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), 135–239.
Helen Mar Whitney begins her fifth chapter more formally than she did the previous intimate portrait of daily life among the Saints at Nauvoo. “I write in words of soberness and truth,” she says as she prepares to tell the story of Latter-day Saint polygamy. She may realize that as she writes, a whirlwind of prosecution and persecution is beginning to descend upon the Saints in the Rocky Mountains in what would become known as the “Federal Raid” over this very issue.
In this chapter Helen seeks to tell the story of plural marriage from the perspective of Latter-day Saint women, who were neither “dupes [nor] slaves of men.” These brave women, she contends, “had to lean upon the arm of the Almighty, and in the face of persecution, sorrow and death, took up the cross and bore it heroically for the sake of future generations, looking Beyond this life for their reward.” She, along with other Latter-day Saint women, wants to defend the kingdom by publicly writing about “the principle.” Of most interest is her personal experience in Nauvoo when she first hears about the doctrine that challenged even the most committed disciple. She recalls, “The Prophet called at our house, and I sat with my father and mother and heard him teach the principle and explain it more fully.”
This series of articles is not her only effort to defend plural marriage and correct misunderstandings and falsehoods. During this same period she publishes two important tracts on the subject. Apparently connected, the articles and the pamphlets are better understood together, as each one is part of a larger dialogue. Helen also takes the opportunity to tell the story of the rise of the young gentlemen and ladies Relief Society in Nauvoo, organized by her father.
This long chapter, running from 15 October 1881 through 1 January 1883, includes many of her parents’ letters, “which had lain undisturbed” ever since Heber C. Kimball’s death in 1868. These letters brought to her mind many incidents, “some of which are pleasing, and others painful to dwell upon.” One painful memory was the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and the Patriarch Hyrum. Fascinating in its detail, her story reveals the ranges of emotion that filled the air in Hancock County, Illinois, as she publishes for the first time the letters between her mother and father during this critical period of Church history, especially one written by Vilate just days after the assassination.
The following narrative I write in words of soberness and truth, for the benefit of the Saints, particularly the youth in Zion, as well as those who have been so long seeking for the exposition of “Mormonism” or “polygamy,” but have failed, because they sought not the truth, but have preferred to believe the extravagant tales told by those who misrepresent us.
To such as believe “Mormon” women to be the dupes and slaves of men, I will relate the testimonies of my sainted mother and father, which I heard repeatedly from their own lips in days gone by. My mother said she could not doubt that the principle of plurality of wives was of divine origin, for the Lord had shown it to her in answer to prayer.
She was a very conscientious woman, and of such strong faith that she never doubted after once being convinced of the truth, but she had to be convinced before accepting any principle. It was three weeks after my father was baptized into this Church before she saw the necessity of again submitting to that ordinance (they had both been previously baptized into the Baptist Church), and during that period my father mourned for her as one would mourn for the dead.
In Nauvoo the Prophet’s life was in constant jeopardy, not only from outside influences and enemies, who were seeking some plea to take him back to Missouri, but from false brethren, who had crept into his bosom and then betrayed him. Therefore, when he told my father to take a second wife, he requested him to keep it a secret and not divulge it even to my mother, for fear that she would not receive the principle. Father realized the situation fully, and the love and reverence he felt for the Prophet was so great that he would rather have laid down his own life than have betrayed him. This was the greatest test of his faith he had ever experienced.
When first hearing the principle taught, believing that he would be called upon to enter into it, he thought of the two Sisters Pitkin, who, as they were both elderly ladies and great friends of my mother’s, he believed would cause her little if any unhappiness. The woman he was commanded to take, however, was an English lady nearer my mother’s age, who came over with her husband and two little girls with a company of Saints in the same ship in which President Brigham Young and my father were returning from their second mission to Europe. She had been reared in luxury, but had the misfortune to be married to a man who, though of respectable and wealthy parents, and capable of carrying on a large business in the pottery line, was a very dissipated man and ran through his own means and all of hers that he could obtain. She had three wealthy brothers, who took charge of her property, to prevent her husband from squandering it. He loved his wife and children with all the affection of which he was capable, but was so brutal to them when under the influence of liquor, that twice she had been obliged to leave him and seek refuge in the homes of her brothers; but after many professions and promises of reform she was induced to return. This was previous to their hearing of “Mormonism,” so they could not very well lay it to “polygamy.”
Upon hearing the gospel she received it, as also her husband, but he was not sincere. Her brothers considered this step unpardonable, and thought they were more disgraced by her joining the awful people called “Mormons” than in living with a drunken and dissolute husband.
This first time I ever saw him was a few days after their arrival in Nauvoo; he was then half intoxicated. She was proud and very sensitive, and being among strangers in a strange land, it placed her under very peculiar and trying circumstances. My father and mother and the neighbors were very kind to her. They rented a log house of a Mr. Hibbard, an old settler in Commerce. While living in their house
Mr. came home so drunk that his abusive treatment of his wife and children outraged the feelings of Mr. Hibbard and family, and they interfered and drove him from the house. His wife could no longer live with him, and soon after he returned to England.
This, no doubt, was the cause of father’s being told by the Prophet to take her and the children, to provide them with a home; but the thought of deceiving the kind and faithful wife of his youth, whom he loved with all his heart, and who with him had borne so patiently their separation and all the trials and sacrifices they had been called to endure, was more than he felt able to bear. He realized not only the addition of trouble and perplexities that such a step must bring upon him, but his sorrow and misery were increased by the thought of my mother hearing of it from some other source, which would no doubt separate them forever, and he shrank from the thought of such a thing, or of causing her any unhappiness. Finally he was so tried that he went to Joseph and told him how he felt—that he was fearful if he took such a step he could not stand, but would be overcome. The Prophet went and inquired of the Lord; His answer was: “Tell him to go and do as he has been commanded, and if I see that there is any danger of his apostatizing, I will take him to myself.”
Father was heard many a time to say that he had shed bushels of tears over this order, the order of “celestial or plural marriage.”
The Prophet told him the third time before he obeyed the command. This shows that the trial must have been extraordinary, for he was a man who from the first had yielded implicit obedience to every requirement of the Prophet.
My mother had noticed a change in his looks and appearance, and when she enquired the cause he tried to evade her question, saying it was only her imagination, or that he was not feeling well, etc. But it so worked upon his mind that his anxious and haggard looks betrayed him daily and hourly, and finally his misery became so unbearable that it was impossible to control his feelings. He became sick in body, but his mental wretchedness was too great to allow of his retiring at night, and instead of going to bed he would walk the floor; and the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep, beseeching the Lord with his whole soul to be merciful and reveal to his wife the cause of his great sorrow, for he himself could not break his vow of secrecy. His anguish, and my mother’s, were indescribable, and when unable to endure it longer, she retired to her room, where, with a broken and contrite heart she poured out her grief to Him who hath said: “If any lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”
My father’s heart was raised at the same time in supplication, and while pleading as one would plead for life, the vision of her mind was opened, and as darkness fleeth before the morning sun, so did her sorrow and the groveling things of earth vanish away, and before her she saw the principle of celestial marriage illustrated in all its beauty and glory, together with the great exaltation and honor it would confer upon her in that immortal and celestial sphere if she would but accept it and stand in her place by her husband’s side. She was also shown the woman he had taken to wife, and contemplated with joy the vast and boundless love and union which this order would bring about, as well as the increase of kingdoms, power and glory extending throughout the eternities, worlds without end.
Her soul was satisfied and filled with the Spirit of God. With a countenance beaming with joy she returned to my father, saying, “Heber, what you kept from me the Lord has shown to me.”
She related the scene to me and to many others, and told me she never saw so happy a man as father was, when she described the vision and told him she was satisfied and knew that it was from God. She covenanted to stand by him and honor the principle, which covenant she faithfully kept, and though her trials were often heavy and grievous to bear, her integrity was unflinching to the end.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 10,
15 October 1881, p. 74
Those who have grown up in these valleys, and have here practiced the principle of celestial marriage, have become accustomed to it, and having but little opposition to contend with, can have very little idea of the trial it was to those who first entered the school. They had to lean upon the arm of the Almighty, and in the face of persecution, sorrow and death, took up the cross and bore it heroically for the sake of future generations, looking Beyond this life for their reward. They understood it to be a principle instituted solely for the purpose of saving and exalting the human family, not only the living, but those who had died without a knowledge of the true plan of salvation. It was considered a sacred and holy duty, and the honest in heart who entered into it did it in the fear of God.
What other motive than real faith and a firm conviction of the truth of this principle could have induced them to accept and practice a doctrine so opposite to their traditions and the rigid training received from their sectarian parents and ancestors? Who would wish to become objects of derision, to have their friends and associates turn the cold shoulder, and be subjected to the sneers and scoffs of persons prejudiced by the extravagant tales spread by certain ones who, while professing friendship and faith in the principle, were two-faced and treacherous to their brethren and sisters; the latter, though virtuous and modest in their demeanor, and their motives as noble and pure as were those of Ruth and Naomi, had to silently bear the title of lewd women.
We may read the history of martyrs and mighty conquerors, and of many great and good men and women, but that of the noble women and fair daughters of Zion, whose faith in the promises of Israel’s God enabled them to triumph over self and obey His higher law, and assist His servants to establish it upon the earth, though buried in the past, I feel sure there was kept by the angels an account of their works which will yet be found in the records of eternity, written in letters of gold.
The Prophet said that the practice of this principle would be the hardest trial the Saints would ever have to test their faith. It was not his work, but that of the Almighty, and he said it would cause the damnation of all who entered into it with impure motives, and none who acted unrighteously could stand, the trial would be so great; and there would be but few men who would be capable of being saviors upon Mount Zion.
He taught the principle to his wife, Emma, who humbly received it and gave to him three young women to wife, who had been living with her in her family, and had been like adopted daughters. Until she lost the spirit and her heart became hardened, they lived happily together. They respected and loved her as though she had been their mother, and might have remained with her afterwards had they been willing to have severed the ties between themselves and the Prophet; but choosing to remain true to their covenants, which they considered binding here and hereafter, they preferred to leave the Mansion.
Emma deceived her children and denied to everyone that the Prophet had ever received a revelation on celestial marriage, or had ever practiced it, although she had heard the revelation and was an eye witness to the marriage of the three wives above mentioned. Besides, he told her of every one that had been sealed to him.
Some of those who apostatized from the Church, and knew more than she did about the practice of polygamy, also denied it; but there are too many of the Prophet’s wives still living in Utah—as well as hundreds of other witnesses—who can testify to the hypocrisy of those men who, like William Marks, apostatized because they could not manage matters pertaining to the Church as they desired, and who afterwards volunteered their services to help Emma Smith, she having, according to her own acknowledgment, founded the Josephite church to revenge herself upon Brigham Young.
How little the world who hate and persecute the Latter-day Saints know of the impelling motive which induced them to accept and carry out the principles taught by Joseph Smith, the great Prophet of the latter days.
It seems a little strange, too, so greatly despised and hated as “Mormonism” is, that many of its principles, revealed through the illiterate boy, Joseph Smith, and taught for fifty years or more by the Church (doctrines for which our people have been persecuted and driven, and many besides the Prophet and Patriarch slain for advocating) are now being proclaimed by sectarian ministers, who are applauded for thus advancing some new idea, never before thought of. Such blindness is certainly deplorable.
My father was often called a prophet, and years ago in Nauvoo I heard him predict that it would yet become a law of this nation that men should marry a plurality of wives.
The Prophet Joseph was heard to say that in consequence of wars and disasters, men would become so scarce that when one was seen it would be said of him, “There goes a man.”
The following we read in Isaiah: “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn: and she being desolate, shall sit upon the ground. And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man saying: We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”
If “coming events cast their shadows before,” we certainly have no cause to doubt the speedy fulfillment of this prediction. The first great commandment given by the Creator has nearly become obsolete among professed Christians, who set themselves up as our judges, and assume to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, but instead, have departed from His precepts, choosing only such portions of the scriptures as happen to suit their own ideas, and ignoring the rest; while the Latter-day Saints, whom they call heretics, accept it entirely, and believe it to be their duty to obey every requirement of the gospel held forth by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Instead of spiritualizing it, we believe it means exactly what it says in both the Old and the New Testaments. As other sects have already followed in the footsteps of the “Mormons” in certain of their doctrines, we need not be surprised to eventually hear of their advocating and legalizing polygamy.
Great exertions have been made by them to enlighten the minds of the awfully ignorant and depraved “Mormons,” who have rightly appreciated the same and also realize how much more interest they have taken in our behalf since they found that instead of perishing, as they had hoped we would, we were still living and increasing in wealth, power and influence, away off here in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains. They send their Bible agents for the purpose, as we suppose, of convincing us of our errors by the scriptures, for which we are thankful, as we are more than anxious that the rising generation in Zion should understand the scriptures, as our doctrine is founded upon that sacred record.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 11,
1 November 1881, p. 83
Although the Lord had revealed the principle of celestial marriage to Joseph Smith in an early day, the astounding revelation and command to proclaim it was not given until after the Saints had settled in Nauvoo. Joseph put off the dreaded day as long as he dared. I recollect on a certain Sabbath, previous to the apostles’ return from Europe, of hearing my mother and others expressing their wonder and astonishment at what they had heard uttered that day by the Prophet, upon the restoration of all things, etc. His wife as well as others was quite excited over it. Seeing the effect that his sermon had upon his hearers in the afternoon, he consoled them by saying that the time which he had spoken of might be further off than he had viewed it; at all events the Lord would help them and carry them safely through it, if they were faithful.
No wonder that this duty weighed so heavily upon his mind, nor that he should manifest such anxiety to again behold his brethren, the apostles, to deliver into their hands the keys of the kingdom. The great joy and affection which he manifested at once more meeting and clasping them by the hand proved the confidence which he felt in them as men of God. Those were days of peril, and the tried and faithful few were I believe, among the master spirits appointed, or reserved, by the Almighty to come forth in the day in which He began to restore the ancient order of His kingdom, to prepare for the winding up scene.
The humiliation of the Saints only increased their union. Abuse never injured a cause, and persecution has never stopped the progress of this work, but only added fuel to the flame and attracted the attention of the world, and caused thousands to join the standard of truth. As to our religious principles, we have nothing to disguise, but on the contrary wish them to be known, that they may be judged of correctly.
The Latter-day Saints have always been accused by the world of denying the Old Bible and substituting a new one, which they were pleased to call “Joe Smith’s Golden Bible.” I will here mention one circumstance: a cousin who lately paid me a visit from the states, seemed very much surprised at seeing upon my table the old family Bible, which happened to be her “Uncle Heber’s.” I merely speak of this to show how little the gentile world knows about us, or can understand the faith and doctrines of the people whom they are so ready to judge.
Notwithstanding the life of the Prophet was sought and his enemies were ready to cut him off, yet he always had some warmhearted friends who plead his cause. The following extract from a letter written by James Arlington Bennett to the N. Y. Herald, dated Arlington House N. Y., Oct. 16,1842, concerning the Mormons, I am sure will be read with interest by the Saints. His words were prophetic:
“Why should I not be Joseph Smith’s friend? He has done nothing to injure me, nor do I believe he has done anything to injure ex-Governor Boggs, of Missouri. The governor, no doubt, under strong feelings may have thought and believed that Smith had preconcerted the plan for his assassination, but there is no legal evidence whatever of that fact, none by which an unprejudiced jury would convict any man; yet to send this man into Missouri, under the present requisition, would be an act of great injustice, as his ruin would be certain. How could any man, against whom there is a bitter religious prejudice, escape ruin, being in the circumstances of Joseph Smith? * * * Look at the history of past ages—see the force of fanaticism and bigotry in bringing to the stake some of the best of men; and in all these cases the persecutors had their pretexts, as well as in the case of the Mormon chief. * * * Smith, I conceive, has just as good a right to establish a church, if he can do it, as Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Fox, or even King Henry the Eighth. All these chiefs in religion had their opponents, and their people their persecutors. * * Just so it will be with the Mormons. They may kill one prophet, and confine in chains half of his followers, but another will take his place, and the Mormons will still go ahead.
“One of their elders said to me, when conversing on this subject, that they were like a mustard plant—’if you don’t disturb it the seed will fall and multiply; and if you kick it about, you only give the seed more soil, and it will multiply the more.’
“From what I know of the people, I fully believe that all the really sincere Mormons would die sooner than abandon their faith and religion.
“Gen. J. C. Bennett has stated that, to conquer the Mormon Legion it would require five to one against them, all things taken into consideration, and that they will die to a man sooner than give up their Prophet. Now, is the arrest of this man worth such a sacrifice of life as must necessarily follow an open war with his people? The loss of from one to three thousand lives will no doubt follow in the attempt to accomplish an object not in the end worth a button.
“Persecute them, and you are sure to multiply them. This is fully proved since the Missouri persecution, as, since that affair they have increased one hundred fold. It is the best policy, both of Missouri and Illinois, to let them alone; for if they are driven farther west, they may set up an independent government, under which they can worship the Almighty as may suit their taste. Indeed, I would recommend to the Prophet to pull up stakes and take possession of the Oregon Territory in his own right, and establish an independent empire. In one hundred years from this time no nation on earth could conquer such a people. Let not the history of David be forgotten.
“If the Prophet Joseph would do this, millions would flock to his standard and join his cause. He could then make his own laws by the voice of revelation, and have them executed like the act of one man.
“With respect to myself, I would just repeat that I am the Prophet’s friend, and a friend of his people, merely from sympathy, as my arm has ever been lifted on the side of the persecuted and oppressed. * * By inserting this communication, it is presumed that no one will hold the Herald responsible for the sentiments it contains; yet I have no doubt that there are thousands of independent, liberal-minded men in this country who think as I do.
“Neither the Mormon Prophet nor his people can add anything to my fortune or reputation. I expect nothing from them; they are a poor and industrious people, and have nothing to give. I am influenced in my conduct towards them by a spirit of benevolence and mercy, and hope the governor and state of Illinois will act in like manner. It is true, I was commissioned in their legion, through the instrumentality of their enemy, Gen. J. C. Bennett—an act entirely of their own, without my agency; but I was as much their friend before as since. The Missouri persecution fixed my attention and commiseration on the people.
“It must be recollected, too, that the Mormon Prophet and his people are the most ardent friends and promoters of literature and science. These are elementary principles in their social system; and this, certainly, is contrary to everything like despotism. I hope, therefore, * * that ex-Governor Boggs will withdraw his demand for the Prophet, and let these poor people rest in peace. Both he and Governor Carlin will feel much more at peace with themselves by quashing the whole proceeding.”
The following historical incident of the Prophet’s life, which I distinctly remember, cannot fall to be of interest to many, particularly the ones who witnessed the scene:
“Saturday, April 7,1842, the Nauvoo Legion was on parade, by virtue of an order of the 25th of January, 1842, and was reviewed by Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith, who commanded through the day.
* * The weather was very fine. * * * In the afternoon the legion was divided into cohorts, and fought an animated sham battle. At the close of the parade Gen. Smith delivered a most animating and appropriate address, in which he remarked that his soul was never better satisfied than on this occasion. It will be remembered that on that day Gen. John C. Bennett betrayed his designs upon the life of the Prophet, by requesting him repeatedly to take part in the sham battle, and even urging him to command the first cohort in person, without his staff.
Dr. Bennett’s treachery, it seems, was made known to Joseph by the Spirit, for he said: “If General Bennett’s true feelings towards me are not made manifest to the world in a very short time, then it may be possible that the gentle breathings of that spirit, which whispered me on parade that there was mischief concealed in that sham battle, were false. A short time will determine the point. Let John C. Bennett answer at the day of judgment—Why did you request me to command one of the cohorts, and also to take my position without my staff, during the sham battle on the 7th of April, 1842, where my life might have been the forfeit, and no man have known who did the deed?”
Shortly after this circumstance, the true feelings of John C. Bennett were made manifest to the world, as the Prophet had predicted. According to Joseph’s own words, his time had not yet come; for said he, “I understand my mission. * * God Almighty is my shield; * * I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes; then I shall be offered freely.”
Dr. John C. Bennett was expelled from the Church in the following July for unvirtuous conduct. It was well known that he was a notorious hypocrite, and by his artful cunning, under the cloak of religion, deceived and led captive artless and unwary women. * * It should be explained to the reader that James Arlington Bennett and Dr. John C. Bennett were not in the least related, except they bore the same name.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 12,
15 November 1881, pp. 93–94
A thousand and one opinions are being daily expressed concerning the polygamous “Mormons” and their destiny, but the more they try to solve the problem the harder and more intricate it becomes, which is the natural consequence of ignorance.
