind others of their childish enthusiasm as well as mistakes which underwent timely corrections.
One morning while Uncle Brigham Young and his two daughters were living with us, the oldest one and my brother William proposed that we four should go up to Victor to meet Grandpa and wife, who was sister to Uncle Brigham, as they were that day coming down to Mendon on their way to Kirtland. Little Vilate and myself were sent to ask Ma’s permission who took but little notice what we said only to tell us to “go along” or something which we took for consent, and away we ran through the deep woods so delighted at the prospects before us, and the nice ride back with Grandpa and Aunt Fanny that we did not stop even to pick huckleberries, which were growing thickly on either side of the path, when we came out on the Victor side of the wood, who should we meet but Grandpa and Aunt Fanny who seemed to know we were there without permission, and taking little Vilate, the youngest of us, into their wagon we were ordered to turn round and get home with all speed, which we did not stop to hear repeated, although we were very tired and hungry too, having walked three miles, and it being a very warm day in summer. It was seven miles by the road and they knew that we could run back quicker than they could ride with a loaded wagon.
It was quite late in the day before we got back and our folks were hunting for us. Libbie was the eldest, but my brother had to bear the blame and we were made to realize the extent of our wrongdoing by the strong impressions made upon his feelings by a kind maternal hand. Soon after this our home was sold and when we were ready to start for Kirtland, to my father’s great surprise some of his neighbors issued attachments against his goods, although they knew that he had paid all his debts and there were some hundreds of dollars due to him which he left uncollected, but he settled all their unjust claims and sent his goods up to Kirtland by way of Lake Erie. This prevented us from starting until late in the fall of 1833. While we remained we lived in the house of one of our neighbors; while there I remember of a terrible thunderstorm coming up and our parents telling us we must sit quiet and not talk, for the Lord was speaking. I was hardly five years old but their words with the awful thunder and lightning made so strong an impression upon my mind that I have always felt that we should keep silent when the Lord was speaking.
When my mother went East she was accompanied by Brother Joseph Nobles who was appointed to go on a mission. My eldest brother was left in charge of Grandfather Murray. Sister Nobles having no children wished me to be left with her. This was our first separation and I could never quite believe that it was of only three weeks duration for it seemed like an age to me. Sister Nobles lived but a few steps from my grandfather, but when I returned with her that night I cried myself to sleep though she tried her best to soothe my grief, but I refused to be comforted. The only thing I heard which particularly impressed my mind was when she said “Brother Nobles has gone to stay a much longer time than your Ma and I might cry too but you see I don’t.” The idea of her comparing her loss to mine sounded so absurd to me. I thought, well, neither would I cry for him.
I also remember the morning when her sweet face peeped into the door, I was just kindling the fire and how quickly I dropped the wood and flew into her loving arms. They had returned late the previous evening and she could hardly wait till morning to see me.
The first object that met my eye as we entered the door of our own sweet home was my little brother, who had been very sick and was reduced in flesh previous to taking the trip standing with both hands full of something to eat, my father had not yet risen but our meeting was a joyful one. The wood fire was burning brightly on the andirons and our old fashioned tin oven stood before it filled with sweet apples and Aunt Fanny was preparing breakfast.
Although many years have passed, and the grass has long grown over the graves of those dear ones, yet the scene is still fresh in my memory. The winter after they returned I was baptized by Uncle Brigham in the tributary of the Chagrin river, my father cutting a place in the ice for that purpose, I had longed for this privilege and though I had some distance to walk in my wet clothes I felt no cold or inconvenience from it.
During the spring of 1836, I attended a school kept by Sister E. R. Snow in a house of the Prophet’s adjoining his dwelling-house where she was boarding. I remember that the Book of Mormon was one of our school books.