The results which they predict would be inevitable were it the work or scheme of men, but as it is the work of the great God, who will not behold iniquity with any degree of allowance, and having promised that the kingdom shall not be given to any other people; if we sin He will punish, and if we go astray He will chasten us. Every principle which the Lord reveals for the exaltation of mankind may be perverted, which leads to degradation, and even to everlasting damnation. There always has been and always will be those who pervert the ways of the Lord. The tares must grow with the wheat until the harvest.
“Mormonism,” so-called, would have died a natural death years ago if it had been the “fraud” which the world represents it.
The schemes and threats of men have but little weight with those who have been made familiar with them from their earliest remembrance, and have become accustomed to the sound, as we do to the idle winds or the barking of a few curs. The conflict is between them and our God, who has never forsaken His people; but He does not expect us to sit quietly down and fold our hands in idleness, while our enemies are publishing their outrageous falsehoods to blind the eyes of the weak or credulous to the most glorious truths of heaven, and to throw ignominy and dishonor upon our people, more especially the women and innocent children, who are as much farther advanced in the ways of God and the order of heaven, as our slanderers are in the road to perdition, but to use every honorable means to defend ourselves against their vile attacks.
The following truthful description of the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Hyrum, I think very appropriate at the present time, and it is quite a treat to read the sentiments of unbiased and liberal-minded men, who could afford to give due credit even to “Mormons.” It was written to James Gordon Bennett by a correspondent of the New York Herald, who was stopping in the city of the Saints, which he designated as the nucleus of a Western Empire:
“Joseph Smith, the president of the Church, prophet, seer and revelator, is thirty-six years of age, six feet high in pumps, weighing two hundred and twelve pounds. He is a man of the highest order of talent and great independence of character—firm in integrity, and devoted to his religion; in fact, he is a perse, as President Tyler would say. As a public speaker he is bold, powerful and convincing, possessing both the suaviter in modo and the fortiler in re; as a leader, wise and prudent, yet fearless as a military commander; brave and determined as a citizen, worthy, affable and kind; bland in his manners, and of noble bearing. His amiable lady, too, the electa cyria, is a woman of superior intellect and exemplary piety—in every respect suited to her situation in society, as the wife of one of the most accomplished and powerful chiefs of the age.
“Hyrum Smith, the patriarch of the Church and brother of Joseph, is forty-two years of age, five feet, eleven and a half inches high, weighing one hundred and ninety-three pounds. He, too, is a prophet, seer and revelator, and is one of the most pious and devout Christians in the world. He is a man of great wisdom and superior excellence, possessing great energy of character and originality of thought.”
The following interesting extracts are taken from a letter addressed to the editor of the New York Herald by an officer of the U.S. artillery, dated City of Nauvoo, 111., May 8, 1842:
“Yesterday was a great day with the ‘Mormons.’ Their legion, to the number of two thousand men, was paraded by Gen. Smith, Bennett and others, and certainly made a very noble and imposing appearance. The evolutions of the troops would do honor to anybody of armed militia in any of the states, and approximates very closely to the regular forces. * * * Before many years this legion will be twenty, and perhaps fifty thousand strong, and still augmenting. A fearful host, filled with religious enthusiasm, and led on by ambitious and talented officers, what may not be effected by them? Perhaps the subversion of the Constitution of the United States; and if this should be considered too great a task, foreign conquests will most certainly follow. Mexico will fall into their hands, even if Texas should first take it.
“These ‘Mormons’ are accumulating like a snowball rolling down an inclined plane, which in the end becomes an avalanche. They are enrolling among their officers some of the first talent in the country. * * Only a part of their officers, regents and professors, however, are ‘Mormons,’ but they are all united by a common interest and will act together on main points to a man. Those who are not ‘Mormons’ when they come here, very soon become so. * * *
“The Smiths are not without talent, and are said to be as brave as lions. Joseph, the chief, is a noble-looking fellow, a Mahomet every inch of him. The postmaster, Sidney Rigdon, is a lawyer, philosopher and saint. Their other generals are also men of talent, and some of then men of learning. I have no doubt that they are all brave, as they are most unquestionably ambitious, and the tendency of their religious creed is to annihilate all other sects; you may therefore see that the time will come when this gathering host of religious fanatics will make this country shake to the centre. A western empire is certain. Ecclesiastical history presents no parallel to this people, inasmuch as they are establishing their religion on a learned footing. All the sciences are taught, and to be taught in the college with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, etc., etc. The mathematical sciences, pure and mixed, are now in successful operation, under an extremely able professor of the name of Pratt (Prof. Orson Pratt); and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, is president of their university.
“Now, sir, what do you think of Joseph, the modern Mahomet? * * Who will say that the ‘Mormon’ Prophet is not among the great spirits of the age?”
The following, dated June 17, 1842, is also from the N. Y. Herald, and is headed: “Wonderful Progress of Joe Smith, the Modern Mahomet.—Spread of the Mormon Faith, and a New Religious Revolution at Hand.”
“By the mails last evening we received a variety of letters and papers from Nauvoo, the capital of the new religious revolutionary empire, established by Joe Smith; and also from other towns of Illinois, exhibiting the extraordinary progress of this most extraordinary people, who call themselves the ‘Latter-day Saints.’ These letters and papers are as follows: First, a letter from a United States artillery officer traveling through Nauvoo, who gives an original glimpse of the Mormon movement there. Second, an extract from the Sangamo Journal of the 3d of June—a newspaper in favor of the Whig party, and opposed to the Mormons on account of their locofoco tendency, requiring a review of their military organization. Third, a law of the Mormon city of Nauvoo, extending toleration towards all religions; even Mahometan, and assuming power to legislate for all with imperial nonchalance. Fourth, a public meeting of Mormons in Nauvoo, developing their sentiments and position in the elections in Illinois. Fifth, a letter to Mrs. Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet, from a lady in Edwardsville, exhibiting the singular mixture of piety, politics, tact and shrewdness of those who believe in Mormonism. All these letters and documents disclose a most extraordinary movement in human affairs. What they mean we can hardly tell, but is it not time for some great religious revolution, as radical as Luther’s, to take place in the Christian world?
“In the early ages of antiquity, before the dates of the monuments of Egypt, we have distinguished names handed down to us by tradition—Brama, Vishnu, Confucius, Zoroaster, Isis, Osiris, including Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, were the master spirits of great antiquity throughout the ancient world. In later times, Moses and the prophets, Peter and Paul and the apostles of Christ, and even Mahomet, who acknowledged the truth of Christianity. Each of these movements was a religious revolution, but that which followed the time of Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ and the apostles, has developed the only true system of morals, of belief, of revelation, of prophecy, of man, of God, of eternity. When the Christian Church was overwhelmed with follies and superstitions of Rome, and the thousand quarreling sects of monks and idlers, a fresh spirit arose in the world—a spark came down from heaven—Luther lifted up his voice, and a religious revolution started at his word, and renovated Christianity. But a new age has come, a fresh infusion of faith is required, a strong impulse is rendered necessary.
“May not this wonderful Mormon movement be the signal for a new religious revolution? Is not Joe Smith its master spirit, and General Bennett its military spirit? The vast progress of the last century in art and science, through steam and type, has changed the nature of man and society. Is it not necessary that a new religion and a new faith should come down from heaven, to carry out the destiny of the race under its present condition?
“It is very evident that the Mormons exhibit a remarkable degree of tact, skill, shrewdness, energy and enthusiasm. The particular features of their faith are nothing against their success. Do they believe their new bible, their virgin revelation, their singular creed? If they do so with enthusiasm and practice their shrewd precepts, the other sects will fall before them. This is certain—this is human nature. In Illinois they have already shown how to acquire power and influence, by holding the balance of power between both the great parties. They can already dictate to the state of Illinois, and if they pursue the same policy in other states, will they not soon dictate to Congress and decide the presidency? In all matters of public concernment they act as one man, with one soul, one mind and one purpose.
“Their religious and moral principles bind them together firmly. They may be, and have been abused and calumniated—partly true, partly false—but whether true or false, these attacks only increase their popularity and influence. Unlike all other Christian sects, they adopt at once all the modern improvements of society, in art and literature; and from their singular religious faith give the highest enthusiasm to the movement at large. There is nothing odd, or singular, or absurd about them.
“Verily, verily, we are truly living in the ‘latter days,’ and we should not be surprised to see that the Mormon religion is the real Millennium already commenced. One thing is certain—the Mormons are so constituted that in these temperance times they will swallow up all the other lukewarm Protestant sects, and the moral and religious world will be divided between the pope and the Catholics on one side and Joe Smith and the Mormons on the other. The oyster is opening and soon will be equally divided.”
The writers of the above, though rather extravagant in some of their ideas, spoke more truths than we have been accustomed to hear for a long time, and many more than the opponents of “Mormonism” would be willing to admit, though they oftentimes do so unwittingly.
We are entirely too clannish to suit the agents of his Satanic majesty, who knows as well as we that “union is strength” and power, and that his craft is in danger; he therefore abhors it. But as the religion of Jesus Christ, “whose ways are pleasantness, whose paths are peace, whose end is perfect joy,” teaches us to become one, and as we choose to obey the Almighty, who, I would ask, among His groveling subjects, should claim the right of saying, “Why do ye so?” This is the last religious revolution, and our faith and enthusiasm have been equal to every emergency. In all that we undertake we are in earnest, because we know that we are fighting under the bright and glorious banner of truth, and though the lot of man is trouble, and we are looking and preparing for it, and for the time when the whole world will unite to fight against this work, we have nothing to fear, for truth, though crushed to earth, will rise again.
If those not of our faith, who visit our cities, came with a determination to lay aside their prejudices, to learn the facts concerning us, or our religion, nothing would give more pleasure than to tell it them; but too many who have come here, after being treated with every politeness and escorted to seats in our tabernacle which are reserved for the stranger, sit there, under the very altar of the Lord’s Supper, in the hearing of Saints who assemble to worship God, and spit out their venom, or make ridicule of everything that we hold sacred.
But the most despicable characters are the overly righteous souls, who are filled with such holy horror at the mention of “Mormon” polygamy, and are the ones whom we look upon with suspicion, and set them down as among the most corrupt of hypocrites. It is through their paintings and misrepresentations that those at a distance join in the cry of the hunters and the hounds, for no other reason only because they see others do it. Many who are among us (for self-interest or jealousy) keep up the hue and cry about the dreaded “Mormons” who are spreading over these territories, etc., till their ignorant dupes might easily suppose that this people, who sought refuge in the Rocky Mountains, were preparing to swallow them up at one mouthful; and more than likely take in the whole planet.
If everybody had been as much concerned and interested in their own affairs, and attended as strictly to them, as have their far off peaceable neighbors (who believe in and practice the principle of “minding their own business”), they might possibly have kept their own gardens from being overrun with those rank weeds and briars, the thorns of which will yet tear and pierce their tender flesh till they are reminded of the innocent blood which they have caused to be shed, and of the tears of the widow and the fatherless and the oppressed exiles, who patiently endured long years of poverty and suffering, brought upon us in consequence of their cruel and wicked and falsehoods. It would be well for them if they would stop and reflect a little, and instead of shutting their eyes and ears listen to the voice of truth, and let common sense and reason govern them instead of that “green-eyed monster,” that fills their mouths with lying words, and “Slander, the foulest whelp of sin.” It was this that caused Cain to slay his righteous brother, Abel, and the Jews to hate and crucify the Savior, and to kill the apostles and prophets, because they would not forsake their religion; and as they have severely felt the result of it, so is this nation now feeling the scourging hand of the Almighty.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 13,
1 December 1881, pp. 97–99
As Rogers (author of “Pleasures of Memory”) says, “He who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigor and vivacity of his youth.” We know this to be true; and there is a tender and pleasant melancholy which arises in the mind of every one in the decline of life. He continues: “Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter passages of life. Events, the most distressing in their immediate consequences, are often cherished in remembrance with a degree of enthusiasm. This,” he says, “is the language of the heart, and will remind the reader of that good-humored remark in one of Pope’s letters, ‘I should hardly care to have an old post pulled up, that I remembered ever since I was a child.’” These words come home to the heart, and remind us of similar attachment to the place of our birth and objects and associations familiar to us in early youth.
Though pleasing the task, I often find it a very difficult one to gather up the many broken threads of the almost forgotten past, and weave them into a shape for the perusal of others, and it is a pleasant relief, like a cooling draught to the thirsty traveler, to find here and there a scrap of our history interwoven with that of others, bringing before us objects and scenes which were once familiar, but had become dim and nearly effaced from our memory by the hand of time, which has been to me unsparing in its ravages. How forcibly I am here reminded of my father’s request, in a letter written me in 1844, while upon his last mission to the eastern states, urging me to commence then to write my life as far back as I could remember, and to tell my brother William to do the same; “And then,” said he, “you can put all the letters I write you in their proper places, and when I write my history yours shall go in with it, to be handed down to our children for them to read.” I neglected to do so, and can only look back with regret at not heeding his wishes.
In the spring of 1842 father, with my brother William’s assistance, plowed and planted us a garden. This he did every season, but never had the privilege of reaping the fruits of his labor until after he came to this valley. It was a common thing for the elders, who left all to go forth to other lands to preach the gospel without purse or scrip, to return empty handed and go to work chopping wood, building houses, planting, or any kind of labor to support and provide food and raiment for themselves and families. They never thought of complaining, but rejoiced in the knowledge that they had been faithful in declaring the truth to the honest in heart, and thought no sacrifice too great in such a cause; and this they have continued to do until the present time. But where in all Christendom can there be found any other class of men who would willingly go forth, with no other source to look to for assistance, but to Him who commanded that His apostles should go forth into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, saying, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; and these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak in new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” Peter said, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,” etc.
These are among the doctrines which have been taught and practised by the Latter-day Saints, and for which they were persecuted, murdered, robbed and driven from state to state and finally out of the Union, and the majority of its inhabitants rejoiced at our calamities.
On the 10th of September my father left us to go on a mission through the southern part of Illinois, in company with Prest. Brigham Young, Elders George A. Smith and Amasa Lyman. The following is from my father’s journal.
“We proceeded to Quincy, and preached at that place several times. The indifference of the people and the little regard they appeared to have for the gospel, led me to reflect considerably upon the hardness of their hearts and situation. I went to bed and dreamed the following dream:
“I thought I went out on a fishing excursion, and whilst traveling up and down the stream to find a good fishing place, I was astonished to see so very few fish in the stream, and they were small and very shy. After traveling a while, I discovered some large fish lying across the stream, dead, and which smelled exceedingly bad. I then saw the reason why so few fish went up stream, and why they were so small and shy; it was in consequence of those dead ones lying across the stream.
“This is the dream; and in the morning the following interpretation was strongly impressed upon my mind. These dead fish represent the dead members scattered abroad, hither and thither, who are considered as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but are in fact but dead branches; they are not complying with the revelations of God, which command them to gather together to the body. And as the branch of the vine cannot gather sap and nourishment from the body when separated from it, so the members of the Church abroad, when commanded to gather to the body, cannot receive life and intelligence away from it, nor grow in the things of the Kingdom of God, as is their privilege; and such characters stand in the way of the gospel, and prevent many from obeying the gospel, through their neglect. I further thought that it was not impossible that the bad smell of the dead fish represented those people who are to be met with, some with a chew of tobacco in their mouths, and some a pipe, and others whose breath smells sufficiently strong of whiskey to sicken a sober man when he comes near them.
“Much of our time was spent in endeavoring to remove these obstacles, by persuading the members to comply with the commandments given on the subject, that the channel might be cleared and a way opened for more live fish to pass up the stream; and we hoped that we should yet see the stream full of live fish, and the fishing places become exceedingly good and live fish plentiful.”
The following interesting incident happened in the family of Elder Sidney Rigdon, and I heard him relate it upon the stand in the little grove by the temple. It was printed in the Nauvoo Times and Seasons, where I read it a short time since. It created quite a sensation at the time among both old and young. Elder Rigdon and family had been greatly afflicted, and his body had become considerably emaciated. For some time previous to this he had been slackening in his duty and his faith accordingly had weakened. His presence in the congregation, sitting once more in his place by the Prophet and his brethren, caused great rejoicing among the Saints.
He came, he said, not to renounce his faith in Mormonism, as had been stated by enemies and licentious presses, but to bear his testimony of its truth, and add another to the many miraculous evidences of the power of God, and unfold unto the audience a scene of deep interest which had occurred in his own family. He had witnessed many instances of the power of God in this Church, but never before had seen the dead raised; yet this was a thing that had actually taken place in his own family. His youngest daughter, Eliza, who had been very sick for a time, died. The doctor told them that she was dead. After she had lain in this state for a certain length of time, she rose up in the bed, and in a very powerful and supernatural tone spoke to the family to the following effect: said she was going to leave them, and had only come back to deliver her message, and then depart again. The Lord had said to her the very words she was about to relate. She was so particular in relating it that she would not allow them to leave out or add one word. Before dying she had expressed a great desire to live; but after her return to earth she expressed as strong a desire to go back. She called her family around her and bade them farewell. To her eldest sister she said: “Nancy, it is in your heart to deny this work; and if you do, the Lord says it will be the damnation of your soul.” To her sister Sarah she said, “Sarah, we have but once to die, and I would rather die now than wait for another time.” She told her sisters that the Lord had great blessings in store for them if they continued in the faith; and after delivering her message she swooned, but recovered again. During this time she was cold, and the only appearance of life was the power of speech. She continued in this state till the following evening—for the space of thirty-six hours—when she called her father and told him that the Lord had said to her, if he would cease weeping for his sick daughter, and dry up his tears, that he should have all the desires of his heart; and that if he would go to bed and rest, he should be comforted over his sick daughter, for in the morning she should be getting better and should get well. That the Lord had said unto her, because that her father had dedicated her to God and prayed to Him for her, that He would give her back again. This ceremony of dedicating and praying took place when she was struggling in death, and continued to the very moment of her departure; and she said the Lord told her that it was because of this that she must go back again, though she desired to stay.
She said concerning G. W. Robinson, her brother-in-law, as he had denied the faith the Lord had taken away one of his eye teeth; and unless he repented He would take away another. And concerning Dr. Bennett, that he was a wicked man, and that the Lord would tread him under His feet.
This is but a small portion of what she related. It aroused Elder Rigdon from his morbid state for a little season, but he soon sank again into the same lethargy, from which he never awoke until he heard of the martyrdom of the Prophet, when he hurried back to Nauvoo to claim the leadership of the Church. Previous to this, having become weary in well-doing, and having suffered enough, as he thought, he had left his post and moved with his family to Pittsburg.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 14,
15 December 1881, p. 106
For a long time there has been a secret something whispering, “Publish to the world not only the principles of your faith, but a true history of facts concerning the injustice done to an innocent people, and the trials and sufferings which they have endured from the world, because they would not deny their faith in revelation. Publish them upon the housetops, that they may reach the ears of the just and the honest in heart in all nations.” And I ask, is this not a duty devolving upon the sisters, in Zion as well as the brethren, who were partakers of their injustice, and therefore living witnesses against them? Should we not write them, to be handed down to our children and all future generations, that they may know the true history of those who endured all things which their enemies saw fit to place upon them, for the sake of establishing this work upon the earth.
Having lately enjoyed the privilege of looking over my father’s papers and journals, which had lain undisturbed ever since his death, I cannot express the joy I felt in finding among them the long-desired treasures—my father’s and mother’s letters—which I had feared were no longer in existence. Many of them were written when I was very young and during the deepest trials of their faith, the reading of which has awakened the memory of a thousand scenes and associations that would have remained buried in oblivion, had it not been for these records, which, to me, are more precious than gold.
A letter written by the Prophet Joseph and his brethren while in Liberty jail, Missouri, was among my father’s papers, and a portion of it being as appropriate today as then, I will copy a few lines:
“LIBERTY JAIL, JAN. 10, 1839.
“BROTHERS H. C. KIMBALL AND B. YOUNG:
“Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon and Hyrum Smith, prisoners for Jesus’ sake, send greeting. * * * * *
“Brethren, fear not, but be strong in the Lord and in the favor of his might. What is man, that the servant of God should fear him? or the son of man, that he should tremble at him? Neither think strange concerning the fiery trials with which we are tried, as though some strange thing had happened unto us. Remember that all have been partakers of like afflictions. Therefore rejoice in our afflictions, by which we are perfected, and through which the Captain of our salvation was perfected also. Let your hearts and the hearts of all the Saints be comforted with you, and let them rejoice exceedingly, for great is our reward in heaven; for so persecuted the wicked, the prophets which were before us.
“America will be a Zion to all that choose to come to it, and if the churches in foreign countries wish to come, let them do so. * *
“Brethren, pray for us, and cease not till our deliverance comes, which we hope may come. We hope, we say, for our families’ sake. Let the elders preach nothing but the first principles of the gospel, and let them publish our afflictions, the injustice and cruelty thereof, upon the hilltops. Let them write it, and publish it in all the papers where they go; charge them particularly upon this point.