I never knew Sister Eliza intimately until after our expulsion from Nauvoo and we had quartered for the winter in what is now Florence, Iowa. There I made her acquaintance under peculiar and trying circumstances. The first time I remember of meeting her there she was lying sick with a fever in a poorly covered wagon, with the blazing sun beating down upon it. Many more were in a similar condition and had no other shelter, until after the heavy rains was on us and the nights had become cold and frosty, which made matters still worse, but in the midst of these trials, with trusting faith in the Almighty the Saints were sustained and comforted. His power was made manifest many times to our perfect astonishment. Before starting from Winter Quarters Sister Eliza was able to go around and administer to her sisters in affliction. For many years she had helped to comfort those who stood in need, and in blessing she has been blessed. Many a time have her words dropped like refreshing dews from the heavens, like manna they have come when most needed, reviving and giving new hope to the weary and hungry soul. Our intimacy began the first winter after we came to this valley; we were both invalids and though we lived within half a block’s distance of each other, we were unable to walk it; but we could communicate our thoughts and feelings by letter which we often did, though paper like every other commodity at that time was very scarce; we never left any blank space. Her notes contained many things which were to me as precious treasures, which I have preserved among other choice relics of the past.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 22,
15 April 1881, pp. 169–70
Before proceeding any farther I will say to my friends that nothing could have been farther from my mind, when commencing to write “Life Incidents,” than the thought of going back or copying so much from my father’s journal; but different ones having expressed the pleasure they felt in reading these sketches, prompted me to continue them so far, but it would be useless to expect much of it to be printed in this little paper. The history of his missionary life, in connection with his brethren, is one of deep interest, and I had hoped ere this to have seen it published in book form for the benefit of others besides his family. A number of them, with myself, having heard his mind upon the subject, considered it not only a pleasure, but a duty that we owe to him, to see that his name and his works are kept in honorable remembrance, to be handed down to his numerous posterity, we therefore employed E. W. Tullidge, the author of the “Life of Brigham Young,” etc., believing this to be the wisest course in a pecuniary point of view that we could adopt. After we had expended considerable money to accomplish this purpose, and it was prepared for the press, there arose unlooked-for obstacles, which prevented, or delayed its publication, and most of them have despaired of receiving any recompense, and consider their money thrown away. One hundred dollars was all the ready money I had, and I gave that freely towards it, and it has often been reiterated in my ears that the money had better been spent some other way; but I do not consider it lost, but like bread cast upon the waters, after many days it will return; and if it should not, I gave it for a good purpose, and consider it a very small sum when compared with the debt I owe to my father.
Besides a true record of his travels and public life in the vineyard, it contains much that has never been published, also many pleasing and interesting reminiscences and incidents in connection with his family, which no pains were spared to gather up to make the book interesting and desirable. The style of the author is peculiar to himself, which we often criticised to his face, and were allowed to make some few alterations; but as far as my father’s history is concerned, I feel satisfied that it is held sacred by him, as is the memory of the man whose name he has never ceased to love and revere. I shall sketch but little more from my father’s history before I return to the scenes in Nauvoo.
On my father’s return from his second mission to the eastern states, he found a great change had taken place in Kirtland; the spirit of getting rich was prevailing in the midst of the Saints. He and his brethren were grieved to see that a spirit of apostasy had crept in among them. Some of the apostles were disaffected, and were seeking to overthrow the work which they had previously been engaged in. My father describes the scene; he says:
“We were grieved to see the spirit of speculation that was prevailing in the Church; trade and traffic seemed to engross the time and attention of the Saints. When we left Kirtland a city lot was worth about $150; but on our return, to our astonishment the same lot was said to be worth from $500 to $1,000, according to location; and some men who when I left could hardly get food to eat, I found on my return to be men of supposed great wealth. In fact, everything in the place seemed to be moving in great prosperity, and all seemed determined to become rich; in my feelings they were artificial or imaginary riches. A bank was also established, called the Kirtland Safety Society, in which myself and most of the Twelve were appointed directors. This bank issued paper to a considerable extent. This appearance of prosperity led many of the Saints to believe that the time had arrived for the Lord to enrich them with the treasures of the earth, and believing so, it stimulated them to great exertion; so much so, that two of the Twelve, Lyman E. Johnson and John F. Boynton, went to New York and purchased to the amount of twenty thousand dollars worth of goods, and entered into the mercantile business, borrowing considerable money from Polly Vose and other Saints in Boston and the regions round about, and which they have never repaid.