“Brethren, we remain yours in hope of eternal life,
Where is there any other people who would endure tribulation, or think it needful to make such sacrifices through this life, for the sake of the life to come? Ministers of different creeds have picked out just such passages as they could turn into a proper shape to suit themselves, or their hearers—preaching more to their heads than to their hearts—pandering to popular feeling, to bring popularity and dollars, though the Bible (which they profess to believe) lays down but one rule for mankind to walk in, points out but one road to heaven, and these are laid down so plain by our Savior, that “a man, though a fool, need not err therein.”
The prejudice of the various sects against the Mormons was the same then as it is today. Hundreds were heard to say that they had never known Joseph Smith, but he was a false prophet and ought to die, and if they could come across him they would kill him as soon as they would a rattlesnake; and if the Mormons did not renounce their doctrine they would exterminate or drive them from the country. When asked what they had against the Mormons, the answer was, with an oath, “They believe in Joe Smith and the Book of Mormon,” and with another oath, “we believe Joe Smith to be a d——d rascal.”
This is a sample of the present toleration and inhuman conduct towards a little handful of people under a Republican government, and by professors of Christianity who pre-judge and enjoy listening to every falsehood against the Latter-day Saints, and would like to again drive us from our homes; but they will find it a more difficult task, as it happens (this time) that we are the first settlers and have a prior right, which we intend to hold and maintain. The majority of the world seem to have chosen to walk in the broad road which leadeth to destruction. The gate is too straight for them, and the way too narrow, and for this reason but few find eternal life.
When my father left us to go on his second mission, he made mother promise to write to him every particular concerning our situation, and I feel prompted to copy a portion of her first letter, which was dated Sept. 21, 1839. It gives a fair description of our condition and of the families of the elders who left them in Commerce, Illinois, to go forth in obedience to the command of the Almighty, to preach the Gospel to foreign nations.
“MY DEAR HUSBAND:
“With a weak and trembling hand I attempt to write a few lines, agreeable to your request, to let you know how we do, which is very poorly, I assure you. As to my feelings, I don’t know but I am perfectly reconciled to your going away, but I must say I have a trial of my faith such as I never had before. The day you left home was as sick a one as I ever experienced. The pain in my back and head was almost intolerable—no doubt the pain in my head was worse on account of my much weeping; but I did not weep after you left, for my distress was so great that I could not think of much else. William mourned and cried about all day, and had a chill in the evening. Sister Bentley stayed with me through the day; she was sick, but did all she could for me. Fanny Dort came over and stayed all night with me. I was alone a little while before she came. I then crawled out of bed and bowed before the Lord, and plead with Him to give us a good night’s rest, and He did so; and be assured I did not forget to pray for you.
“The next morning I felt free from pain, but was so weak and dizzy-headed that I could not walk without staggering. William and Helen were not able to do anything, so I was obliged to crawl around and do my chores and wash a little for the babe. No one to help me but little Heber, and I was soon overdone and brought on another chill, so that I had a very sick afternoon, and rested but little last night; have not been able to do anything today. I was taken this morning with a shake, and shook for an hour and a half as hard as I ever saw anybody in my life, and then weltered under a fever and extreme pain until almost night. William has just had the hardest chill that he has had in a number of days. Brother Rogers has been here and left more medicine, but it has done us no good, and what to do I don’t know. I have no one to get anything for me, or to do anything for my comfort. Brother Bentley has moved here, but Sister Bentley is very feeble, hardly able to do her own work. She is very kind, and would be glad to doctor us if she was able. Helen is not well any of the time, but is able to do some chores today.
“Now, I have given you a statement of our situation, not to make you feel bad, but because you requested it of me. * * * Thus you see, as I said before, I have a trial of my weak faith; but all that I can ask of you is, to pray that I may have patience to endure to the end, whether it be long or short. I feel as though if you ever see your family all alive again; it will be through your faith. “Saturday Morning.
“Dear Heber, we are all alive and tolerably comfortable this morning—would to God we could remain so through the day. We will hope for the best. Unless my health should improve I shall not be able to write you next week, as you requested, for I am growing weak every day. So farewell, my dear Heber; I pray that it may be well with you.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 15,
1 January 1882, p. 114
It being truths instead of fiction that I am writing, I hope to be pardoned for wandering back again to gather up life incidents. The history of the apostles, or the Latter-day Saints in Commerce, might be read with profit, particularly by those who, in these days, may possibly think their lot the hardest. Then the world might well have called the “Mormons” wretched, and a decrepit and dying-out people; but their spirits were generally buoyant—even in the darkest hour the Comforter was with them. Though left as our mothers were, struggling with poverty, disease and death, it was no wonder that, at times, their faith should almost fail them. The husband and father called to leave them in this sad and helpless condition, not knowing whether they would ever meet again upon this earth; taking their lives in their hands, with no worldly compensation offered them for their sufferings and the sacrifice of their beloved wives, children and homes, they went forth without purse or scrip to carry glad tidings to the nations of the earth, where they would have to combat all the evils, the prejudices and difficulties with which the world was filled. What more could they do to prove their integrity, their zeal and sublime devotion to the work which they had espoused? Truly “they went forth weeping, bearing precious seed; but returned rejoicing, bearing their sheaves with them.”
The following lines are from a letter written by my father after a very narrow escape from death, occasioned by an overdose of morphine, administered by a drunken doctor to give him relief. It is dated
“Pleasant Garden, Oct. 24, 1837.
“MY DEAR COMPANION:
“Through the goodness of God I am permitted this morning to sit down to write a few lines to you, that you may know how I get along upon my journey. I assure you that it is with trembling limbs that I do it, but to fulfil my word that I made to you I proceed.” After giving the particulars concerning his suffering and miraculous escape (which have been published) he continues: “My courage is good, and has been ever since I left home. Do not feel concerned about me, for I am in the hands of God. Never in my life have I undergone more in my feelings than since I left home about you and the children. Tell me all about them; how they get along. Tell William and Helen I think of them all the time; that I pray for them, and that I want them to pray for me. Tell little Heber to be a good boy, and kiss little David for me. Be prudent, and take care of yourself. * * * Give my love to all my friends. And now I bid you farewell for a little season.
“HEBER C. KIMBALL”
His next letter is dated Kirtland, Nov. 16, 1839; but being too feeble to sit up, Brother Dean Gould wrote the most of it for him. He says:
“I have arrived safe in Kirtland, but at the present time I am confined to my bed; have been quite low for several days, but through the grace of God I shall be able to go forth on my way rejoicing to do the will of my heavenly Master. * * I have made it my home at Bro. John Young’s, Brother Bond’s and Dean Gould’s, and have received the best of care. Last Sabbath Bro. John Taylor spoke in the forenoon, and I in the afternoon; had very good liberty. I spoke in parables generally, and some of them being so applicable to those that were before me; a judge came to me and wanted to know to whom I referred; I told him to no one in particular, but if the coat fit anyone they might put it on.
“Some others of the brethren have preached and gave good satisfaction; but as a general thing there cannot be a meeting without some dispute, yet there are some few who stand firm in the faith. I am greatly disappointed; I expected to find the brethren united and enjoying the blessings of the people of God, but found them broken up and divided into several parties. * * *
“Brother Taylor has been sick several days with the ague, and the rest of the brethren have been quite unwell, but are now on the gain. We still, God being our helper, feel determined to press our way onward. We have but little means to prosecute our journey, but still we think that some of us will be able to start within a few days.” He closes the letter with his own hand. He says: “You see that this letter is written by a strange hand. Bro. Bond and wife are true and steadfast; are much pleased that you are coming here. I have seen but few of the brethren, only in public; they have had several evening meetings. I have not been able to attend but one, and that was last Sabbath. I have got a very bad cough; took cold riding nights. I think I came near the time of my release when at Pleasant Garden. But be of good cheer, my dear Vilate, for this is only one more trial above the rest, so we have gained one more victory over the devil.”
In the suffering condition of the Saints who had sought refuge from the Christian mobbers of Missouri, and were lying sick and dying in Commerce, it looked impossible for their families to exist in their absence and under their impoverished circumstances. My father, Brigham Young and others felt that there would be no objections raised to their visiting among kindred and friends during their missionary labors in Europe. According to the following letter from father, dated “Victor, State of New York, Dec. 27,” he and brethren left Kirtland on the 22d of November for Fairport, where they were detained until the 26th by a tremendous snow storm; took steamer and landed at Buffalo on the morning of the 27th. Took stage the same day and went to Batavia; stayed there till the next day, and in the afternoon took the cars for Rochester. Father says: “When we got to Byron I got out and left the brethren, supposing Hall (his sister Eliza’s husband) was living there; had not more than got out before I was told that he had gone to Rochester. I think I never felt worse in my life—my anticipations were so great to see them; but I could not get away until the next night. Just at evening got aboard the cars and got to Hall’s at eight o’clock in the evening; found them well and rejoiced to see me. I stayed there one week, and was confined to my bed part of the time. I took cold on board the steamboat; had to take deck fare for want of means. The cold settled in my right side, and was so bad I could hardly draw my breath. Brother Thayre carried me to brother Solomon’s; found them well and glad enough to see me. Your letter got to Mendon about three weeks before I did. Sister Hall was at Solomon’s, and advised him to take it out. He did so; they broke it open, but could not tell where I was, supposed that I was dead, and had many bad feelings about me. There seems to be a great feeling of sympathy for us here. I have received great kindness from our friends in Victor. Several strangers have called to see me, and Lucretia (my mother’s sister) introduced me as her ‘Mormon’ brother. They appeared to take a great interest in our sufferings. This seems to be the feeling of all candid people. When I presented the presents you sent Lucretia, she wept over them, desiring to see your dear face once more. They wept over some of your letters, and laughed at the rest. *
* All of our friends want you to come here next spring and make them a visit. Caroline (his brother Solomon’s wife) says she will keep you three months or more, and all our friends seem to have the same feeling. They want me to go after you, which would be a pleasure for me to do, but this will not do; for my face is turned thitherward, for he that looketh back is not fit for the kingdom of heaven, and you would consider yourself disgraced in the sight of God and man.
“My dear Vilate, you know what we are called to do; we will press forward to the mark which is laid before us at the expense of all things. I was thankful to God to hear of your health, for I believe it is He who has raised you and the children up, for when I was in the town of Winchester, at Father Murray’s, I had such a travail of soul for you as I never had before. I would go into the woods four and five times a day to call on the Father in the name of Jesus for you. I saw you in a dream in a sickly state, almost dead; I clasped my hands on each side of your face and raised you upon your feet. And since that I have felt contented about you and the children; but once in a while, being among our kindred, it brings home back to me, and I feel a little homesick. They are all pleading with me to stay till warm weather, on account of my poor health. A little fatigue brings me down again.
* * *
“Dear Vilate, I hardly know how to express my joy, but suffice it to say, on the first day of the year one thousand eight hundred and forty I went into the water and baptized William E. Murray and wife, and they are rejoicing in God. The weather was as cold as it was when we joined ourselves to the Baptist church. They are very faithful, and remember you in their prayers. Your father says Gould can’t begin to pray like them; says it beats all that he ever saw. He has become firm in the faith and preaches it wherever he goes. He said to me one day,
‘Heber, I am as good a “Mormon” as you are.’ He is a great advocate for this work, and seems uneasy here, and wants to go back to the West. Says he would not stay here if he could have all the town of Victor, for the people don’t seem to him as they did. Your brother Gould and wife are about the same as ever, very proud. * *
“Bring all the little chickens with you. Sister Eliza would like to have one of them come there and go to school. Sister Malvina would take one, and I will pay them for it. Now, my dear Vilate, you know this would be better than to have them strolling around the country. Take counsel of some of our fathers in Israel, and see what they think best to do, for in much counsel there is safety. As for going to Kirtland to live, as things are now it is against my will; for I had rather live in a cave, or be driven with the Saints every year while I live, and be one with them, than to have all the good things of the earth and be at variance one with the other as they are there. I had rather go forth amongst the unbelieving gentiles, and suffer by them, than be among such people as those who have named the name of Mormon. I pray my Heavenly Father to deliver me from such while I live. If it be possible let the cup pass from me. Amen.”
My Grandfather Murray, though a believer in this gospel, had not obeyed the ordinance of baptism; but when he went back with father to visit his family and friends, he could see the beauties of “Mormonism,” which made him a strong advocate; but he died there in Victor not long after father left him, and on his deathbed he expressed his sorrow at not rendering obedience to its requirements.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 16,
15 January 1882, p. 122
The following correspondence between my father and mother may prove interesting to others, more particularly to the ones who were connected with the Church in an early day and know something of its history. The first, written by my mother, is in answer to father’s, and it expresses the joy and consolation which nothing but this gospel brings; and this is enjoyed by every true Latter-day Saint.
“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.”
“COMMERCE, Feb. 2, 1840.
“My Dear Husband:—I have received your letter of January 27, which gave me great joy; not to hear of your sickness, for that pains my heart, but that you have been an instrument in the hands of God of converting some of my dear kindred to a knowledge of the truth. Yea, I feel that this is a recompense for all my privations in having you gone from me; for how great in the sight of God is the worth of one soul. Is it possible that my dear brother has become a praying man? Do you think he has got the root of the matter in him, so that he will hold out to the end? If so, what an unspeakable blessing!
“You have very kindly offered me the privilege of visiting my friends the coming summer; at the first thought my heart leaped for joy, but upon more mature consideration, I think perhaps it would not be wisdom. I should have to sell everything we have to bear our expenses, and then to be visiting so long with the children, it would be quite a task; and if I should get ever so tired of it, I should have no home, nor anything to keep house with. I feel as you do about settling in Kirtland; I cannot think of changing my good neighbors here for the society of those who are at variance one with the other. There is a perfect union here, and we have meetings at our house twice a week. But I cannot make up my mind what I shall do until Joseph gets home from Washington; I shall take counsel from him. It will then be time enough to let you know.
“You will be so long getting to your journey’s end, I very much fear that you will not get home next fall. The time seems long, and I want to hear from you often. I feel more anxious about your poor health; I long to get one letter that will not give the painful intelligence that you have been sick again.
“William is very anxious to go East, and no wonder, for he has not been able to do a day’s work this winter, and thinks he never shall if he stays here. * * I have been sorely afflicted with a cancer wart in the palm of my hand, but thank the Lord it is now as well as ever. I often think that the hand of affliction is not taken from you, or we should all be well, for your faith would be stronger; but I have great cause to be thankful, for through the kindness and generosity of our neighbors we are made comfortable for food and wood.
“Brother Don C. Smith called in and saw me writing, and wished me to give you his respects; also Bro. Charles C. Rich. He and family have been very kind to me; I think they are the best of neighbors. * * Our children talk much about their poor father, and long to see him. They join with me in love.
“From your affectionate wife,
The next received from father was dated New York, Feb. 19, 1840. He says:
“My health is much better and my spirits good. I feel to press forward in the name of Jesus Christ. I am sensible that the Lord will try His Saints to the uttermost, for it seems as though the devil was determined to destroy my life and the lives of my brethren, the Twelve; but they all seem to have good courage as yet. Brother Brigham fell and hurt himself quite bad, but is getting better, and his health is improving. Brother George A. Smith has the chills yet and is quite poorly. Brothers Orson and Parley enjoy good health. * * *
“While in Mendon I preached four times, and had many calls to go and preach in other towns and places. Brother Solomon did not go to hear me; I think I never saw him more set against this work; I did not stay with him but four or five nights. The sun of peace did not abide there, and I felt greatly distressed while with him. In Victor I had several calls to go to Pike to preach. After being much wrought upon I consented; William and Mary went with me. We got to Adolphus Hewet’s the first day of February; I never saw a person more pleased than his wife was to see me; said she had been calling on the Lord that He would send me there. Sunday morning we went to the Christian chapel. * * They gave out an appointment for me to preach Monday evening; said they were willing that I should preach, because they were in such a cold state I could have no effect upon them. The house was crowded. My text was the Second Epistle of John, the 9th and 10th verses. When I was almost through speaking, two of the ministers came crawling into the pulpit. I gave them permission to speak. One (a Baptist priest) rose up and found fault with me for preaching from the Bible. When he had set down I rose and answered him. Then one of the others rose up, till four of the ministers spoke. I answered all of them, and they were confounded and began rather to make ridicule. My speaking once, caused such an excitement that it took four to put it down; and their rising made it worse, for it opened the eyes of the people. I baptized Hewet’s wife, and many believed. * * *
“We returned to Victor on the 7th, and I left there on the 10th, arriving in Albany on the 12th. Found Wheeler there (a brother-in-law), and stayed with him that night at the hotel; he paid my fare and said if I would stay one week he would pay my bills. He thought me very unwise to go any farther. * *
“Next day I took coach for New York; the fare was nine dollars. Went upon the east side of the river, crossed the Catskill Mountains; took three days to get to Jersey City. When I got there I had not one penny left, and they would not let me pass without paying twenty-five cents. I told them I was out of money, and there was a gentleman gave me a quarter, and I crossed the river into New York at nine o’clock in the evening. Went to the Western Hotel and pawned my trunk for my stopping over night. Next morning went and found old Mr. Fordham, who directed me to Brother Parley’s, where I found Orson and Brigham; were all glad to see me. This was Sunday, and in the afternoon I met and preached to one hundred and fifty of the Saints. It was a great pleasure to meet with them; they were very kind to me, and gave me money to redeem my trunk. * *
“I ate but one meal a day on my way to New York—this was for the want of money—but I neither went hungry nor athirst.
“I received your letter of Nov. 4, which had lain in the office for a long time. It was a great comfort to learn that you and the children were so much better. May God grant the blessing of health to rest upon you and the children forever. Brother Orson Pratt and myself were called upon to visit a very sick woman; she could not turn herself in bed. We anointed her with oil in the name of the Lord, and she was healed and made whole. She did not belong to the Church, nor her husband; but in two days after she and husband were baptized, and fourteen others.
“Brothers Woodruff, Taylor, Clark, Mulner, White and Turley have sailed for England.
“Tell my dear little children that I am glad to hear that they are faithful to pray for their father.”
The following is from his last letter before crossing the ocean:
“NEW YORK, March 5, 1840.
“My Dear Companion:—This day I received your letter of Feb. 2, with feelings of joy. I went to the office every day, and had nearly given up the chase. I feel thankful that you and the children are alive. My health is improving; is much better than when I wrote last. My labor is quite hard; I have to go to meeting every night, and don’t get to bed till twelve or one o’clock; this overcomes me once in a while. The Lord is here in this city, and the honest in heart are enquiring the way to heaven; there are calls on all sides to come and preach. We are to sail next Saturday for England, on the Patrick Henry, if the Lord will. We were disappointed in not going aboard the Garrick; they would not take any passengers, could make more to carry freight. Owing to being detained, we have Parley to go with us. * * I have received great kindness since I came to this city, and also my brethren.
“You wanted to know if your brother William had the root of the matter in him. I can say, yes; I never saw one more so. You know that he is a go-ahead man and has a mind of his own. He has a great desire to see you and have you teach him of the things of the kingdom. * * * I want you to come and visit with our friends, but I don’t want to settle in the East unless times change.
“You did not say anything about that little black-eyed girl that lives with you. Tell William to be a good boy, for the Lord will heal him. I feel that He will bless you all with health. Give my love to our little ones, and to Brothers Joseph and Hyrum, and all others who love the Lord.
“Your affectionate husband,
“HEBER C. KIMBALL.”
Witness the sacrifice and continuous self-denial of the servants of God, resisting and turning away from every temptation, and the allurements of a worldly nature; struggling with poverty, disease and death, and all the other untoward circumstances; traveling without purse or scrip to the nations and islands of the sea, to preach the faith and doctrines of an unpopular sect. Where (except the Mormons) are the ministers who have professed Christianity that have ever manifested such indomitable courage, perseverance and endurance for the sole purpose of preaching salvation to the honest in heart? The Twelve Apostles understood their grand and glorious mission, which had been given them by revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith; and though conscious of their weakness, they feared nothing, for their strength lay in the arm of Jehovah; though they were often brought to death’s door, He was their refuge, and they rejoiced notwithstanding their afflictions. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”; and as Jesus said, “There is no man that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my sake and the gospel, but he shall receive a hundred fold now, and in the world to come eternal life.” “Blessed is he that endureth temptation; for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised them that love Him.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 17,
1 February 1882, p. 130
We had known little but sickness and want in Commerce, and the thought of leaving there and returning to our early home and kindred was indeed a delightful one to us children, who laid out many a plan for future pleasures and enjoyment with our little friends and cousins, in roaming over Mendon and Victor soil; but, alas! we were doomed to disappointment.
Sister Young, we heard, had received a letter from Uncle Brigham, telling her to come to Kirtland; and my brother William, who had been down to see them, returned with the news that they were packing up. Sister Orson Pratt who was living with us, met Bro. Hyrum Smith that day and spoke of Sister Young’s going east; he said he should advise her, by all means, to stay where she was.
My mother had taken no decided step, nor did she intend to until Joseph returned from Washington; but when she heard Brother Hyrum’s mind upon the subject, she gave up all thought of going back, and thus all the airy castles which we had built were thrown to the ground.
Joseph had gone to Washington to lay the case of the Missouri persecutions before Congress, and was accompanied by Sidney Rigdon, Judge Elias Higbee and O. P. Rockwell. The feeling of injustice manifested towards him and his people was no less then than it is today, though at that time polygamy had not been revealed; and when we hear people say that that is all that is offensive in “Mormonism,” the only feeling we can express is pity and contempt, for they are wilfully ignorant.
The Prophet Joseph’s last interview with President Van Buren and John C. Calhoun are worthy of note, as the feeling then was quite in keeping with the present generous and magnanimous spirit manifested by the sectarian world towards an innocent and inoffensive people. The Prophet says:
“During my stay I had an interview with Martin Van Buren, the President, who treated me very insolently, and it was with the greatest reluctance he listened to our message, which when he had heard he said, ‘Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you; and if I take up for you, I shall lose the vote of Missouri.’ * * * I also had an interview with Mr. John C. Calhoun, whose conduct towards me very ill became his position. I became satisfied there was little use for me to tarry to press the just claims of the Saints on the protection of the President.”
When Joseph returned to his people it must have been with a feeling of relief, knowing that he had done his duty, and therefore cleared his skirts. The God of heaven had overruled it so, and His Prophet and Saints felt to say, Amen; for they knew as well then as they know today that “No weapon that is formed against His people shall prosper.”
Soon after his return, Joseph wrote a letter to General Bennet, from which we take the following, showing there was no spirit of discouragement. He says:
“It is our intention to commence the erection of some public buildings next spring. We have purchased twenty thousand acres of land in Iowa Territory, opposite this place, which is fast filling up with our people. I desire all the Saints, as well as all lovers of the truth and correct principles, to come to this place as fast as possible, or their circumstances will permit, and endeavor, by energy of action and concentration of talent, to effect those objects that are so dear to us. Therefore, my general invitation is, let all that will come, and partake of the poverty of Nauvoo freely.”
My father’s first letter from England, dated April 6, 1840, was received on the last day of May, bringing the welcome news that they had landed in England, though they had had a very rough voyage, it being March, which was considered the worst month in the year upon the ocean.
I copy the following extracts from my mother’s letter, for the benefit of those who were connected with her during her earthly pilgrimage. They will no doubt bring back many a forgotten scene and incident to their recollection. She writes:
“We are thankful to hear that you and your brethren’s lives were preserved amidst the dangers of the ocean; that you have safely landed on Europe’s shore, and are enjoying once more the blessing of health. * * The Lord is able to preserve whom He will, and I trust He will preserve you and bring you safe home; for it seems an age since you left us. * * I have had another attack of the ague this spring; yesterday I was very sick, but feel better today. Our babe has been quite sick ever since I had the ague; he took it from me. William has worn it out fairly; has got so he can work and not bring it on.
“The brethren have fenced and ploughed my land, and William has planted it. He has been to school some, and I intend he shall go more. Truman Barlow keeps school in this neighborhood; Helen goes when I can spare her. I teach Heber at home, for I know of no way that I can pay their schooling. It is very annoying to my feelings to be dependent on the Church when the Saints are so poor. * *
“I have no reason to complain, for I do not suffer for anything, and often I wish I could know that you were as comfortable. We hear of the distress and trouble in England, and I feel for the Saints there; but the Lord will provide for those that put their trust in Him. * * Brothers Hyde and Page started over two months ago for Jerusalem, and are preaching their way through with great success. * *
“I have just heard that there has been a request sent by the people of Iowa to Joseph to preach next Sunday. There are between two and three hundred people coming down the river to hear him. He has requested the brethren to give them seats near the stand. Joseph has preached several times of late, and told many of the mysteries of the kingdom. There are more or less baptisms every week. The Saints are gathering here very fast, and the place is being built up with great rapidity.
“I attended a party last Thursday at Bro. Robert Thompson’s; it was three years that day since they were married. They celebrated the day by preparing a feast for the wives of all the elders that had gone to England. They were all present but Sisters Hadlock and Woodruff. Brother Hyrum Smith and wife and Brother William Law and wife took supper with us, after which we had singing. Bro. Thompson then offered up a very appropriate prayer for us and our husbands. We then parted. * * Sister Woodruff is here on a visit; she has little Wilford, three months old, with her. Sends her love, and wishes you to inform her husband that she and children are tolerably well. The brethren have a bee today to put up houses for the families of the Twelve that have none.” * *
In another letter I find an interesting item concerning the Prophet Joseph’s receiving a visit from one of the Nephites, who told him he had been through England, Ireland and that the work of the Lord would be short and powerful in those places. He also told him many things about this land (America), many of which have been fulfilled.
Mother, fearing her letter might be miscarried, refrained from telling all that she had heard Joseph relate, but said: “Suffice it to say, trouble is to begin at the election (which is the first day of the coming February), and great and wonderful things are to be brought about.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 18,
15 February 1882, p. 138
There are no doubt hundreds still living who heard the Prophet relate the circumstance mentioned in my mother’s letter of one of the old Nephites visiting England, Ireland and Scotland, and they can bear their testimony to the fulfillment of Joseph’s predictions on that day, as well as all the rest up to the present time.
In another of my mother’s letters, speaking of the signs of the last days which were seen in various parts of the world she mentions the following incident, which was seen by different parties in Nauvoo, and by my request brother Joseph Kingsbury, a man widely known and respected for his truth and honesty, wrote the following account which I here give verbatim.
“In the spring of 1840 about eight o’clock in the morning Mrs. Rhoda Whitney sister-in-law to Bishop N. K. Whitney and her brother John Ballard, my wife Caroline Whitney and myself were crossing the Mississippi river from Montrose to Nauvoo when we saw the following strange spectacle.
“When we had got about one third of the way across the river we saw a couple of men about sixty rods down the stream riding on horse back on the top of the water. They were going diagonally down the river in the direction of Joseph Smith’s residence.
“We stopped our skiff and watched these men until they reached the shore. Just as they arrived at the shore the horses suddenly disappeared and the strangers remained on the shore, the horses trotted along on the top of the water just as they would have done had they been trotting through a very shallow stream, gently splashing the water hither and thither. We resumed our rowing but our attention was constantly directed towards them as they stood on the shore until our view was obstructed by a bend in the river.
“Jos. C. KINGSBURY.”
Near this time some of the worldlings a few miles below Nauvoo were reported to have seen upon the river two horses, one black and the other pale. They with their riders landed in Missouri.
The Latter-day Saints had reason to believe that great events were near at hand but they could hardly realize the extent of them. The Church being then in its infancy they understood but very little concerning the plans and purposes of the Almighty. They thought they had sacrificed and suffered enough from the scourgings and oppression of their enemies in Ohio and Missouri and that they would soon be gathered back to their homes from which they had been so cruelly driven. It had not been revealed to them how great and marvelous a work the Saints of God were destined to accomplish before being prepared to go back to enjoy their possessions where they were to build up the centre stake of Zion, which is in Jackson County, Missouri.
Most of the inhabitants of that state were filled with jealousy and hatred which increased as our prosperity and power increased. Not long after we settled in Commerce, four brethren were carried by them into Missouri. One was a brother Brown, whom they hung until nearly dead, to force a confession from him, but he made his escape by leaving his clothes and wandering three days without food. He brought word that they had whipped two of the brethren—one of them nearly to death when he fainted. They stopped whipping him until he revived a little, and then they commenced whipping him again; but as no confession could be forced from them, they were committed to jail for trial.
Brother James Allred was taken by them and after having been tied to a tree and threatened for some time, he was told that his grey hairs would clear him and they set him at liberty.
Governor Carlin said he would take the matter into his hands and would go to the extent of the law, if it caused a collision of the two states.
The following interesting items I copy from my mother’s letter to father, dated Sep. 6th, 1840.
She says: “The brethren are still moving in here very fast, several wealthy families arrived last week from Philadelphia. I hope they will help to build up the place. It is so sickly here it is almost discouraging, there has been rising of fifty deaths here within a few weeks past, the sickness is mostly among those who have come in this season. Mother Beamen was buried one week ago today. She died of the cholera morbus—was sick but a few days—Seymour Brunson is also dead, everything was done to save him that could be done, but the Lord had need of him. A short time before he died he told Joseph not to hold him any longer ‘for’ said he, ‘I have seen David Patten and he wants me, and the Lord wants me, and I want to go.’ They then gave him up; at one time as Joseph entered the room, he told him that there was a light encircled him above the brightness of the sun—he exclaimed, ‘The room is full of angels they have come to waft my spirit home.’ He then bade his family and friends farewell and sweetly fell asleep in Jesus.
“He requested Joseph to preach his funeral sermon, which he did. It was attended by thousands of people. He was buried under arms. The procession that marched to his grave was judged to be a mile long. A more solemn sight I never witnessed, and yet the day was joyful, because of the light and glory that Joseph set forth. I can truly say my soul was lifted up.
“I enjoy myself as well as I can deprived of your society. My health is much better than it was the forepart of the summer. Helen was attacked very violently with chills last week, but through the goodness of God she is again restored. William works at Dr. Williams’; they keep tavern in the house where Brother Granger lived; have all been sick more or less all summer. William has also been attacked once or twice with chills since he lived there. The doctor gave him something that broke the chills. They are very careful of him, and he has a horse to ride wherever he goes. Brother Joseph Young volunteered to get up a contribution to get me a cow, and he has bought me a good one, for which I feel very thankful. Brother Charles Hubbard gave me a pig last spring, which I think if fed well will make our meat for winter. I have plenty of vegetables and garden sauce, so I shall not have much to buy but bread. I hope I will not have to call on the bishop again while you are gone. I have no fears about getting along. The Lord is multiplying my friends daily; yea, I have more blessings than I am worthy of; I think it is because I have a worthy husband. I think much of our English sisters. * * * I am glad that Brother Brigham has sent some assistance to his family, for they are needy enough. Their house could hardly be called a shelter; they will soon have it fixed now.
“Elizabeth and Vilate are both sick with chills and fever; the rest of the families of the Twelve are well as far as I know. I called on Sister Young day before yesterday, and carried a letter that I had just taken from the office; it was from Brigham, written the last of June. They were rejoiced to hear from him again. They were in good spirits, and when they get their house done they will be quite comfortable.
“Our little David is over one year old. I can brag no more of his little plump body and rosy cheeks, though his eyes are as black and sparkling as ever. He has cut four teeth, which has made him pretty sick; but I pray the Lord that he may live that you may see him again. * * * The children join me in love to their dear father.
“I had anticipated seeing you this fall, but if it is the Lord’s will for you to stay longer, His will and not mine be done. President Smith says I must always remember him to you.”
I have sketched these few incidents to show how the Lord will bless and provide for those who are willing to serve Him; who can say like the Psalmist, “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound, they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. For the Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our King.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 20,
15 March 1882, pp. 159–60
The anxiety expressed in my parents’ letters concerning their children’s going to school, brings up a subject much harped upon by outsiders, who have always declared that “Mormons” were opposed to education. This of course has no foundation, except in their own disordered brain, which is fed by the distorted tales of people who have no higher ambition than to invent and magnify falsehoods against the Latter-day Saints. Thousands can testify that wherever our lot has been cast, almost the first building put up has been the schoolhouse. In the little town of Far West the Saints had a large and commodious one, far superior to the ones built by the Gentiles in my native town, and in Kirtland, Ohio, where I was taught my earliest lessons. The first thing my parents thought of wherever we stopped was to send us to school. While at Winter Quarters in the Omaha nation, we had one taught by Sister Emmeline Whitney, who is now Emmeline Wells, editor of the EXPONENT. * *
During my school days we were moving about from place to place, and being subjected to constant interruptions, it made our early studies less salutary. It was no easy matter for a child to all at once settle down to dry books; and schools and books were not then what they are now, for little children had to study out of the same that the elder ones did; and when we consider the thousand and one adverse circumstances with which we as a people have had to contend for so many years to be able to retain even an existence upon the earth, we feel satisfied that we are deserving of the praise and eulogies of our nation, which any other community would have received; but instead of our just dues, we have been subjected to the impositions of a set of lawless landsharks, who are too lazy to work, and therefore wish to rob the “Mormons,” although they know them to be an honest and industrious people, out of their hard earnings, and the meanness to which they have stooped to accomplish this would make even Satan blush.
If the outside world wished to inform themselves of the truth they could do so, if they would put aside their prejudice when they visit our beautiful cities and homes, they could learn the truth concerning us and our faith and practices; and if they were honest they would never again accuse us of being a low, ignorant or benighted people.
If the Mormon emigration had consisted of the wretchedly deformed and idiotic beings which they have been represented, there must be a charm, or something very peculiar in our religion and organizations to have accomplished so great and wonderful a transfiguration; for we have seen nothing to warrant such stuff. But among those who are gathered here are some of the brightest and most skilled mechanics and workmen—if they were not, how could we have managed to have these fine houses built and such beautiful farms and cities in these mountains, independent of our enlightened Christian neighbors?
The following is true and quite apropos to the subject: “Some suppose that every learned man is an educated man; no such thing: that man is educated who knows himself, and takes accurate common-sense views of men and things around him. Some very learned men are the greatest fools in the world; the reason is—they are not educated men. Learning is only the means, not the end; its value consists in giving the means of acquiring that, the use of which, properly managed, gives tone or direction to the mind.”
If not among the most wealthy and learned of the earth, we have at least our share of intellect and talents, of which the world cannot rob us; and the wonderful experience of this people has served to develop and bring them into use. We all know that the most unpromising have often, by patient study and perseverance, become the brightest; and we also know that what has been accomplished in these mountains no other people, with all their boasted wisdom and learning, ever dreamed of doing until the “Mormons” had shown them how. Our enemies are well aware of these facts, and the only way of hiding them from the world is to continue throwing dust in their eyes.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 21,
1 April 1882, p. 162
The following interesting incidents I sketch from letters written by my mother to my father while on a mission.
The first dated October 11th, 1840, says, “Conference closed last Monday. It was the largest and most interesting one that has ever been held since the Church was organized. The people that attended were estimated at four thousand, some thought there were more. Much business was transacted and many good instructions given. Brother Joseph has opened a new and glorious subject of late, which has caused quite a revival in the Church; that is being baptized for the dead. Paul speaks of it in First Corinthians 15th chapter 29th verse. Joseph has received a fuller explanation of it by revelation. * * * * Since this order has been preached here, the waters have been continually troubled. During conference there were sometimes from eight to ten elders in the river at a time baptizing. * * * Those who have no friends upon the earth to act for them, can make their wants known to whomsoever they will, through ministering spirits; and by so doing we act as agents for them. Thus you see there is a chance for all. Is not this a glorious doctrine? Surely the gentiles will mock, but we rejoice to have the gospel preached to the spirits in prison, and give them the privilege of coming forth in the first resurrection. President Smith in company with several brethren have bought a steam boat, which is now running from St. Louis to Galena. They calculate in the spring to run it to Wellsville. Perhaps you will have the privilege of coming home on it.”
In another letter she says, “I mentioned in my last, that our people had bought a boat. They have named her Nauvoo. The last trip she made up the river, Brother Joseph Smith went with her, and when he returned who should accompany him but John Boynton and his wife, and Lyman Johnson. They made it their home at Joseph’s all the time they were here. I never saw Joseph appear more happy. Said he ‘I am going to have all my old friends around me again.’ Both of them bought lots and calculate to build here. As to their faith I have not heard much about it, but conclude they have got some, or they would have no object in coming here. I never saw anyone appear more glad to see me than John’s wife, they called us all brothers and sisters. The day I spent with them was one long to be remembered. * * *
“I feel very grateful to you and Brother Brigham and all the Saints who have administered to my necessities, may the Lord reward them fourfold. The things all came safe and in an acceptable time, I can assure you. * * * Sister Bently (formerly widow of David Patten) was very thankful for her present, Sister Husband too. Sister Bently was very sick the day I gave it to her. The next day she felt the chill coming on, her mother told her to put her shawl around her. ‘Well’ said she, ‘who knows but Bro. Kimball has sent a blessing with it, people anciently were healed with anything that the apostles had touched, and I will put it on and claim the blessing.’ She did so and her chill immediately left her; she was quite smart all that day and so thankful that she could not speak of it without weeping.”
A few extracts from my father’s letter written one year from the time he left us in Commerce, may prove interesting. He gives some idea of the sacrifice that was required at the hands of the apostles to prove them, whether or no they were the true servants of God who were willing to trust Him, and go forth in obedience according to the pattern laid down by our Savior, “without purse or scrip” to bear the true message of salvation to those who sit in darkness. They were told in the beginning, that it would require their whole souls and courage like that of Enoch, for they would be considered the worst of men; but not to be discouraged at this for when God pours out his spirit, the enemy will rage. “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 place where we were then living was named Springvale because of the numerous springs in that vicinity.
The letter bears the following date:
“September 19th, 1840.
“MY DEAR COMPANION:
“It is one year yesterday since I left you in Springvale, sick on your bed. After I started, you recollect, I called you to the door to bid you farewell. I tell you, my dear Vilate, that time will be remembered by me as long as time lasts. No man could suffer more than I did in my feelings, no and I hope I will never have to again while I live on earth; I think if ever one man did, I have left all for the cause of Christ. Oh the feelings that I had no man has language to express; I must say that my constitution is broken down. I have aged more in one year past than in five years previous, and I suppose it has been the same with you. Brother Brigham Young and George A. Smith, have failed in the same way. When I look back on the journey that we have traveled and the sickness that we have passed through I do not wonder at all, and as you say it seems like an age to me. Last week I was taken with the cholera in the evening and it appeared to me as though I could not live till morning. I was cramped in my legs and body, was in a strange place and no one to assist me; chills came on me in the night and it seemed as though I should freeze to death before morning, I was obliged to leave my bed and get in with Brother George. The next day my legs were so numb that I could scarcely walk. It held me about three days and brought me quite low. I am doing tolerably well at present. Brother Woodruff left us about two weeks ago. We had not baptized but one here in the city before he left. He felt almost discouraged, said he never saw such a hard case before in his day. Every door closed against us and every heart. We traveled from day to day from one part of the city to the other to find someone that would receive our testimony, but it seemed all in vain for some time; at last we found one old Cornelious that was ready to receive our testimony as soon as he heard it.
“Last Sabbath I went forward and baptized four. This was after I was attacked with the cholera. I thought it would do me good to go into a cold bath. Last night I baptized four, and more are going next Sunday. So you see the ice is broken in London and the truth has got such a hold the devil cannot root it out; but, he is very mad and I am glad, I shall never try to please him the Lord assisting me. You may think that I feel discouraged. I will say I have never seen the first moment as yet, I do not see anything to discourage me but everything to the reverse. I know that I am built on the foundation of Jesus Christ and the apostles and I know that my name is written in heaven and that I shall come forth in the first resurrection, that is if I should lay in the dust before that time comes. It matters not to me whether I die or live if I do the will of my Father who is in heaven; and I know by the voice of God and by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and by the power of God and by more than one hundred testimonies that I could mention if it was needful, that this is His work. You know Vilate that it is not a small thing that casts me down. Now my dear companion pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ to uphold me that I may continue to the end and magnify my calling in the sight of God and angels and all holy men that have gone before us; and rather than let me fall that He will take me to himself, for I know and He knows that I wish to become a man of God in the full sense of the word; and I know that I cannot become thus except He be with me, for in and of myself I am nothing, nor is any other one; they may continue for a little season in their own wisdom but they will fall at last and go down to perdition. I speak of these things because I feel my weakness before God.”
In the same letter he describes some of the sights, witnessed by himself, Brothers Woodruff and George A. Smith. “On the 5th, of September” he says, “we visited West-minister Abbey and went through every department, saw all the tombs and monuments of the kings and queen and lords who are laid therein, and sat in the chair in which Queen Victoria was crowned, and all the kings and queens for the last eight hundred years; so you may know that it is quite an old chair and is worth going some distance to see. We also went to St. James Park and saw the queen’s troops—two hundred horsemen and all had black horses. I never before saw so beautiful a sight. There was about 400 footmen and a beautiful band of music. * * * On the 8th of September we visited the House of Commons.