“This state of things did not continue long, for our enemies, being filled with jealousy and hatred, drew upon the bank till money began to fail; and in proportion as adversity came upon us, the faith of many began to fail, and being filled with the spirit of speculation, they ran greedily into the world, erred from the faith and joined our enemies. Some who were entrusted with the bank robbed it of a considerable amount, which was palmed upon us as a means to overthrow us; also a counterfeit, which was said to have been issued from the bank. Those of integrity in the Church replaced the robbed money at the expense of all they had; I may also add that a greater specimen of integrity was never known among men. Warren Parrish, who was a clerk in the bank, afterwards acknowledged he took twenty thousand dollars, and there was strong evidence he took more. * * *
“This order of things increased to such an extent during the winter, that a man’s life was in danger the moment he spoke in defense of the Prophet of God. During this time I had many hours and days of sorrow and mourning, for my heart sickened to see the awful extent that things were getting to. The only source of consolation I had was in bending my knees continually before my Father in Heaven, and asking Him to sustain me and preserve me from falling into snares, and from betraying my brethren as others had done; for those who apostatized sought every means and opportunity to draw others after them. They also entered into combinations to obtain wealth by fraud and every means that was hellish. At this time I had many dreams from the Lord, which kept me from falling into the snares which I desired to escape; one of them I will relate: I dreamed that I entered into the house of John Boynton, in which there was a panther; he was jet black and very beautiful to look upon, but he inspired me with fear. When I rose to leave the house he stood at the door, with the intention to seize on me, and seeing my fear he displayed his beauty to me, telling me how sleek his coat was, and what beautiful ears he had; and also his claws, which appeared to be of silver; and then he showed me his teeth, which also appeared to be silver. John F. Boynton told me that if I made myself familiar with him he would not hurt me; but if I did not he would. I did not feel disposed to do so, and while the panther was displaying to me his beauty, I slipped through the door and escaped, although he tried to keep me back by laying hold of my coat; but I rent myself from him.
“The interpretation of this dream was literally fulfilled. The panther represented an apostate who I had been very familiar with, and is well known by thousands, though I will not mention his name. I felt to thank the Lord for this dream and other intimations that I had, which, by his assistance, kept me from falling into snares.”
My father, in his journal; speaks of Brother Willard Richards, who had come to Kirtland with his brother Levi. Brother Willard had read the Book of Mormon, and came to inquire further concerning “Mormonism.” My father writes:
“Dec. 31, 1836, I was present when Elder Brigham Young baptized my friend, Willard Richards, in a tributary of the Chagrin River, east of my house, at twelve o’clock, midnight, having assisted my brethren in the afternoon cutting through the ice for that purpose, and assisted at his confirmation. In a few days afterwards I met him in one of the streets; while talking on the spiritual affairs of the world, being full of prophecy I prophesied in the name of the Lord that I should yet go on a mission to the shores of Europe. Brother Richards asked, ‘Shall I go with thee?’ and I said unto him, ‘Yea, in the name of the Lord, thou shalt go with me when I go.’”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 23,
1 May 1881, pp. 177–78
My father says: “I had frequently felt a desire to visit the shores of Europe, and believed that the time would soon come when I should take leave of my own country and lift up my voice to other nations, and warn them of things which were coming on the earth, and make known to them the great things which the Lord had brought to pass; yet it never occurred to my mind that I should be the first commissioned to preach the everlasting gospel on the shores of Europe, and I can assure my friends I was taken by surprise when I was informed by the Prophet Joseph, who came to me June 4th, being the Sabbath day, while I was seated in the front stand above the sacrament table, on the Melchizedek side of the temple in Kirtland, who opened the door and whispered in my ear, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me, saying: Let my servant, Heber, go to England and proclaim my gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’ Feeling my weakness to go on such a mission, I asked the Prophet if Brother Brigham might go with me; he replied he wanted Brother Brigham to STAY WITH HIM, for he had something else for him to do. In a few minutes afterwards Hyrum Smith came; he also opened the door of the pulpit and informed me of my appointment.
“The idea of being appointed to such an important mission was almost more than I could bear up under; I felt my weakness, and was nearly ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me, and I could not help exclaiming: ‘O Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue and altogether unfit for such a work! How can I go to preach in that land which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety—the nursery of religion—and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial?’
“However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His Almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; and although my family were dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.
“I was requested by Joseph to retire to Elder Rigdon’s after meeting, where the First Presidency would meet and set me apart for the mission.