“On the 17th, Elder Smith and myself visited the queen’s palace, saw her horses which are of a cream color, there are twelve of them and four are put before the carriage at once. The carriage of state weighs four tons, is twenty-four feet in length, the most superb that was ever built in Europe. There are eight or ten others similar; probably 150 more horses kept for her majesty. I saw the palace of Queen Adelaide, King William’s wife. * * * We went through all the stables, and harness house and all that appertains to it. You would be astonished to see the stir there is made over a little queen, at the same time thousands starving to death for a little bread; but they have their reward. ‘Blessed are the poor for they shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.’ The rich and the proud have their reward here, and we shall have ours hereafter, so I do not envy them. The work of God is spreading in every direction. I received a letter from Elder Richards yesterday. He is well. There has been fifteen or twenty baptized in Manchester every week, and so it is in Preston and every other part that I can hear from. B. Young got news from O. Pratt, and I received a letter from John Taylor. They are well. Since we have been here in London I have received thirty-one letters from different parts of the land all things go well at present; but the devil is angry and also his comrades. There is great opposition in England and it is growing worse every day. Remember me to all of the Saints from England, if they have reached there. Give my love to Bro. Joseph, Elder Rigdon, Brothers Hyrum, Don Carlos Smith and families; and Brother Thompson and wife, Brothers Hubbard, Bently, Rich, Joseph Young, Israel Barlow and their wives and all the wives of the Twelve and finally everybody else that you see and may the Lord bless them all is my prayer for Christ’s sake, amen.”
This letter came at a time when my mother was overwhelmed with sorrow, having just received the heart-rending news that her dear father was no more.
She being the youngest child had been nearly the idol of her family. Her father had passed through the troubles in Ohio and Missouri and had followed us to Nauvoo and this was the longest time we had been separated. The last tidings received from him, he was well and calculating to start on his journey home on the 1st, of October, and we had been daily anticipating his arrival.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 23,
1 May 1882, p. 178
Before closing the correspondence between my parents during their separation in 1839 and 40, I will copy a few extracts from another of my mother’s letters to father.
She writes: “I must tell you a little more about our English sisters. One week ago yesterday a number of them came to see me. I will mention their names, Sister Pool, Sister Ware, Sisters Margaret and Lydia Moon, and Susannah Moon. I must say I never enjoyed a visit better. They seemed as glad to see me as though we had always been acquainted. When they first came in, after shaking hands with me, the next object that caught their eyes was our little David.’ Ah!’ said they, ‘there is Heber, see his eyes.’ They then went to the bed to lay off their things, and there beheld your portrait, and such another ado I never heard. ‘Oh!’ said they, ‘it is so like him,’ and then they wept like children, and all said I must give their best love to you. All of the English Saints, that I have seen seem to be contented and happy; but I am told that some of them murmur very much, especially the B——s, I expect they have got too much money to be happy here.
“Brother Lyman Johnson, called the day that the sisters were here, and had quite a chat with them. They all sang so beautifully that it was quite a paradise. One of their songs was for you to come to Zion instead of to England. Sister Moon says that I must expect to have my house full for a time after you come home. Please give my love to Elders Woodruff and Smith, and tell them I thank them for the few lines they wrote me. Tell Brother Woodruff his wife left here in company with two of her brothers, about a week before Elder Turley arrived. She proposes visiting her parents in the state of Maine, and remain until her husband returns from Europe. You can inform him, that the things sent to his wife all came safe, and I have them in my care agreeable to her request. * * * The children are impatient to have you come home; you are losing all of the most interesting part of little David’s life. A child is never so pretty and interesting as when they first begin to walk and talk. He is now well and goes prattling about the house, and you may be assured we all think him very cunning. He is called Heber altogether by the neighbors. Everyone says that ought to be his name. Brother Charles C. Rich says, if he lives he will look as much like you as Seth did like Adam—who could only be distinguished by their eyes. Brother Rich and wife send much love to you, also Brother Hubbard and wife, and family, and all of the neighbors. Sister Sarah Millican and Louisa Beamen, were here yesterday and wished to be remembered to you and brethren, also Sisters Laura and Abigail Pitkin, they are faithful to pray for you. They say you promised if they would be, they should be partakers of your blessings. Please give my love to all your quorum and all the Saints who enquire after me. We are all well except William, who has just got his ankle bruised with a wagon running over it; but I think the bone is not hurt. Your journal is now in press. Now farewell my dear Heber, and may the Lord bless and comfort your heart in Christ is the prayer of your unworthy companion,
The journal which my mother mentioned as being in press, is now at the Juvenile Instructor Office, where I have lately sent it, and it may be in the press, which is quite a coincidence being about forty years from the time that it was first published in Nauvoo and this was an old number found among my father’s papers.
The following interesting incident was related to me by Brother Charles W. Hubbard who stayed with us a portion of the time during our late conference. As is well known President Young was very sick when he crossed the Mississippi River, and was brought by a brother to the house of Heber C. Kimball, the day before they started upon their mission to Europe. My father was also sick with the same disease (ague) but after the fever went off he climbed upon his house and was trying to finish the roof when his brother missionary (Brigham Young) came out to walk a little to try his strength, but in the effort fainted and fell to the ground. Father not having strength to lift him, called to brother Charles W. Hubbard, who lived just across the river, to come and assist him in bringing President Young into the house; where, after placing him upon the bed, they administered to him and again he recovered. Bro. Hubbard said that father followed him to the door, as he started for home, and said, “Charley I doubt very much if Brigham ever rises from that bed”; but had no sooner uttered the words, than he spoke up as with another voice and said, “He shall live and start upon his mission with me tomorrow morning,” and sure enough they did start the next morning, as (I think) no other missionaries ever did, and they performed the work for which they were sent, as the following from the Prophet Joseph’s history will show.
“All the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who were expected here this season, with the exception of Willard Richards and Wilford Woodruff, have arrived.
“We have listened to the accounts which they give of their success, and prosperity of the work of the Lord in Great Britain, with pleasure. They certainly have been instruments in the hands of God, of accomplishing much, and must have the satisfaction of knowing that they have done their duty. Perhaps no men ever undertook such an important mission under such peculiarly distressing, forbidding and unpropitious circumstances. Most of them, when they left this place, nearly two years ago, were worn down with sickness and disease, or were taken sick on the road. Several of their families were also afflicted, and needed their aid and support. But knowing that they had been called by the God of heaven, to preach the gospel to other nations, they conferred not with flesh and blood, but obedient to the heavenly mandate, without purse or scrip, commenced a journey of five thousand miles entirely dependent on the providence of that God who had called them to such a holy calling.
“While journeying to the seaboard, they were brought into many trying circumstances. After a short recovery from severe sickness they would be taken with a relapse, and have to stop among strangers, without money and without friends. Their lives were several times despaired of, and they have taken each other by the hand, expecting it was the last time they should behold one another in the flesh.
“Notwithstanding their afflictions and trials, the Lord always interposed in their behalf, and did not suffer them to sink into the arms of death. Some way or other was made for their escape; friends rose up when they most needed them, and relieved their necessities, and thus they were enabled to pursue their journey and rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. They truly went forth weeping, bearing precious seed, but have returned rejoicing bearing their sheaves with them.”
What, but religion could have prompted the apostles and elders of this Church, to leave their homes, wives, children and every earthly tie, taking their lives in their hands, as they did, to go forth into the world without purse or scrip, which they have done from the beginning until the present time? The elders of this Church have never preached for hire, no nor have the poor, whom they have converted and gathered to Zion, ever been shut out from the congregations, because they were unable forsooth, to pay for a pew, or to make a display, of the latest and richest styles of dress and bonnets etc.; but the rich and poor have fared alike; though many, because of prosperity, have become lifted up in the pride of their hearts, and seem to have forgotten the Hand that led them forth from the darkness, ignorance and bondage, in which they were held in their native lands, making them a free and happy people, and have sought with far greater energy for the wealth and honors of the world, than for the love of the Father who giveth or taketh away, as seemeth Him good. But they are not the ones who will come up in remembrance before Him, for He says “Blessed are ye poor for yours is the kingdom of God.” “But wo unto you that are rich for ye have received your consolation.”
We read that our Savior was lowly, uneducated, and much poorer in worldly circumstances, than was Joseph Smith the Prophet, and his friends and associates (according to history) were also of a poorer class, simple in their ways and habits, and if He “had to sink below all things, that He might rise above all things,” then how can anyone else expect to be exalted or to dwell with Him in the eternal worlds, unless they are willing to follow in his footsteps; to be humbled, chastened, scourged and afflicted, and endure all things? For He says “I will have a tried people,” and “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every one whom he receiveth.” The chaff must be sifted out. The allurements which are thrown around us are very great and so dazzle the eye, that unless we keep a faithful guard over ourselves—holding onto the Iron Rod, we are in great danger of being swallowed up, in the same whirlpool where so many have been lost; “Selling their birthright for a mess of pottage,” and would have sunk to rise no more.
Those who have not the knowledge and assurance that the course which they are pursuing is according to the will of God, cannot endure all these afflictions and persecutions, taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods and even if necessary to suffer death, by the hands of their foes. They will grow weary and faint and fall by the way unless they have unshaken confidence and a perfect knowledge for themselves. They cannot make a sacrifice of their character and reputation; and give up their houses, their lands, brothers, sisters, wives and children; counting all things as dross, when compared with the eternal life and exaltation, which our Savior has promised to the obedient; and this knowledge is not obtained without a struggle nor the glory without a sacrifice of all earthly things. In the last days (we read) the Lord is to gather together his Saints who have made covenant with Him by sacrifice and each one must know that their sacrifice is accepted as did righteous, Abel and Abraham the father of the faithful. Every Latter-day Saint knows this to be true, and that according to our faith so are our blessings and privileges.
Anciently, we read, that nothing was withheld from the ones whose faith was sufficient to receive it. The mouths of the lions were stopped, and the violence of fire quenched, they were valiant in fight, and escaped the edge of the sword, and put to flight the armies of the aliens. Women, by their faith, received their dead children to life again, and obtained heavenly visions, the ministry of angels, and some became familiar with the third heavens, saw and heard things which were unutterable, and unlawful to utter. Many of the Saints can testify that they have witnessed just as powerful miraculous manifestations, as did the ancient women of scripture, so have many of the “Mormon” women obtained heavenly visions, their sick have been healed and even the dead raised to life again.
A grand and glorious work is this which the Lord has set his hand for the last time to perform, and how vain and worthless is the wealth and pomp of this lower world, when compared with the great exaltation and glorious riches of eternity which will endure forever; and how small and insignificant does it make the works of man appear to Saints of God, who are awake and have in weakness girded on the armor of truth and righteousness, and now stand firm upon the watch-tower waiting to witness the grand tableau, yea, the closing, the winding up scene of the Almighty King of Kings, and Lord of Lords who has ever been our friend and advocate and his spirit still whispers to his Saints, Fear not for as the poet said:
“I have beheld my love and mercy scorned;
Have seen my laws despised, my name blasphemed,
My providence accused, my gracious plans
Opposed; and long, too long, have I beheld
The wicked triumph, and my saints reproached
Maliciously, while on my altars lie,
Unanswered still, their prayers and their tears,
Which seek my coming, wearied with delay;
And long disorder in my moral reign
Has walked rebelliously, disturbed the peace,
Of my eternal government, and wrought,
Confusion spreading far and wide among
My works inferior, which groan to be
—Pollock’s Course of Time.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 10, no. 24, 15 May 1882, pp. 185–86
I will now begin where I left off. My father, Brigham Young, George A. Smith and Amasa Lyman were on missions preaching in the southern part of Illinois. The following extracts were written by my mother to father; it is dated: “NAUVOO, Oct. 16th, 1842.”
She says: “We still enjoy a comfortable degree of health, though in the midst of sickness and death. Sister Winchester said she saw four coffins carried by her house yesterday, in one wagon—there are more or less buried every day. Almost every family on the disputed land are sick with a fever. Helen watched last night where there were seven in one family all sick—the woman nigh unto death. * * * *
“Sister Marinda Hyde is sick with chills and fever. Brother Joseph and Emma were sick when Brother Brigham left. Emma was brought down nigh unto death; Brother Joseph despaired of her life, he mourned over her and refused to be comforted. But the Lord has spared her life and she is now able to ride out. Joseph was obliged to leave her before she was able to sit up. He has left the place. I don’t know where he is but suffice it to say they hear from him occasionally and all is well. * * *
“You mentioned my meeting you on your return home. I shall be happy to do so if circumstances will admit. * * *
“Our good friend S. (Sarah, father’s other wife) is as ever, and we are one. You said I must tell you all my feelings; but if I were to tell you that I sometimes felt tempted and tried and feel as though my burden was greater than I could bear, it would only be a source of sorrow to you, and the Lord knows that I do not wish to add one sorrow to your heart, for be assured my dear Heber, that I do not love you any less for what has transpired, neither do I believe that you do me; therefore I will keep my bad feelings to myself, as much as possible, and tell you the good. I can say with propriety that the most of my time I feel comfortable in my mind, and feel that I have much to be thankful for. I realize that the scenes we are called to pass through are calculated to wean us from the world, and prepare us for a better one. My desire is to live while I can be a comfort to you and bring up our children, for I don’t know of a person on earth that I should be willing to leave them with.
“Brother Joseph felt it very keenly when he thought his wife would not live. ‘Oh dear,’ said he, ‘what will become of my poor children?’ * * *
“Brother Joseph Kingbury has buried his wife today. She was confined yesterday. She and child died within a half an hour of each other. * * *
“I must tell you of a little of the prosperity in Quincy. Sister Pinkham came up to teach Brother Adams; says there was a great turn out in Quincy to hear him preach. The courthouse was filled to overflowing, and many were believing; and she expected that Mr. Heywood would be baptized when they returned, and she did not know but his brother-in-law, Kimball would also. * * I must leave room for Sister S. to write you a few lines. * * *
“I asked little David today, what I should tell Pa; said he, ‘Tell my Pa turn home see me.’ I must now bid you good night.
“As ever your affectionate wife;
The family that my mother mentions where I watched had lately come then from England and were all laying sick in a house at the steamboat landing. Katherine Walker, who was living with Emma Smith, Diantha Farr, and myself sat up together. Joseph and his family attended to them, and provided medicines, watchers and whatever was needful, and this was only one case out of many where he acted as the “good Samaritan.”
Here is what my father’s wife, Sarah, wrote on the same sheet, though her name she withheld because of the perilous times.
“My very dear friend: Inasmuch as I have listened to your counsel hitherto I have been prospered, therefore I hope that I shall ever adhere to it strictly in future.
“Your kind letter was joyfully received. I never read it but I receive some comfort and feel strengthened, and thank you for it. You may depend upon my moving as soon as the house is ready. I feel anxious as I perceive my infirmities increasing daily. Your request with regard to Sister Kimball I will attend to. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to add to the happiness of my friends; I only wish that I had more ability to do so. I am very glad we are likely to see you soon, and pray that nothing may occur to disappoint us. When you request Vilate to meet you, perhaps you forget that I shall stand in jeopardy every hour, and would not her absent for worlds. My mind is fixed and I am rather particular, but still, for your comfort, I will submit.
“I am as ever”
It will be seen by the few lines written in connection with my mother’s letter that Sarah Peeke Noon, who the Lord commanded through his Prophet Joseph, that my father should take to wife, was sealed to him, by the Prophet, as early as 1842. Joseph Smith, who professes to be his father’s successor, has (in an anti-”Mormon” meeting, lately held in Chicago, a city noted for its crimes, and the deepest dens of infamy and corruption, the description, which was lately given by a rev. in that city, is so soul sickening that it may well be called the Sodom of the West; which is ripening so fast that it may soon be wrapped again in another consuming fire) declared that it was not until 1852 that polygamy was attempted to be introduced in the teachings of the church, and that its introduction was a “shameless trick of wicked men, who were obliged to find an excuse to cover up their crimes.”
He must be blind not to see that his own tongue has condemned him, not only as an uninspired leader, but an unprincipled enemy to his own father’s house. For he says, “In 1855 he began a crusade on his own hook, and in 1860, when he entered public life, it was with the avowed determination to oppose polygamy evermore.”
Now what man of God ever went to work on his own hook, or even thought to set up his own will independent of revelation from on high?
The man, whoever he was, who told Elder Joseph Smith that if an angel were to come down from heaven and tell him polygamy was wrong he would not believe the angel, was just as much of an impostor as the Prophet’s son, who made the following reply, “I would believe, but I would tell the angel to go to someone else, for I would not preach the doctrine.”
A poor captain and soldier of the cross he would make to stand as his father’s representative to carry out the purposes of the Almighty, for which the Prophet was willing to suffer with his people, and endure every kind of persecution, imprisonment and death, for the sake of the religion which his son Joseph, under the inspiration of the Evil one, has denied, and is now leagued himself with the worst enemies of his father to destroy the work for which he had to suffer so much and at last lay down his life.
His son declared that, although he had been accused of being an apostate, he had always been true to the faith taught by his father; and “I have eagerly sought for a proof of the divine inspiration of polygamy, but cannot find it, and believe the doctrine to be infamous, root and branch.”
Here he contradicts himself, which is only another proof of his infidelity and lack of inspiration, and wisom from on high. He was hardly old enough when his father was killed to know or understand what his faith consisted of; but if he entered public life with this avowed determination, which he declares he did, how could he expect to obtain any proofs either one way or the other? For the Lord requires of his children honesty and sincerity of heart and purpose, in which selfishness must have no place, and
“This prayer pray: Lord God! Thy will be done;
Thy holy will, how’er it cross my own,
Hard labor this for flesh and blood.”
Subduing our wills and the pride of our hearts is the deepest and hardest lesson that mortals have to learn.
If Joseph Smith was in possession of the true faith and gospel of Christ, such as his father enjoyed, he would now be treading in his footsteps; being hated of all men, and suffering persecution for righteousness sake, instead of being where he is and lowering himself by joining in the hue and cry of the low, contemptible and foul-mouthed hypocrites who can scarcely say that which is mean enough against his martyred father, and his most true and humble followers.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 1,
1 June 1882, pp. 1–2
The next important event, which I remember in our family, was the birth of my brother Charles S. which happened Jan. 2d, 1843.1 confess that I was a disappointed and most ungrateful girl when hearing the news, as I had so long desired a little sister; and my feelings were so soured, that I said some harsh and unbecoming things, and was determined not to welcome the little stranger. I tried to steel my heart against him, but in spite of me the love would come. My mother being in a feeble state of health I had to take almost the whole care of him during the first year or two. He was very delicate and had some severe spells of sickness, and my love and tender care increased with the days and months and I never wearied of my charge. When about two years old he became strong, healthy and the pride of my heart. The pleasure I felt in dressing and taking him out with me was quite equal to all that I had ever anticipated in a little sister, and even my affection for him surpassed any that I had ever felt for a baby.
Though I have not the date I remember the birth of another son by my father’s wife Sarah which happened not far from the time that my mother’s was born. I had no knowledge then of the plural order, and therefore remained ignorant of our relationship to each other until after his death, as he only lived a few months. It’s true I had noticed the great interest taken by my parents in behalf of Sister Noon, but knowing their kind benevolent natures towards everybody that came under their notice, I thought nothing strange of this; but I will confess that, during those times, I thought my mother overly kind to always take her into her buggy and crowding me out of what I considered, my place by her side; and I sometimes felt to complain, but unless I was willing to sit behind on a lower seat, I was welcome to walk or remain at home; but, not caring to do either, I generally submitted, as gracefully as possible, to ride behind.
My mother was possessed of a most kind and unselfish nature, and her life was filled up with just such noble, self-sacrificing deeds; and by them she won the love of all; and among the most devoted were my father’s faithful wives, who admired him more because they knew he loved her best; and with him they mourned for her as their dearest and most enduring friend.
He was often heard to say that he did not care how soon he followed her, and he lived but nine months to mourn her loss.
The following extracts from letters written by my father while upon his mission with Brigham Young and others in the southern part of Illinois I copy, with the hope that some benefit may be derived from the perusal of them, more particularly the young and inexperienced. They show the childlike humility and sincerity of heart, such as none but an honest man, could feel and express, and none other would ever take the step that he did, nor continue to endure such heart-aching sorrow, as I know he did, for the wife of his youth, who with him in that early day yielded obedience to a principle that required lifelong sacrifice and self-denial. Their all was laid upon the altar, to gain that glory which the Lord had given my mother a slight glimpse of, in answer to her humble heartbroken prayer. “Where there’s no cross there’s no crown.”
I think that no honest heart can read the outpourings of his soul and ever doubt the motive that prompted him to take upon himself burdens and responsibilities, such as himself and brethren were called to do, in marrying a plurality of wives, for it did not add to their domestic happiness in this life, but brought not only anxiety, care and sorrow but placed their lives in jeopardy, and they did not know but the consequences would be imprisonment and death; but they knew that it was a command from the Almighty and they obeyed God rather than men.
This letter bears the date of Oct. 23d, 1842.
“My dear Vilate: I am at Brother Evan Greene’s. We have held all of our conferences, have had two meetings today being the Sabbath. Some have been added to the church and prejudice is considerably laid. Monday we shall go to Jacksonville, then on to Springfield. I shall be home in two or three weeks if the Lord wills it so. Since I left you it has been a time of much reflection. I feel as though I was a poor, weak creature in and of myself, and only on God can I rely for support. * * I have been looking back over my past life before I heard the everlasting gospel. It makes me shrink into nothing and to wish that I had always been a righteous man from my youth, but we have an advocate with the Father, and I can look back since I came into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with a degree of pleasure; but I can see if I had more knowledge I could have done better in many points. * * I feel as though I had rather die today than be left to transgress one of his laws, or to bring a disgrace upon the righteous cause which I have embraced, or a stain upon my character; and my prayer is day by day that God would take me to himself rather than I should be left to sin against Him, or betray my dear brethren who have been true to me and to God the Eternal Father; and I feel to pray to thee, oh Lord to help thy poor servant to be true to thee all the days of my life, that I may never be left to sin against thee or against thine anointed or any that love thee, that I may have wisdom and knowledge how to gain thy favor at all times, for this is my desire, and that these blessings may rest upon my dear companion, and when we have done our work on this thy footstool that thou wouldst receive us into that kingdom where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the holy prophets have gone, that we may never be separated anymore, and before I should be left to betray my brethren in any case, let thy servant come unto thee in thy kingdom and there have the love of my youth, and the little ones that thou hast given me. * * Now my dear Vilate stand by me even unto death, and when you pray, pray that I may hold ‘out to the end. * * My heart aches for you and sometimes I can hardly speak without weeping and that before my brethren; for I have a broken heart and my head is a fountain of tears. My life in this world is short at the longest and I do not desire to live one day only to do good and to make you happy and bring up our little children in the ways of the Lord, and my prayer is that they may be righteous from the least to the greatest. * * The world has lost its charms for me, and I want to seek for that rest which remains for the people of God. I never had a greater desire to be a man of God than at the present, that I may know my acceptance with Him.”
His next letter was written from Springfield Oct. 25th.
“My dear companion: I have just returned from the office where I found a letter from you, and I need not tell you that it was a sweet morsel to me. I could weep like a child if I could get away by myself, to think that I for one moment have been the means of causing you any sorrow; I know that you must have many bad feelings and I feel to pray for you all the time, I assure you that you have not been out of my mind many minutes at a time, since I left you. My feelings are of that kind that it makes me sick at heart, so that I have no appetite to eat. My temptations are so severe it seems sometimes as though I should have to lay down and die, I feel as if I must sink beneath it. I go into the woods every chance I have, and pour out my soul before God that he would deliver me and bless you my dear wife, and the first I would know I would be in tears weeping like a child about you and the situation that I am in; but what can I do but go ahead? My dear Vilate do not let it cast you down for the Lord is on our side; this I know from what I see and realize and I marvel at it many times. You are tried and tempted and I am sorry for you, for I know how to pity you. I can say that I never suffered more in all my life than since these things come to pass; and as I have said, so say I again, I have felt as if I should sink and die. Oh my God! I ask thee in the name of Jesus to bless my dear Vilate and comfort her heart and deliver her from temptation, and from all sorrow and open her eyes and let her see things as they are, for Father thou knowest our sorrow; be pleased to look upon thy poor servant and handmaid and grant us the privilege of living the same length of time that one may not go before the other, for thou knowest that we desire this with all our hearts * * and then Father, when we have done with our career in this probation, in the one to come may we be still joined in one, to remain so to all eternities, and whatever we have done to grieve thee be pleased to blot it out, and let us be clean and pure before thee at all times, that we may never be left to sin or betray anyone that believes on thy name; save us from all this and let our seed be righteous; incline their hearts to be pure and virtuous, and may this extend from generation to generation, let us have favor in thy sight and before thine angels that we may be watched over by them and have strength and grace to support us in the day of our temptation that we may not be overcome and fall. Now my Father these are the desires of our hearts and will thou grant them to us for Jesus sake and to thy name will we give all the glory forever and forever—, amen.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 4,
15 July 1882, p. 26
With all the false traditions in which we were born, and in consequence of the degenerate tide with which the human family have been drifting for generations past, and as the Lord had no organized priesthood on the earth, it is not to be wondered at that in our ignorance of His ways the feelings of our natures should rebel against the doctrine of a plurality of wives. I remember how I felt, but which would be a difficult matter to describe—the various thoughts, fears and temptations that flashed through my mind when the principle was first introduced to me by my father, who one morning in the summer of 1843, without any preliminaries, asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives, can be better imagined than told; but suffice it to say the first impulse was anger, for I thought he had only said it to test my virtue, as I had heard that tales of this kind had been published by such characters as the Higbees, Foster and Bennett, but which I supposed were without any foundation. My sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure; for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, No, I wouldn’t! I had always been taught to believe it a heinous crime, improper and unnatural, and I indignantly resented it. This was the first time that I ever openly manifested anger towards him; but I was somewhat surprised at his countenance, as he seemed rather pleased than otherwise. Then he commenced talking seriously, and reasoned and explained the principle, and why it was again to be established upon the earth, etc., but did not tell me then that anyone had yet practiced it, but left me to reflect upon it for the next twenty-four hours, during which time I was filled with various and conflicting ideas. I was skeptical—one minute believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast her off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right. I knew that he loved me too well to teach me anything that was not strictly pure, virtuous and exalting in its tendencies; and no one else could have influenced me at that time or brought me to accept of a doctrine so utterly repugnant and so contrary to all of our former ideas and traditions. This was just previous to his starting upon his last mission but one to the eastern states. Fearing that I might hear it from a wrong source, knowing, as he did, that there were those who would run before they were sent, and some would not hesitate to deceive and betray him and the brethren, he thought it best that I should hear it from his own lips.
The next day the Prophet called at our house, and I sat with my father and mother and heard him teach the principle and explain it more fully, and I believed it, but I had no proofs only his and my father’s testimony. I thought that sufficient, and did not deem it necessary to seek for any further, but had I been differently situated like many were without a father and a mother to love and counsel me, probably my dependence, like theirs, would have been on the Lord, but I leaned not upon His arm. My father was my teacher and revelator, and I saw no necessity then for further testimony; but in after years the Lord, in His far-seeing and infinite mercy, suffered me to pass through the rough waves of experience, and in sorrow and affliction, I learned this most important lesson, that in Him alone must I trust, and not in weak and sinful man; and that it was absolutely necessary for each one to obtain a living witness and testimony for him or herself, and not for another, to the truth of this latter-day work, to be able to stand, and that like Saul, we “must suffer for His name’s sake.” Then I learned that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” and that “He is nigh unto all those that call upon Him in truth, and healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds.”
In a few days from this, my father started for the eastern states. My baby brother had been very sick and was barely convalescent when he left.
He wrote me from Pittsburg, that was more than forty years ago; and though his letters are now worn and yellow with age, and the fingers that wrote them are laid under the cold and senseless turf, yet the sublime truths, though taught in simple words, will never perish, no, never; and often as I read them, I drop a silent tear and am led to say:
“I owe thee much. Thou hast deserved from me Far, far Beyond what I can ever pay—”
Here is a copy of the letter written me from Pittsburg, July 10th, 1843:
“My Dear Helen.—I still remember what I told you when I left home, that I would write you. You have been on my mind much since I left home, and also your dear mother, who has the first place in my heart, then my dear children and brethren and sisters who have passed through much sorrow and pain for the cause of Christ.
“My dear daughter, what shall I say to you? I will tell you, learn to be meek and gentle, and let your heart seek after wisdom, and always speak kindly to your dear mother and listen to her counsel while you have her with you, for there is no one that feels the care for you that she does. My child, remember the care that your dear father and mother have for your welfare in this life, that all may be done well, and that in view of eternal worlds, for that will depend upon what we do here, and how we do it; for all things are sacred. God knows my heart and how I feel for my dear family. My prayer is that he will incline our hearts to serve him all the days that we shall live on the earth and our children after us through all eternity, that none of them may ever swerve from these fixed principles of virtue and to be endowed with the wisdom of God, and to be kind and merciful to all the human family, as far as mercy can have any claim on the souls of men; so let our love abound. As we measure to the human family, so it must be crowned upon our heads, either in time or in eternity. It is always time to do good, and as to wrath we will measure that out as God shall direct, and not as we will, for God says, ‘Vengeance is mine, and I will repay.’
“Let us seek to be true to our integrity, wherever we shall make vows or covenants with each other; then we have got in that narrow way that leads to eternal life. Now let us be careful that we do not make a breach, but let us learn by the things that we see others suffer, and not have to pass through them ourselves. You have some experience, and you see others walking through trouble and sorrow, because those who have covenanted to be their friends have betrayed them; for instance, look and see what the Prophet has to pass through. This comes upon him because of the treachery of some who have promised to be his friends and the friends of God. We should have no trouble if it were not for such persons. They make league with our enemies, Judas like.
“Oh, God, save me and my posterity from treachery, and let our hearts be filled with true integrity and benevolence to the human family; if we have ever varied from these principles, forgive and give us light to walk in the light, as thou, oh, God, art in the light. Our hearts are known unto thee, and we desire to continue in thee, as the branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can we, except we abide in thee. Save us from our enemies, and let us live long and do much good, and see thy work prosper and spread forth on the right and on the left, and see our enemies fall and come to naught. Now, Father, I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“I have written as it has come to me. I think this is the first that I have written to you. I hope it may not be the last. I hope we shall live to see many good days, and be a comfort to those of our kindred who have not yet come to the light of the gospel as we have. I have a longing desire to live many years and live that life that becomes a man of my profession, which is an apostle. I hope that I may live in honor of this title, that it may be handed down with delight by my posterity which shall follow me. Now, my dear Helen, pray for your dear father, that he may have strength to fight the fight of faith and win the prize and come off with honor in the sight of God, angels and men.
“Now, Helen, study to be a comfort to all who are connected to us by the ties of nature, and also to those who have received the gospel of Christ. Be a pattern of good works, and let your locks go down with honor. Envy no one, though they may think they are far above you. Now, listen with care and be meek, and no good thing shall be withheld either in time or in eternity, and you shall shine forth as the sun at noon day. Seek to be a comfort to your parents, brothers and sisters, and to your friends and connections, and all who love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Probably I have said enough upon this subject at this time.
“My health was tolerably good till I got to Cincinnati, then I had symptoms of chills. * * * I was introduced to a very respectable family by the name of Baker, who were Baptists. They were very kind to me and my brethren. There was an English lady living with them as governess to their daughters, instructing them in education and taught them to play on the piano.
“While I was there, she was taken sick and lay nigh unto death. She told me she could not live, but told Mrs. Baker that she would like to have me pray for her. I did as she had requested, and went back to my room, where I found Elder Pratt. In about twenty minutes, she came to our door and said she was well. She left the house and went around telling the people what had been done. After I had gone to bed, I was called up by Mr. Baker, as his daughter was very sick. I laid hands upon her and she was healed and went to sleep. She was well in the morning, and they were all believing. I baptized Mr. Baker and his daughter before I left.
“We reached this place on the first day of July. I was taken with the influenza. It seemed to me I could not endure it, my lungs were so bad; have not seen one well day since I came here. Elder Snow took it while on the boat, Elder Pratt also.
“Last night I was taken with the cholera morbus. It seemed to me as though I could not live till morning. There were three brethren with me a good part of the night. * * * If you will examine the papers, you will find that this complaint is raging through the East. Elder Page is sick with it. There have been five baptized. They are a good people here. I think we shall leave this week for Philadelphia. * * * We are very sorry that Elder B. Young does not come on.
“We have had some hints that Brother Joseph is taken with another writ. I wish that I could know. * * * I expect that I shall find a letter at Philadelphia and get the news.
“I received a letter from your mother by Phineas, and was glad to get it. I have read it until it is almost worn out. Will write to her in a few days; have not been able to write before for some time; my head was so dizzy and I felt very poorly. I wrote one to William, and hope that he has received it. Tell your mother to write without fail. * * * I hope to soon hear from poor William. How I long to hear from my dear family, for I love them with a perfect love, and there is no other thing that could induce me to leave them but the cause of Christ. That is all to us, for it is our meat and our drink to do the will of the Father in heaven.
“Now my dear child, be humble, and pray for your dear parents, that they may have strength to win their way through with honor and integrity before God, angels and men; that we may be crowned together in the eternal worlds, where we shall never part, where pain and sorrow and grief shall not be known; where we can enjoy the society of our dear children and friends throughout all eternities.
“Now, Helen, kiss your dear mother for me, and tell her to kiss the dear little babe for me. I can hardly think of him without weeping. I received the little lock of hair she sent me and carry it in my pocket. * * * Give my love to Bishop Whitney and family, and to Sarah Noon. Tell her to be of good cheer, and also Brother and Sister Billings, and all that inquire for me.
“If you should see President Smith, give my kindest love to him. I hope that he is not in the hands of his enemies; if so, God will deliver him. * * *
“My everlasting love to your dear mother and the children. “As ever, your dear father in Christ to his daughter in Christ,
“HEBER C. KIMBALL.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 5,
1 August 1882, pp. 39–40
The following is a short sketch of the rise of the young gentlemen and ladies Relief Society in Nauvoo which was printed in the Times and Seasons in the year 1843, and the reading of it will doubtless bring to many a friend of yore pleasing reminiscences of the days when we were young.
“One evening in the latter part of January last, a few young people having assembled at the house of Elder H. C. Kimball; the follies of youth and the temptations to which they are exposed generally, but more especially in our city, became the topic of conversation. The company were lamenting the loose style of the morals, the frivolous manner in which they spent their time, and their too frequent attendance at balls, parties, etc., when Elder Kimball proposed that an appointment should be given out expressly for the young ladies and gentlemen, and he would give them such instruction and advice as the spirit of the Lord might suggest to him; which, if followed, would doubtless lead to a reformation in the conduct of his young friends. This proposition was received with delight, and acted upon with alacrity.
“An appointment having been given out, a number of the young people assembled at the house of Elder Billings, when Elder Kimball addressed them for some time upon the duties of children to their parents, to society and to their God; exhorting them to lay aside their vanity, light-mindedness, pride and frivolity; and endeavor to show themselves worthy of the religion which they had embraced; advising them to shun evil company, (for by an individual’s company is his character estimated,) and to be obedient to their parents, for this was the first commandment with promise.
“This address was so well received by the assembled congregation that it was voted, almost by acclamation, that a similar meeting should be held on the ensuing week. An appointment was accordingly circulated for the next Wednesday evening at Brother Lorin Farr’s schoolhouse, as Elder Billings house was too small to contain the assemblage.
“On the appointed evening, the room was filled to overflowing. Elder Kimball addressed the crowded, but silent and attentive congregation, for the space of an hour; in that plain, simple and affectionate manner which goes directly to the heart, and which is so natural to the speaker. He first explained the duty which the youth owed to themselves, and the manner in which they might obtain honor and respect, viz: by applying their minds with determined perseverance to all the studies commonly deemed necessary to fit them for active life and polish them for society, and not only to these but also to the study of scripture, and the Book of Mormon, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and the most theological work of their most talented elders. By pursuing this course, said he, ‘you will be enabled to give a reason for the hope and the joy which exists within you, you will always be prepared to explain the doctrine in which you believe, you will ever be ready to prove and defend your religion, you will be well received in company and will be esteemed by all wise and good men. We who have borne the heat and burden of the day will soon go the way of all the earth and give place to you my young brethren. You will soon come upon the stage of action, and be called upon to carry the glad tidings of the new and everlasting covenant to the remotest parts of the earth, and proclaim the news of gospel grace to a lost and ruined world. Strive, therefore, to show yourselves worthy of your calling: be dutiful, be humble, be faithful, be obedient and acquit yourselves like men, and men of God.’ He concluded his interesting discourse with a general exhortation to keep all of the commandments of God, to associate with none but the wise and virtuous, and lastly to keep themselves pure and unspotted from the world. This discourse, like the preceeding one, was received with delight by all the hearers.
“Brother Farr then made a few short but pertinent remarks, when a vote was taken whether the meetings should be continued, which was carried unanimously in the affirmative.
“This room being also too small, the next appointment was made for the meeting to be held at the house of President Joseph Smith.
“Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather the house was completely filled at an early hour, and numbers were obliged to depart for want of room. The assembly were, as usual, addressed by Elder Kimball, who, in a solemn and impressive manner, warned the young people against the evils to which they were exposed, and the temptations to which they were peculiarly subject; not only from their youth and inexperience, but also from their sanguine and excitable temperament. He exhorted them to be guided by the voice of reason and judgment, and pay strict attention to the advice and command of their parents, who being of maturer years and a longer experience, are much better calculated to guide the pathway of youth, than they themselves. He warned them against giving heed to their passions, which, he said, would lead them into many snares and difficulties. He advised them never to be too forward in company, for ‘a wise head keeps a silent tongue’; to be condescending to their inferiors, kind and conciliating to their equals, and deferential, not slavish, to their superiors. He warned them against frequenting balls and such places, which, he said, would generally lead to many evil practices, and draw away the mind from more innocent amusements, and from their duty to their parents. He said ‘he had not now, nor ever had, any objections to having young people meet together in social parties, or indulging in any rational amusement; but, he strongly opposed carrying it to extremes, as it generally was.’ He concluded this address by exhorting them to give heed to his advice, for it was according to holy scriptures, and ‘to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’
The house being still too small, the next was appointed at the lodge room over President Smith’s store. At the appointed time this large room was filled to overflowing, and the great numbers which assembled testified to the increasing interest in which these meetings were held by the youth of the city. Again Elder Kimball addressed them and gave them such advice as would be useful to them at the present time and also in their future lives.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 6,
15 August 1882, pp. 47–48
At the next meeting President Joseph Smith was present and addressed the young gentlemen and ladies for some time. He expressed his gratitude to Elder Kimball in the strongest terms, for having commenced and carried on in so masterly a manner the good and glorious work he had undertaken. He said it would be the means of doing a great deal of good, and of benefiting his young friends more than they were aware of: that the gratitude of all good men, and of the young people whom he had so much benefited, would follow him through life; and ‘when gray hairs should his temples adorn’ he could look back with pleasure upon the winter of 1843, when he was engaged in promoting the cause of benevolence, and preparing his young friends for the glorious career which awaited them. He said that he stood before them with more embarrassment, than he would before kings, nobles and great men of the earth, for he knew the crimes of which they were guilty, and knew precisely how to address them; but his young friends, before whom he now stood, were guilty of none of these crimes, and he hardly knew what to say. He said he had never in his life seen such a large company of young people assembled together, pay such strict attention, listen with such profound silence and keep such good order as the assembly now before him. He praised their good conduct, and taught them how to behave in all places, explained to them their duty, and advised them to organize themselves into a society for the relief of the poor. As a commencement to their benevolent efforts, he offered a petition from an English brother by the name of Modesly, who was lame, and who wished them to build him a house that he might have a home among the Saints: he had gathered together a few materials for this purpose, but was unable to use them; and, relying upon the active benevolence of the young people of Nauvoo, he sends in his petition that you may act upon it as you deem proper. He advised them to choose a committee to collect funds for this purpose, and perform this charitable work as soon as the weather became suitable. He gave them much good advice, to guide their conduct through life and prepare them for a glorious eternity.
“He said he was very much pleased with the course Elder Kimball had taken, and hoped he would continue his meetings and that the young people would follow his teachings. A meeting was appointed for the young men to take these things into consideration: but owing to the appointment not being generally circulated, many young gentlemen were not present. The meeting was however called to order; Wm. Cutler was chosen president, and Marcellus L. Bates clerk, Andrew Cahoon, C. V. Spencer and Stephen Perry were appointed as a committee to draft a constitution for the government of the society. After hearing several speeches the meeting adjourned to the evening of the 28th of March.