“When the presidency came and were about to lay hands on me, Elder Orson Hyde stepped in, and partaking of the Spirit of God while hearing what was going on, said: ‘Brethren, I acknowledge that I have sinned before my God and you, and I beg of you to forgive me.’ The presidency rejoiced and praised the Lord at this manifestation of repentance of Brother Hyde, who said, if they found him worthy, he desired to accompany me on my mission to England, or go on any other mission. The presidency then laid hands on me and set me apart to preside over that mission, and conferred great blessings upon my head; said that God would make me mighty in that nation in winning souls unto Him; angels should accompany me and bear me up, that my feet should never slip; that I should be mightily blessed and prove a source of salvation to thousands, not only in England, but America. After which, Elder Hyde was set apart, receiving similar blessings; also Prest. Joseph Fielding was blest and set apart for the same mission.
“After being called on this mission, I daily went into the east room in the attic story of the temple, and poured out my soul unto the Lord, asking his protection and power to fulfill honorably the mission appointed me by his servants; that the God of Joseph and all the holy prophets and apostles that were before him would be with me by the administration of his holy angels, and that I might have power so to live that all the blessings that had been conferred upon me in that house might be fulfilled, as I candidly believed that they would.
“At this time many faltered in their faith; even some of the Twelve were in rebellion against the Prophet of God. John F. Boynton said to me, ‘If you are such a d d fool as to go at the call of the fallen Prophet, Joseph Smith, I will not help you a dime; and if you are cast on Van Dieman’s Land, I will not make an effort to help you.’ Lyman E. Johnson said he did not want me to go on my mission, but if I was determined to go he would help me all he could; he took his cloak from off his back and put it upon mine. * * * Brothers Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Sen., Brigham Young, Newel K. Whitney and others said, ‘Go and do as the Prophet has told you, and you shall prosper and be blessed with power to do a glorious work.’ Hyrum, seeing the condition of the Church, when he talked about my mission wept like a child. He was continually blessing and encouraging me, and pouring out his soul in prophecies upon my head; he said, ‘Go, and you shall prosper as not many have prospered.’
“A short time previous to starting I was laid prostrate on my bed from a stitch in my back, which suddenly seized me while chopping and drawing wood for my family, so that I could not stir a limb without calling out from the severeness of the pain. Joseph, hearing of it, came to see me, bringing Oliver Cowdery and Bishop Partridge with him; they prayed for and blessed me, Joseph being mouth, beseeching God to raise me up, &c. He then took me by the right hand and said: ‘Brother Heber, I take you by the right hand in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and by virtue of the holy priesthood vested in me, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to arise, and be thou made whole.’ I arose from my bed, put on my clothes, and started with them, and went up to the temple, and felt no more of the pain afterwards.
“Elder Willard Richards having returned from his mission the day before, I met him on the street and told him: I am now ready to fulfil the prophecy spoken through me last January, as I intend to start for England tomorrow; and I wanted him to go with me. Considering himself involved in business with Brother Brigham, he did not believe he could go; but upon consulting Presidents Hyrum Smith and Sidney Rigdon, and Brother Brigham agreeing to take charge of the business responsibilities, he was set apart at 6 p.m. by Brothers Hyrum and Sidney to accompany the mission to England.”
P. S. In what I said in May 1st concerning my father’s biography not being published, I did not wish to throw any blame upon Mr. Tullidge, and fearing that some may possibly think so, I consider it no more than right that an explanation should be given. He was the worst disappointed, and the only one that I felt sorry for; he was poor, and my father’s family comparatively rich, though some had their property in a shape not to be easily handled or turned into money. My mother’s youngest son, Solomon, was the first to propose having our father’s biography written by Tullidge, as he had just read Brigham Young’s, and he gave liberally towards it, and he has never regretted it. When it was mentioned to Heber he readily donated largely.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 9, no. 24,
15 May 1881, p. 186
There are no doubt many still living who remember the perilous times in Kirtland. I can recollect a time when it was unsafe for a woman or child to be found alone on the street after sundown, and when the graves had to be closely guarded or they were robbed by students who came from Willoughby, and thought it no sacrilege to dissect a “Mormon” dead or alive. To illustrate, I will relate one or two incidents. A young girl named Rhoda Ballard (who was living in the family of Bishop N. K. Whitney, and was afterwards married to his brother Lyman) started near sundown to go to her aunt’s who lived on the opposite side of the river that runs through Kirtland, there was a foot bridge across it; but just as she came to it two young men riding in a buggy stopped and invited her to ride across which she declined, they then urged her and she was about to accept when the horses commenced rearing and being frightened she started to run when one of them who had got out to help her in tried to put a plaster over her mouth, but missing his aim, her screams were heard by a man nearby who came to her rescue; when the fiends saw him they dropped her and drove swiftly across the river towards Willoughby. This is no fiction, as the following will also be remembered by many, more especially by members of Ezekiel Johnson’s family who were then living near neighbors to us under the hill as we came down from Chagrin southeast of Kirtland. Several of them died from consumption and were buried on the hill near their house, they had to be guarded and I was informed that for weeks they were in the habit of tying a strong rope to a bier, which was turned over the grave and the other end to the arm of someone who slept upstairs; for each one who died, this course was pursued; three or four of that family are now living in the southern part of this territory.
One of their sisters that died had been our teacher in Sunday School which she kept at their house. We were in the habit of reciting portions or whole chapters to her from the New Testament and how delighted we felt when she presented us with pretty little primers containing “Babes in the Woods,” “Robin Hood” etc., etc. The mention of this brings to mind so many sweet remembrances of “the long ago” when life and all was new and bright and fair.
“And all was sunshine in each little breast.
‘Twas there we chased the slipper by the sound;
And turned the blindfold hero round and round.
‘Twas here at eve, we form’d our fairy ring,
And fancy fluttered on her wildest wing,
Giants and genii chain’d each wondering ear,
And orphan sorrows drew the ready tear.
Oft with the babe we wander’d in the wood,
Or view’d the forest-feasts of Robin Hood:
Oft fancy led at midnight’s fearful hour,
With startling step we scaled the lonely tower;
O’er infant innocence to hang and weep,
Murder’d by ruffian hands when smiling in its sleep.”
* * * * * *
“Lull’d in the countless chambers of the brain,
Our thoughts are link’d by many a hidden chain.
Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise!
Each stamps its image as the other flies.
Each as the various avenues of sense
Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense,
Brightens or fades yet all with magic art,
Control the latent fibres of the heart.”
Roger’s Pleasures of Memory.
These lines from that beautiful little poem are so expressive and they remind us of our own infant years. Dear are the memories of childhood of the old familiar faces and scenes that we loved so well, but all, all are gone from our sight, and should not this remind us that “life is but a ?” Then let us see that we are walking in the straight and narrow path that when our journey is ended, we will not feel ashamed to meet our Maker.
On the 13th of June at nine a.m., my father and brethren bade adieu to their families and friends in Kirtland and started without purse or scrip to preach the gospel in a foreign land, the first elders to Great Britain. My mother and children with a number of brethren and sisters accompanied them to Fairport. Sister Mary Fielding, who afterwards became the wife of Hyrum Smith, gave my father five dollars with which he paid the passage of himself and Brother Hyde to Buffalo. If I remember rightly she lived with my mother from that time until married to Brother Hyrum.
The following is the preface to a pamphlet published by Robert B. Thompson giving an account of my father’s first mission to Great Britain and the commencement of the work of the Lord in that land.
“It is well known to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as to the community in general; that the labors of the elders have not been confined to this continent, but that the sound of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been heard upon the islands of the sea; and in Great Britain numbers have heard and rejoiced in the same. Some communications have been published by the elders who have visited that land, which were read with deep interest by the Saints, who were informed in the last number of the ‘Elders Journal,’ published in Far West, Missouri; that I intended to publish a pamphlet giving a detail of all the principal transactions of the elders while in England; which publication was ardently desired by the Church, and more particularly by those who had formerly dwelt, and whose friends yet resided there. But on account of the unparalleled persecution which has taken place, and the scattered condition of the Saints, the publication of the same has been delayed. Although the Saints have endured great afflictions, and suffered many things yet their desire for the prosperity of the cause of truth and righteousness, is not abated; and their anxiety to hear of the labors of the servants of the Lord in a distant nation is probably greater than ever. A belief that the perusal of the journal of Elder Kimball would be a source of comfort to the Saints, and a cause of rejoicing to those who have had to drink of the cup of sorrow and affliction, and likewise a source of information and instruction to the Saints generally, has induced me to publish the same to the world. The generality of the Saints are acquainted with Elder Kimball, whose labor of love and humility is known by all who have had the pleasure of his acquaintance: while his uniform conduct and humility since he has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while engaged in different offices, and in circumstances the most trying and painful, render it superfluous for me to attempt to pass any eulogium on his character, and speak louder than volumes in his praise. My acquaintance with him commenced in the spring of 1837. Feeling a deep interest in the mission about to be taken to my native country, I cultivated an acquaintance with all those who were going there; and it was no small gratification to me when I learned that Brother Kimball was to have the superintendence of that mission. The day appointed for the departure of the elders to England having arrived, I stepped into the house of Brother Kimball to ascertain when he would start, as I expected to accompany him two or three hundred miles; intending to spend my labors in Canada that season. The door being partly open, I entered, and felt struck with the sight which presented itself to my view. I would have retired, thinking I was intruding, but I felt riveted to the spot; The father who was appointed to superintend the mission to England, was pouring out his soul to that,
“God who rules on high,
Who all the earth surveys;
That rides upon the stormy sky
And calms the roaring seas.”