“At the next public meeting we were addressed by Elders Kimball and Roundy, and as usual, received much good instruction. Elder Kimball advised us to choose our wisest young men as officers of the society, and appoint a committee to wait upon the young ladies, as well as gentlemen, and obtain their subscription; for, said he, ‘they are as full of benevolence, and as ready to assist in relieving the poor, as are the young gentlemen.’ He also advised that no one be excluded from the society, of whatever sect or denomination he might be; but give everyone an opportunity of doing all the good in their power. On this evening the storm was raging tremendously, and the cold north wind was blowing in a most searching manner; yet, contrary to the expectations of everyone, the house was almost filled, not only with young men and boys, but with the tender, lovely and beautiful females of our city. They seemed determined to brave every extremity of the weather, rather than be absent from the place where they received such good instructions.
“This showed the good effects which had already been produced by these meetings, and cheered on the spirits of him who had just commenced them, and had since been their chief promoter. Instead of the young people spending their evenings at parties, balls, etc., they would now leave all, and attend to their meetings. Instead of hearing about this party and that party, this dance and that dance, in different parts of the city, their name was scarcely mentioned, and the Young People’s Meetings became the chief topic of conversation.
“Pursuant to adjournment, the young men convened together on the 21st of March. The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved, and the same officers appointed to preside as on the former evening. The report of the committee was then called for, which was as follows:
‘“Whereas, the young gentlemen and ladies, citizens of the city of Nauvoo, are desirous of aiding and ameliorating the condition of the poor and of carrying out the principles of charity and benevolence, as taught in the holy scriptures, thereof be it,
“‘Resolved that we form ourselves into a society to be styled the “Young Gentlemen and Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo,” and that we be governed by the following articles, to wit:
‘“1st. These shall annually be elected by the society, on the last Tuesday in March, a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
‘“2nd. It shall be the duty of the president to preside over all meetings of the society.
‘“3d. It shall be the duty of the vice president to preside over all meetings in the absence of the president.
“‘It shall be the duty of the treasurer to receive all funds of the society, and to keep a correct record of all the receipts and disbursements, also from whom received, and to whose benefit appropriated, and make a report of the same, as often as required by the society.
‘“4th. It shall furthermore be the duty of the said treasurer, before entering into office, to give bonds to the amount of one thousand dollars to the society, for the faithful discharge of all duties incumbent upon him, which shall be lodged in the hands of the trustee in trust.
‘“5th. It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep a record of all the proceedings of the society.
‘“6th. There shall annually be chosen a committee of vigilance, consisting of five persons, whose duties it shall be to search out the poor of our city, and make known to the society the wants of those whom they, in their judgment, shall consider most deserving of our assistance.
‘“7th. The society shall meet on the last Tuesday in each month, at 6 o’clock p.m.
‘“8th. A special meeting of the society can be called by a petition of twelve of the members, to the secretary, whose duty it shall be to give notice of the same, by posting up a written notice in at least three of the most public places in the city, at least three days previous to said meeting.
‘“9th. This constitution shall be lodged in the hands of the secretary; whose duty it shall be to present it at each meeting of the society, and receive the names of all persons wishing to become members, under thirty years of age, who can sustain a good moral character, and who are willing to support this constitution.
‘“10th. Any person being a member of this society, and being found guilty of any disorderly conduct, or refusing to comply with the rules of the society, can be expelled at any regular meeting of the same, by a vote of the majority of the members present.
“‘11th. in the event of a removal, by death, or prolonged absence of either of the officers, it shall be the prerogative of the society to appoint another in his stead.
‘“12th. This constitution shall be subject to an amendment at any regular meeting of the society, by the voice of two-thirds of the members present.’
“This report was unanimously adopted, and the meeting then proceeded to choose their officers. William Walker was chosen president, William Cutler, vice president; Lorin Walker, treasurer, and James M. Monroe, secretary. Stephen Perry, Marcellus L. Bates, R. A. Aired, William H. Kimball, and Garret Ivans were appointed as a committee of vigilance. After some discussion the meeting adjourned until the next Tuesday evening.
“At the next public meeting, the large and crowded assembly were addressed at considerable length, by Elders Jedediah M. Grant, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. The addresses were very interesting and highly instructive, as the breathless silence and deep attention of the audience attested.
“This is, in short, a history of this society, which bids fair to be one of the most useful and benevolent societies in the union. Throughout all of the meetings, the profound silence and the best of order was kept up continually. If the youth throughout our land would follow this good example and form themselves into such societies, there would be much less sin, iniquity, misery and degradation among the young people than there is at the present day; there would not be as many suffering poor, neither would there be as much immorality among the people. But on the contrary, peace, good order, happiness, cheerfulness and plenty would reign in the land, the Lord would look down from his holy habitation and smile upon us and bless us all.
“I. M. MONROE, Secy.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 7,
1 September 1882, p. 50
In looking over letters written by my parents, during the days of my childhood, I find recorded many a forgotten incident; some of which are pleasing, and others painful to dwell upon—bringing back the love and the joy, the pain and the sorrows, that were shared by them who have, long since, passed to a haven of rest, where there are no more tears, nor anguish and where the tears of death can never come.
One reminiscence serves to revive another, and among other incidents is the following which I will relate, with the hope that it may prove beneficial to my young sisters, as it came very near ending my earthly existence. I believe it was in the early part of March in 1842; at all events my father and mother had gone down to Quincy and left a young woman with us, to take charge of matters and things while they were gone. Before they returned my eldest brother and myself were invited to attend an evening party in the neighborhood where we first settled, when the place was called Commerce. Laying off my winter clothing I put on a lawn dress and cotton stockings, and thin slippers in place of boots, never giving a thought that it could hurt me. I was wrapped in a good shawl but as we drove in an open carriage, the cold bleak wind pierced through to my vitals, and the consequence was that I was thrown into what was considered a quick consumption, from which there was but little hope of my recovery, though I was kept in ignorance of my true condition until after the danger was over. I was not sick in bed, but I looked like a walking ghost, and it took but a few steps to exhaust what little strength I had. No pains were spared and nothing that affection could prompt, or faith and skill accomplish that was left untried, though I sometimes noticed their anxious and careworn looks. Early one morning in the fall of the year my father had William hitch up his horse and buggy and take me up to the temple, where he met us. He took me to the font under the temple into which the water had been pumped the day before and there baptized me for my health, which I regained more rapidly from that time.
He was in the habit of taking me out riding nearly every day, and soon after this he had occasion to go quite a distance out on the prairie to take Miss Lawrence home, who had been doing some sewing for us. This was Sarah Lawrence, who was sealed to the Prophet Joseph. Father took me with them, and though it looked a little cloudy when we started, he thought we could get back before it would rain; but we had barely got started for home when it commenced raining. Father put the umbrella over me, and told me to hold it closely over myself and not mind him. The thunder and lightning were terrific and the wind blew and the rain poured in perfect torrents, there was no house and not even a tree to seek shelter under. He was really frightened about me and drove as fast as it was possible for the horse to run. We soon reached Brother Winchester’s house, which was near the outskirts of the town, but not before our clothes were drenched through. Father gave me into the charge of Sister Winchester who gave me something warming, and I was soon clad in some dry clothing, as well as himself. We remained there till the storm was over and when we went home the roads were washed smooth and we found that a heavy freshet had passed over the lower part of the city.
My father’s prayers and faith prevailed in my behalf, for I never felt the least bad effect from the exposure, which was truly miraculous. This true story may prove, not only a warning but a faith promoter to our young friends, who may chance to read it.
There is another little incident which I had missed jotting down in the right place. It was near the first of June 1843, just previous to my father’s starting east, that the Prophet called and invited him to ride with him and William Clayton, his private clerk, as he was going around to give invitations to his friend, to take a pleasure trip with him down to Quincy, in the little “Nauvoo” boat which, previous to its being purchased, was called “Maid of Iowa.” I was also invited to go along. As we drove up the river a steamer was just landing, and a number of strange gentlemen came ashore, who seemed to have quite a curiosity to see the Prophet. He got out, and in his warm and genial way, gave each of them a cordial shake of the hand. As the carriage was about starting away, one of them came up and, after being introduced by President Smith, requested the privilege of riding. After going a few rods the carriage was stopped for him to get out. He wished to have it to say that he had rode with Joseph Smith, whom they styled the “American Mahomet.”
Our babe being very sick prevented my parents from going and I went with my brother. It was a lovely June morning, and animated with the lovely airs, played by William Pitt’s Brass Band, every heart was made glad, and everything looked bright and hopeful for the excursionists, as we started on the little steamer bound for Quincy.
We had a most enjoyable trip down, took dinner, with others, at the house of the widow of Dr. F. G. Williams and his son Ezra, who were old Kirtland friends. Joseph and his wife Emma, and a score of his old, as well as young, friends were made welcome by others in that city. But on our return trip a heavy thunder storm came up, and Judge Elias Higbee being taken very ill we were obliged to stop over night at Keokirk. The cabin was small and the judge being so sick the majority stayed on deck, where we sat all night; umbrellas being our only protection from the beating storm. The heat had been very excessive, and being thinly clad, many were made sick, and I was among that number. Judge Higbee continued to grow worse, and only lived a few days after his return home.
The Prophet, who was noted for his tender sympathies towards the afflicted, could not rest until he went around and informed himself of the condition of each one who had accompanied him to Quincy, and offer advice and some he administered to. The morning of the second day after our return, he called at our house. He recommended some medicine to be given me that night, and then turning to me said: “Tomorrow morning you take for your breakfast only a cup of coffee and a piece of dry bread, and you shall be well.” His counsel was strictly adhered to, and the result was precisely as he had predicted.
Before leaving us to go east my father gave to his children (six in number) their patriarchal blessing, brother William Clayton acting as scribe. Father was very anxious that mother should go with him and spend a little time with their relatives; but she could hardly make up her mind to leave home. She accompanied him as far as Quincy. He wrote three or four letters while on his way to Pittsburg, and a few extracts from their correspondence may be of interest to others beside myself. The following was written by my mother, and directed to Philadelphia, as he was to have been there, but unexpectedly he was detained in Pittsburg. This was dated “June 27th, 1843.
“My dear companion:—I received your precious letter, and parcel sent by Brother Smith. * * Gladly do I retire from the busy cares of life to spend a few moments in talking to you in this silent way. * * If I could but see you for a few moments, how much easier I could unbosom my feelings, but yet I am thankful that we have this privilege of conveying our thoughts to each other. I have read your letter over and over, and my eyes have been almost blinded with tears—the feelings expressed therein are worth more to me than worlds would be without them; for nothing could make me happy without your favor. It is one week last Sunday since I closed a letter to you. Brother Brigham then expected to start the next day. * * There are many changing scenes * * one moment our bosoms may beat high with anticipation, and the next be thrown into confusion. At present there is great excitement in the city. Brigham told me this morning that he did not much expect to go; said Joseph had sent word to him not to go any way until he saw him. I am thankful that you got away before the fuss. I feel as though you were more safe than you would be here. Oh that I could be with you! I sometimes feel as though I had been foolish and would never let another such an opportunity pass without going with you. * I should not wish to go, unless I could go with you clear to the seashore; but I need not talk about it now, for there is no telling where our lot will be cast next, things look rather gloomy here at present, but I believe good will come out of evil. I will not attempt to tell you about Joseph’s arrest, as Brother Hadlock, the bearer of this letter, can tell you all about it. *
“Since writing the above, I have had a visit from brother Parley P. Pratt and his wife. They are truly converted. It appears that Joseph has taught him the principle and told him his privilege, and even appointed one (a wife for him.) * * She has been to me for counsel. I told her I did not wish to advise in such matters. Sister Pratt told me that she had been railing against these things until within a few days past, she said the Lord had shown her that it was all right, and wants Parley to go ahead, says she will do all in her power to help him. * * They asked me many questions on principle. I told them I did not know much, I’d rather they would go to those that had authority to teach. Parley said he and Joseph were interrupted before he got what instruction he had wanted, and now he did not know when he should have an opportunity. * I told him that these were sacred things, and he had better not make a move until he got more instruction. * * Sarah Noon is here and sends her love to you. My daily prayer is that you may finish your mission with honor, and be returned to our embraces. * * I think you had better destroy this as soon as you can after reading it. I should not dare to send it by mail, but I trust it will go safe. If Brother Brigham should go I will write again by him. I am as ever, “Your affectionate wife.
This is another proof that the Prophet Joseph revealed the plural wife system.
The following I gather from the second letter written by my father from Pittsburg. The first was written to me, which has been published. This one was to my mother, and was dated July 15th. He wrote that he and brethren had been there a fortnight, waiting for President B. Young, who they were looking anxiously for. He continued to suffer much from his lungs, in consequence of the smoke from burning coal in that place; after having a very severe attack of influenza and cholera-morbus, which had reduced him so low that he was hardly able to sit up, and could only write a few lines at a time. He wrote, “The Saints have been very good and kind. The people here are mostly Dutch and Irish; but very few have come out to hear us preach, as Elder Page has whipt the sects so, in his preaching, they will not come out to hear. I do wish the elders would stop it and take a mild course, and preach the gospel as they have been commanded of the Lord, and advised by Brother Joseph and the Twelve. * I shall leave next week if Brigham comes. I want to go ahead and do what we can in order to get through before cold weather comes on. * * I have heard Brother Joseph is again clear from his enemies. I wish they could let him alone. * *
“It seems sometimes as though I could not be absent from my friends and those I so dearly love, but this will not do. I must labor for my Father in order that he may provide a home not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens. * For this I am willing to suffer privation, and to wear myself out, and to lay down my life, should it be necessary to do so. My mind has been very fruitful in the things of God, most of the time since I left you in Quincy, till I was taken sick. My whole soul is bound up in the cause of Christ, and my prayer is daily that I may be a savior of men and a comfort to the human family; but I see, when I have done the best I can, that I am a poor imperfect creature. I wish that I had more wisdom, more light, more patience and more religion, and everything that is good and calculated to make my friends happy, both in time and in eternity. * O, that little babe, kiss him for me, and the rest of our dear children, and tell them to write me how they get along. * I want you to read this to Sarah and Sister Billings, who I hold as one of my bosom friends. A friend in these days is more precious than gold, and I esteem her as a mother in Israel, and she has my prayers and blessing. We are in a critical place but be of good cheer, my dear friends, for I esteem you as such in every sense of the word, and may the Lord bless you with peace forever and ever, amen.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 8,
15 September 1882, pp. 57–58
The scenes in Nauvoo during the summer of 1843 were of an exciting nature, and continued on with but little cessation till the Prophet and Patriarch were murdered, in a boasted land of religious liberty, and their people forced by mob-law to seek safety among savages.
I remember the morning that Joseph and family left the city to visit his sister-in-law near Dixon, in Lee County, he called in as he was passing, to bid us good-bye, and the first news that we heard was the unlawful arrest made by Missourians, intending to drag him off into that state, but their brutal conduct roused the indignation of the people at Dixon, and by a writ of habeas corpus, served by his friends, he was placed under the arm of the law. The news spread so rapidly, that a company of horsemen, numbering 175, started the same evening under the command of Generals Wm. Law and Charles C. Rich. The officers from Missouri had laid their plans to kidnap Joseph while on the journey, but his brethren guarded him too closely, and they arrived home in safety June 30th, where they were met on the outskirts by a great multitude of the Saints, who, with Wm. Pitts Brass Band, and loud cheers and firing of artillery, escorted him to the mansion.
A meeting had been previously appointed at 5 o’clock the same day, in the grove west of the temple, where he delivered a speech, which can be duly appreciated at this present time.
“I meet you with a heart full of gratitude to Almighty God, and I presume you all feel the same. I hardly know how to express my feelings. I feel as strong as a giant. I pulled sticks with the men coming along, and I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up. And I continued to pull, mentally, until I pulled Missouri to Nauvoo. * * * It is not so much my object to tell my afflictions, and trials, and troubles, as to speak of the writ of habeas corpus, so that the minds of all may be corrected. It has been asserted by the great and wise men, lawyers, and others, that our municipal powers and legal tribunals are not to be sanctioned by the authorities of the state; and accordingly they want to make it lawful to drag away innocent men from their families and friends, and have them put to death by ungodly men for their religion. Relative to our city charter, courts, rights of habeas corpus, etc., I wish you to know and publish that we have all power; and if any man from this time forth says anything to the contrary, cast it into his teeth.
“There is a secret in this. If there is not power in our charter and courts, then there is not power in the state of Illinois, nor in the Congress or Constitution of the United States; for the United States gives unto Illinois her constitution or charter, and Illinois gave unto Nauvoo her charter, ceding unto us our vested rights, which she has no right nor power to take from us. All the power there was in Illinois she gave to Nauvoo. I want you to hear and learn, O, Israel, this day, what is for the happiness and peace of this city and people. If our enemies are determined to oppress us and deprive us of our constitutional rights and privileges as they have done, and if the authorities that are on the earth will not sustain us in our rights, nor give us that protection which the laws and Constitution of the United States, and of this state, guaranteed to us; then we will claim them from a higher power—from heaven—yea, from God Almighty. Before I will bear this unhallowed persecution any longer, before I will be dragged away again, among my enemies for trial, I will spill the last drop of blood in my veins. To bear it any longer would be a sin.
“It did my soul good to see your feelings and love manifested towards me. I thank God that I have the honor to lead so virtuous and honest a people; to be your leader and lawyer, as was Moses to the children of Israel. Hosannah to Almighty God, who has delivered us thus from out of the seven troubles. I commend you to his grace, and may the blessings of heaven rest upon you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
He was proven to be innocent and was once more freed from the Missourians; but they were determined not to give up, and pretended that the authorities of Nauvoo had rescued a prisoner from justice, but confident that his friends would resist every attempt on their part to arrest him, Gov. Reynolds, of Missouri, applied to Gov. Ford, of Illinois, requesting him to compel our people to deliver up the Prophet, by calling out a force of militia for this purpose, which request Gov. Ford politely refused to grant.
Our city was occasionally visited by Lamanites and a deputation of Pottawatamie chiefs were in the city waiting to see Joseph when he returned from Dixon, and as soon as consistent after the trial was over he received them.
After being assured that all present were friends to Joseph, their orator arose and said: (it being interpreted;) “We as a people have long been distressed and oppressed. We have been driven from our lands many times. We have been wasted away by wars, until there are but few of us left. The white man has hated us and shed our blood, until it has appeared as though there would soon be no Indian left. We have talked with the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit has talked with us. We have asked the Great Spirit to save us and let us live, and the Great Spirit has told us that he has raised up a great Prophet chief, and friend, who would do us great good and tell us what to do; and the Great Spirit has told us that you are the man (pointing to the Prophet). We have now come a great way to see you and hear your words, and to have you tell us what to do. Our horses have become poor traveling, and we are hungry. We will now wait and hear your words.”
Joseph was considerably affected, so much so that he wept. He said in return: “I have heard your words. They are true! The Great Spirit has told you the truth. I am your friend and brother, and I wish to do you good. Your fathers were once a great people. They worshiped the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit did them good. He was their friend, but they left the Great Spirit and would not hear his words nor keep them. The Great Spirit left them, and they began to kill one another, and they have been poor and afflicted until now.
“The Great Spirit has given me a book, and told me that you will soon be blessed again. The Great Spirit will soon begin to talk with you and your children.”
Raising the Book of Mormon, he said, “This is the book which your fathers made. I wrote upon it. This tells me what you will have to do. I now want you to begin to pray to the Great Spirit. I want you to make peace with one another, and do not kill white men; it is not good, but ask the Great Spirit for what you want. And it will not be long before the Great Spirit will bless you, and you will cultivate the earth, and build good houses like white men. We will give you something to eat and to take home with you.”
The Prophet had an ox killed for them, and some horses were also prepared for them.
They remembered the kindness of Joseph and his people, and when driven from our homes they made us welcome upon their land, where we were obliged to make our Winter Quarters.
We have certainly seen the fulfilment of the Prophet’s words concerning the red man, cultivating the earth and building houses, as well as other predictions, and are satisfied that all will be fulfilled.
The following is from an address delivered by the Prophet, at the grove, on Sunday, July 8th, 1844.
“The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare that before heaven, that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination, for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination that may be unpopular and too weak to defend itself.
“It is the love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. Love of liberty was diffused into my soul by my grandfathers, while they dandled me on their knees. One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come whence it may. If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.”
On the following Sabbath he preached, and I presume that hundreds are still living who will recollect these incidents.
He said: “Let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven, or descend to hell; we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it. Where this people are, there is good society. What do we care where we are, if the society be good?”
At another time he said, “I defy all the world to destroy the work of God; and I prophesy they never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die. * * * I proclaim in the name of the Lord God Almighty, that I will fellowship nothing in the Church but virtue, integrity and uprightness.”
That same spirit which governed the Prophet and his people then, controls and keeps them together today; and let our enemies continue to persecute and threaten as they may, they cannot hinder freedom of thought, nor prevent our making for ourselves a paradise on earth, nor from securing our passport to heaven; no matter where our lot may be cast, we can all make one for ourselves, and as Joseph said, “defy all the world to help it” or “to destroy the work of God,” or any of his servants until their “work is accomplished,” then they, like Joseph, will be “ready to die.”