that he would grant him a prosperous voyage across the mighty ocean, and make him useful wherever his lot should be cast, and that He who “careth for sparrows” and “feedeth the young ravens when they cry,” would supply the wants of his wife and little ones in his absence. He then, like the patriarchs, and by virtue of his office, laid his hands upon them individually, leaving a father’s blessing upon and commending them to the care and protection of God, while he should be engaged preaching the gospel in a foreign land. While thus engaged, his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around who tried in vain to suppress them. The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly; his emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks, an index to the feelings which reigned in his bosom. My heart was not stout enough to refrain, in spite of myself I wept, and mingled my tears with theirs; at the same time I felt thankful that I had the privilege of contemplating such a scene.
“I realized that nothing could induce that man to tear himself from so affectionate a family group, from his partner and children, who are so dear to him—nothing but a sense of duty and love to God, and attachment to his cause, I prayed that the Lord would bless the labors of his servant, give him a prosperous voyage, make him a blessing in my native land, by bringing many into the kingdom of Christ; that He would be merciful to his family, and when it was wisdom in God that he should return, that he might be brought home in safety, and rejoice with his beloved family in recounting the mercies of the Lord. This the Lord has done in a remarkable manner, and few, if any, have been as successful as Brother Kimball. Yet we do not find him boasting in his own strength; no, he knows it is the Lord’s doings, and that he was only an instrument in his hands, notwithstanding the great success which has attended the labors of this servant of the Lord, the same humility characterizes him, for which he has been so frequently admired. The Elders of Israel would do well to copy his example, and I hope they will receive some instructions from a perusal of this work particularly those who may visit Great Britain. One great cause of his usefulness was, that he attended closely to the commandments of heaven, and preached the gospel in its simplicity and plainness, without meddling with abstruse and dark passages, which are only a source of speculation and tend to strife rather than salvation. It undoubtedly would be pleasing to the elders who returned from distant lands to find their families enjoying the blessing of peace; but this was denied our brother; for after a hard and laborious mission, enduring great fatigue in traveling, and his body reduced by sickness, he in common with the Saints had to be driven from his home and be subject to all the hardships and trials consequent on a removal in the depth of winter from the state of Missouri. Yet none of these things moved him, for no sooner was his family in a place of safety and amongst the Saints, than he prepared for another mission, and with the Twelve Apostles, excepting Lyman Wight, John C. Page and William Smith, takes his journey to the scenes of his former labors.
“The success which has attended the ministry of the elders in England and Scotland, is certainly encouraging and hardly has its parallel in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although it has been principally received by the poor, who have flocked to hear the tidings of salvation, yet there are some men of wealth and influence, who have embraced the gospel with all their hearts, and who rejoice in its precious truths. The information received from the Twelve and elders who are now in that land, is of the most cheering character. A circumstantial account of which will be found in the journal.”
From what has been already accomplished, the Saints can look forward with assurance that the purposes of the Almighty will be accomplished, and that the streams of knowledge shall flow throughout the world, at which every honest heart shall drink and satiate until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the deep.
When at first the work began,
Small and feeble was its day;
Now the word doth sweetly run,
Now it wins its widening way:
More and more it spreads and grows
Ever mighty to prevail,
Sins strong hold it now o’erthrows,
Shakes the trembling gates of hell.
Robert B. Thompson
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 1,
1 June 1881, pp. 6–7
Every promise made to my father concerning himself and family were realized during his absence. He with his brethren arrived in Kirtland May 22nd, 1838, having been absent eleven months and nine days. He says, “I found my family in good health, and as comfortably situated as I could expect; our joy was mutual. The saints likewise welcomed us home, for which I felt thankful to my Heavenly Father.
“But my journey was not yet ended; for soon after my arrival in Kirtland, I commenced making preparations to move my family to the state of Missouri, where brother Joseph and the greater part of the authorities of the Church, and almost all the members who had any faith in Mormonism had already removed. The cause of their removal to the West was the persecutions to which they were subject in Kirtland. Most of the brethren who yet resided there, although very kind and affectionate, were weak in the faith, in consequence of trials and temptations. This caused us to grieve exceedingly and we resolved to cheer them up as much as we possibly could. We preached in the house of the Lord a few times, recounted our travels, and the great success which attended our labors; also the marvelous work which the Lord had commenced in England; they began to take courage, their confidence increased, and faith was strengthened, and they again realized the blessings of Jehovah.
“About the first of July I commenced my journey with my family accompanied by Elder Orson Hyde, Erastus Snow and Winslow Farr, two brothers by the name of Badger, with their families, and the Widow Beeman and her two daughters, Artemissa and Louisa, and Sarah Millekin numbering about forty souls. We took wagons to Wellsville, on the Ohio river, about 130 miles, then took steamboat to St. Louis, also from thence to Richmond on the Missouri River.” Before we arrived at St. Louis, we were nearly all sick from the intense heat of the weather, and having to drink water from the muddy Missouri, they took every opportunity when the boat stopped, to wood up, to go for clear water, which the boat hands had warned them against, telling them it would make us sick. The cabin passengers had ice to use with it but we were not able to indulge in the luxury. The boat would often start before the brethren could get back but when they came running and shouting with their pails of water they would go ashore and take them in and roar with laughter at their ludricous appearance more especially Brother Hyde who was very fleshy.
“The water being very low the boat was constantly running upon sandbars which made the journey very tedious.
“Lyman E. Johnson, Sister Hyde’s brother who had formerly been one of the Twelve Apostles, was living in Richmond and he ordered a dinner at the hotel for all of his old friends, and treated us with every kindness—Brother Hyde and family remained there several days. Wagons were procured there to take us to Far West, where we arrived on the 25th of July.”
The manners and customs of the western people and many things there were quite different from anything I had ever seen or heard of. The first peculiarity that I recollect was when we first landed in the West. Some orange girls came onto the boat and when the price of them was asked and they began talking of bits and picayunes how we stared, it was all “Dutch” to us, and we had to get an interpreter. We stopped one night on the road from Richmond where they had negroes and it was quite a novelty to hear them call the cows “Sook Cherry” etc., and see them tote, as they called it, the pails or tubs of milk on their heads and also water, a thing I had never seen before. Pails with bails was something unknown among them.
The meeting between my father and the Prophet and others of his brethren was a happy one, some of whom were moved to tears when they took each other by the hand. Father was very weak and continued feeble for some time. He writes in his journal.—”Sunday July 29th, I met Joseph, Sidney and Hyrum, on the public square, as they started for Adam-ondi-ahman, Joseph requested me to preach to the Saints and give them a history of my mission, saying it would revive their spirits and do them good, which I did, although I was hardly able to stand. I related many things respecting my mission and travels, which were gladly received by them, whose hearts were cheered by the recital, while many of the elders were stirred up to diligence and expressed a great desire to accompany me when I should return to England.”
Having continued longer than I anticipated I shall now close Life Incidents, but not before expressing the gratitude I feel for the privilege of belonging to the unpopular sect called “Mormons.” I never saw the time that I felt more joyful and more willing to bear< the stigmas which are heaped upon us than I am today. Jesus and his apostles and Saints were also hated, and they suffered a great deal more than the Latter-day Saints, and were finally destroyed from off the earth, but we have no fears of a similar fate, for we know that God has set his hand for the second time and that He will live to fulfill his purposes, and though hundreds may apostatize and join our enemies, they will accomplish nothing but their own ruin; for apostates are looked down upon by the gentiles and despised as traitors always are. The wicked only use them as tools to overthrow the work of the Almighty. It is only those who are weak in the faith that fear and tremble. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth,” and they judge the Latter-day Saints by themselves. The bitterness that is manifested by the world towards this people is the greatest proof to me that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If my homely description of scenes and incidents among the Saints prove beneficial to others I will feel amply rewarded and can say as the poet, “If I one soul improve I have not lived in vain.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 2,
15 June 1881, p. 9