The Missourians, with all their cruelties and whippings, could not crush out nor subdue that spirit, nor make a “Mormon” feel that he was conquered, and this was what made them so angry.
Our circumstances, since then, have reversed; through the goodness of our Heavenly Father we have gained a foothold in these mountains, and can now sit “under our own vine and fig tree”; and shall “hold the fort,” God helping us.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 9,
1 October 1882, pp. 70–71
One member of our household I have omitted to mention, a young lady (a native of the East Indies) who obeyed the gospel in England, and emigrated with a company of Saints to Nauvoo. Her mother was an East India lady of rank and her father a distinguished English officer. Her name was Eliza Monroe—an only child, who had been accustomed to having wealth and slaves at her command, until after she had reached her teens, and her mother was taken from her by death, when her father returned to England, taking her with him, and in a few years married a proud English lady. Eliza was what might be called one of nature’s noble ladies; she was a brunette, slender and full of grace and refinement, with none of the proud and haughty airs of an aristocrat, which is assumed by so many whom dame Fortune has raised from the lower ranks, as if afraid of not being recognized as such, but which is a positive and unmistakable sign of ignorance and arrogance. She was never happy with her stepmother; their natures and customs were so opposite to each other; there was no sympathy between them. She was constantly criticised as well as reproved for being too condescending to inferiors, and too familiar with the servants, because she would go among them and treat them with courtesy, as she had been accustomed to do in her native land. When her ears were saluted with the everlasting gospel she received and obeyed its mandates, and she had no misgivings nor regrets at leaving her home in England, and following the Saints to America. She was poor and penniless, and had no knowledge of any kind of housework, and feeling her inability to pay her way, she was unwilling to sit idle, and would ask the privilege of helping about the house; but her help was only a hindrance, and father seeing how she felt, bethought himself of his history, which he asked her to copy. This pleased her, as she could write a fine hand, besides it being an agreeable employment. He admired her about the house, because she was so quiet and ladylike, and spoke of it repeatedly—that he would not know of her presence if he did not see her, a compliment seldom paid to a lady. I still have a neck-ribbon which she presented me, made by the natives, from the bark of a tree in India which they call a silk tree. After a little time she took a school of young ladies, near my own age and taught during the summer; when she was unfortunate enough to marry a shiftless young man, who came from England, and was incapable of providing for her. Soon after he denied the faith, and in the time of our trouble, left for St. Louis. While stopping at Winter Quarters, some of the brethren being sent down to St. Louis to purchase goods, she wrote and sent by them some little tokens of remembrance to my mother and myself. She was still strong in the faith but in poor circumstances.
Among a package of my father’s papers lately found, was the following letter of commendation, received from the Prophet, and signed by his hand June 1843, which will explain the object of his mission East.
“To all Saints and honorable men of the earth greeting: “Dear brethren and friends: I, Joseph Smith a servant of the Lord, and trustee-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby certify that the bearer hereof, Heber C. Kimball, an elder and one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has deposited with me his bond and security, to my full satisfaction, according to the resolution of the conference held in this city, on the 6th day of April last. He therefore is recommended to all Saints and honorable people, as a legal agent to collect funds for the purpose of building the Nauvoo House, and temple of the Lord, confident that he will honor this high trust, as well as ardently fulfil his commission as a messenger of peace and salvation, as one of the Lord’s noblemen—I can fervently say, may the Lord clear his way before him, and bless him, and bless those that obey his teachings, whenever there are ears to hear and hearts to feel.
“He is in the language of the Hebrews (Haura-ang-yeesh-rau-ale). The friend of Israel, and worthy to be received and entertained as a man of God: Yea, he has, as had the ancient apostles (O logos o kalos) the good word, even the good word that leadeth unto eternal life. Laus Deus. Praise God. Wherefore, brethren! and friends, while you have the assurance of the integrity, fidelity, and ability of this servant of the living God, trusting that your hearts and energies will be enlivened, and deeply engaged in the building of these houses, directed by revelation for the salvation of all Saints: and that you will not rest where you are, until all things are prepared before you, and you are gathered home with the rest of Israel, to meet your God,—I feel strong in the belief, and have a growing expectation, that you will not withhold any means in your power that can be used to accomplish this glorious work. Finally as one that greatly desires the salvation of man, let me remind you all to strive with a godly zeal, for virtue, holiness and the commandments of the Lord. Be good, be wise, be just, be liberal; and above all be charitable always, abounding in good works. And may health, peace and the love of God our Father, and the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord be and abide with you all, is the sincere prayer of your devoted brother and friend in the everlasting gospel,
“City of Nauvoo, June 1st. 1843.” (The Hebrew I have omitted giving only the interpretation.) The following I gathered from my father’s journal: “Pittsburg, July 28th, 1843. Last evening Elders B. Young, George A. Smith and W. Woodruff, came to our meeting as Elder Page was preaching. I must say that I was glad to see them, as Elder O. Pratt and myself have been in this city nearly four weeks waiting for them. I thank my Father in heaven that I have the privilege of hearing from my dear brothers and sisters and family; received three letters, one from my wife, one from my son William, and one from Helen. How precious to hear from my dear family whom I love and prize above all things here on earth, but I leave all for Christ’s sake and the gospel.”
During the summer we had (as was usual) much sickness in the city. My mother and babe, and all the rest of us were sick in the early part of the season. From a letter received from my father, dated Philadelphia Aug. 13th, I gather the following.
“On the 10th I went to the post office, and found a letter, which gave me joy mixed with sorrow, because you have been sick, and you are so poor; O that I had you with me, to soothe your task and make your burdens lighter. Your letter was written on the 19th of July. You said that little babe had been sick and all the rest of the children; I am sorry, but hope they are all well now. O, my God, bless them and let their lives be precious in thy sight, is my prayer all the day long; and my desire is to make all happy and to have a pure heart before God, but I am frail and a poor weak man, and I need your prayers. I know that I have them and you are all remembered when I bow before my Father. * * * *”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 10,
15 October 1882, p. 74
I have not got over the influenza yet. It has injured my memory, but it is coming back to me. * * * I seem to have favor in the eyes of the people, and I hope before my Father in Heaven. It is my meat and my drink to do his will. * * * * I hope soon to get through with the business on hand.”
From another letter dated “New York, Sept. 3d.” We learned that they had spent nearly two weeks—Father had been very sick, and was quite feeble, and had lost much flesh. He said, “We intend to leave on the morrow, if the Lord will, for Boston. Our conference will be held there on Saturday and Sunday—when that is over, I shall make my way home as soon as possible. I shall go down through the state to see our friends and kindred. I suppose this will please you, my dear wife, but it will be no pleasure for me to go through that country without you; for you and my dear children circumscribe all other things on earth. The more I see of the world, the less I care for it. It is now more than a month since I have had a line from you. I have written once in eight or ten days since I left you; but you have more to press your dear body and mind, and I know it is a task to get along with your work, and to see to the children—how I would prize it to be with you to help bear your burdens. I will come as soon as possible, so keep up good courage. * * * *
“I received a letter from Wm. Murray since I came here—said he should be in Buffalo on the 1st day of Sept; on his way to Nauvoo—They desired me to meet them there, for they had a seat reserved for me, but I expect they will get there before I do. If so tell William he may build on that lot by Sister Pitkins, if he has a mind to and it will all be right.”
Mother received another letter fom him written at Boston on the 23d, of Sept. He wrote, “I have received your kind letter written on the first of August. We left New York on the 4th. On the 6th, Elder B. Young and myself, went to Salem, and on the 18th returned to Boston—held our conference on the 19th. Eight of the Twelve were present. What misery there is in this world, I think we are the best off of any others that I have seen in my travels, I long to see you and the children. I hold you precious in the sight of God, but I can leave you for the gospel’s sake, for my soul is bound up in the cause of Christ. I wish to seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, for I want all things added to me here in this world, so that I can be crowned in the fulness of glory in the celestial world. These I know are your feelings, for you do not wish me to come behind in anything that will exalt us in the kingdom of heaven. I feel as though we should be united in whatever we may be lead to do. You have been proven and tested, for you have been through the fire. I feel that we are one. I know of none who are more so than Heber and Vilate.
“I hope Sarah is feeling well, and that I shall find you all well in body and in spirit. I did think that I would go and see your kindred, but I have changed my mind, and shall soon return to my family and my brethren and sisters, whom I love with my whole heart.
“I have been blessed in temporal things since I came here to Boston—have sold a piece of land; have got some cash for the Nauvoo House, and a little for the temple. It is hard times to do much. The Saints are coming up themselves and will fetch their money. Elder George A. Smith and myself intend to leave here tomorrow for New York, if the Lord will, on my way home, will have to stop there one or two days, then a few days in Philadelphia and Pittsburg, and also in Cincinnatti. I will now bid you adieu for a little season.”
They arrived home in safety in the latter part of October, finding us all well. In the meantime my Uncle William Murray had arrived with his family at Nauvoo; which was a great source of joy to both brother and sister, whose happiness for a time seemed complete. He was the only one that ever received the gospel on either side, and when the welcome tidings came, that he had listened to the sound of the gospel and obeyed it, my mother could hardly believe it, and was almost overcome with joy. Like every true Saint, the moment he received the true gospel, he could not content himself to remain with unbelievers. The people of God and those of the world are in opposition to each other. Christ has no fellowship with Belial.
How gross is the darkness that covers the minds of the people who are fighting against the principles of salvation. No one actuated by the Spirit of God would do this or speak against his servants, but would be attended by the Holy Ghost, which would give them faith, and reveal to them the power of God unto salvation; but which without faith, is impossible. We read that “the just shall live by faith,” and that “faith without works is dead.” We can understand the things of God only by the Spirit and power of God. The revelations of Joseph Smith can never save others, unless they receive revelation from heaven, of their truth, and they must seek for it in order to obtain it. Those who are too careless and slothful to read or to “search and believe in me, not in man,” as Jesus said for, “who leans on him leans on a broken reed,” will be left as many others have to stumble even at noonday. The sorrows and privations and all the persecutions endured by the Saints of God are light, when compared with the punishment of a guilty conscience and this is the punishment that awaits, not only those who persecute his people, but the ones who are too indolent to make inquiries for themselves, or to forego the momentary and fleeting pleasures of today, in the vain hope of gaining a little worldly pomp and praise. Here, we are as strangers in a strange land, and those who are too proud or obstinate to look up and read the directions so plainly written upon the guide board, which has been set by a Father’s loving hand, that his children may not miss the track and be lost in the darkness; or refuse to listen to his servants who are crying, “Come out of her my people, and be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues,” because He in his wisdom has chosen the meek of the earth who will do his bidding, being poor and unpopular in the world, renounce them as imposters, persecute and destroy them, will see their mistake when too late to retrace their steps and will have to pass through another probation.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 11,
1 November 1882, p. 82
Among the many pleasing incidents within my recollection, was the sight of a large flatboat loaded with English Saints, who were obliged to leave the steamer at Keokuck, in consequence of low water. They were singing the sweet songs of Zion, as they came up the river at the close of the day, and landed near the Prophet’s house, where stood scores of the Saints; also many outsiders had gathered there, and Joseph too, who welcomed them to Zion.
At another time the “Maid of Iowa,” in command of Capt. Dan Jones, brought a company of two hundred and fifty Saints from New Orleans, who, after unlooked for circumstances, causing a tedious journey of five weeks, arrived safely at Nauvoo, where Joseph and hundreds of the Saints were on the shore waiting to greet them with a warm and hearty welcome. A short but interesting account of their eventful voyage was given by Sister Priscilla M. Staines, in the “Women of Mormondom.” She was one of the passengers and happened to be an instrument in the hands of Providence to give the alarm of fire, or the boat would soon have been in flames. This was at Memphis, Tenn. Some villain placed a half consumed cigar under a straw mattress, and other bedding that had been laid out of the ladies cabin to air.
They were mobbed and insulted at nearly every place where they stopped, by the citizens along the river. They were not persecuted for polygamy—it was not upon those grounds that mobs collected and threw “stones through the cabin windows, smashing the glass and sash, and jeopardizing the lives of the passengers,” for they had not heard of polygamy being practised by the “Mormons,” but they were treated more barbarously than foreign emigrants are treated today. So we know that polygamy is only an excuse, and a most flimsy one too. This was their first experience in America, our boasted land of liberty—a refuge and home for the oppressed of all nations. Mobbing peaceful emigrants for nothing else, only that they were “Mormons.”
During the winter of 1843, there were plenty of parties and balls, and many were held at the Mansion. The last one that I attended there that winter, was on Christmas Eve. Some of the young gentlemen got up a series of dancing parties, to be held at the Mansion once a week. My brother William put his name down before asking father’s permission, and when questioned about it made him believe that he must pay the money for himself and lady, whether he went or not, and that he could not honorably withdraw from it. He carried the day, but I had to stay at home, as my father had been warned by the Prophet to keep his daughter away from there, because of the blacklegs and certain ones of questionable character who attended there. His wife Emma had become the ruling spirit, and money had become her God. I did not betray William, but I felt quite sore over it, and thought it a very unkind act in father to allow him to go and enjoy the dance unrestrained with others of my companions, and fetter me down, for no girl loved dancing better than I did, and I really felt that it was too much to bear. It made the dull school still more dull, and like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself a much abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur. I imagined that my happiness was all over, and brooded over the sad memories of sweet departed joys and all manner of future woes, which (by the by) were of short duration, my bump of hope being too large to admit of my remaining long under the clouds; besides my father was very kind and indulgent in other ways, and always took me with him, when mother could not go, and it was not a very long time before I became satisfied that I was blessed in being under the control of so good and wise a parent, who had taken counsel and thus saved me from evils, which some others in their youth and inexperience, were exposed to, though they thought no evil. Yet the busy tongue of scandal did not spare them.
A moral may be drawn from this truthful story. “Children obey thy parents,” etc. And also, “Have regard to thy name; for that shall continue with you above a thousand great treasures of gold.” “A good life hath but few days; but a good name endureth forever.”
The first New Year’s Eve after the Prophet moved into the Mansion, our choir, under the leadership of Stephen Goddard, to which I became a member some time previous, gave them a serenade.
We met at our usual place of practice, on the hill near the temple, and although the night was unfavorable, being dark and rainy, we, nothing daunted, started out between twelve and one o’clock, we struck up and sang the New Year’s hymn. The inmates were highly gratified, and the Prophet came out and invited us to come in; but being late we declined. After singing one or two anthems he pronounced his blessing upon the orchestra and choir, which repaid the brethren and sisters for all their trouble.
William Cahoon, John Pack, Stephen Hale and wives, William Pitt, William Clayton, Jacob Hutchinson, James Standing and many more, too numerous to mention, were members of the choir, and most of the brethren belonged to William Pitt’s Brass Band. We enjoyed together many happy seasons, though of short duration.
Our music hall was built one block east of the temple, but was not finished till after the death of the Prophet. Previous to that we held an occasional concert in the Masonic hall, which, according to history, was considered “the most substantial and best finished Masonic temple in the western states.”
We were not wanting for amusements, even in the midst of some of the most trying scenes; the Latter-day Saints seldom drooped or pined for their “leeks and onions,” but adapted themselves to circumstances with an excellent grace.
Our first dramatic entertainments were given in the Nauvoo Masonic Hall—in the spring of 1844, under the direction of Thomas A. Lyne and George J. Adams—the latter claiming Heber C. Kimball as his father in the gospel, took up his abode with us whenever he came to our city; was there during the summer of 1843, at which time, my father being absent upon a mission, made it rather hard for my mother to get along, as I went to school and she was obliged to hire a woman to do the work, her own health being very poor and her baby sick, which he did not seem to realize as he never offered any recompense. In the spring of 1844, during the dramatic season, he with his wife and sister stayed with us, but my father was at home which made quite a difference. I was just at the age to enjoy such amusements, which made time pass very agreeably. Miss Adams was a fine young lady and very gifted as an actress, in fact was quite a star, though a new beginner like all the rest, with the exception of Lyne, he spent much of his time at our house, as they were old friends, and he was a “Mormon.” Mrs. Adams was a dignified and quite a distinguished looking woman, and made a fine appearance upon the stage, but she played only one night—took the part of the Countess in the “Orphan of Geneva,” and thought herself so disguised that no one would recognise her, but when she found that she was known she could not be prevailed upon to go on again, and as the play was to be repeated the next night, they were in a terrible dilemma, not knowing what to do as we had returned home, and it was then near midnight. One of them proposed my taking the part, (Adams or Lyne), and the women and all set in flattering and teasing me to take it. But I was a timid girl of fifteen and frightfully bashful, and the idea of taking so dignified a part was to my mind utterly absurd; having only been upon the stage in two plays, first as one of the virgins in “Pizarro” and another simple part, but all my excuses were useless and I was fairly pressed into service. Adams said encouragingly, “I’ll help you out,” and as Lyne was leaving he said, “Now study the part over good tonight, and then retire and sleep on it, and you’ll nearly know it in the morning”; which direction I followed, and having a quick memory was able to repeat every word at the rehearsal, but when before an audience I was so frightened that I remembered very little; my wits nearly deserted me, but Adams was true to his promise and by his readiness assisted me to recover from my confusion. Though he was never up in his own part, he was never at a loss for a substitute in every emergency, but which was anything but pleasing to those who depended upon him for their cue. He was a very good actor; and J. Hatch, a young Lawyer—uncle to Pres. Abram Hatch of Heber City, was also good as well as Amasa Lyman and W. H. Folsom, and others. But no part in “Pizarro” was better played than was the priest, by Brigham Young. There was some good acting done—some so lifelike, that at times nearly the whole audience would be affected to tears. Joseph did not try to hide his feelings, but was seen to weep a number of times. Among our best comedians was Hiram B. Clawson, who I think, was the youngest of the boys, that was forty years ago; and the scenes have been changing till but a few are now left who took part in the first dramatic entertainments held in our beautiful city in 1845.
On the 11th of May following, my brother Wm. H. and Mary Davenport, were joined in wedlock, by father at the house of Winsor P. Lyous, and on the 13th he brought her home to live with us.
On the 17th, a national convention was held, Joseph being candidate for the presidency. A great deal of enthusiasm was manifested by the people, which was not confined to our cities, but according to history, “twenty-seven states were represented.” My father and others of the apostles were appointed to go east to electioneer for General Joseph Smith.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 12,
15 November 1882, p. 90
By some it may be thought an excess of sentiment in me to publish extracts from so many of my parents’ letters, and I will here just say that I have not done so for the mere pleasure of rehearsing them, for I felt a delicacy in so doing, and had it not been for the urgent request of others, who expressed their pleasure in reading them, I should have ceased long since.
The correspondence from May 21st till June 30th, 1844, contains some interesting items, which will no doubt be read with unusual interest at this peculiar period of our history.
It was understood before my father left for the East, that my mother should accompany George J. Adams to Philadelphia, where she was to meet him, and that I should go, too, if sufficient means could be procured. We were to start by the 1st of July. My mother, William and myself accompanied father to the steamer, and remained on board till it started. When we parted he said to me, “Come with your ma if you can, but I beg you not to stand in the way of her coming but do all you can to help her off.” I had a great desire to go back and make a visit; besides, I wanted to see something of the world, and my feelings were sorely tried, as well as my weak faith; in fact, I was considerably disaffected, and like many of our youth in these valleys, I imagined that all was fair and beautiful without, and that there my days would be one round of pleasures; at all events, I was bound to go whenever my mother went. She was feeble in health and one or more of the little boys were sick, and withal there seemed an unusual gloom, or foreboding of something, they knew not what. The following I extract from a letter commenced at Legrand, Missouri. Father writes:
“Although I bade you farewell this morning, * * * no tongue could express my feelings. What a pleasure it would have been if I could have left you and the children well, and my heaven on earth in less confusion—for my home is my heaven here; but it was not so. How my heart beats with sorrow and pain; I feel as though it would melt within me. Every thread and fibre in my body feel it so keenly. It seems, sometimes, as though I could not endure the things that lie before me; but God is able to do all things for us, so hold on, my dear Vilate, for my sake and those little children that He has given us. O how I felt when I left them! Before I began this letter I left the boat and went on top of a mountain, and offered up a prayer to the Lord, that peace might be with us forever. * * *
“22d. We are at the mouth of the Missouri river. I feel very unwell this morning—did not get much sleep. I was conversing with a lawyer from Pittsburg till near twelve o’clock, and laid down on the table and took cold—the staterooms were all full when we got on. The lawyer with whom I conversed said he was confounded, and that I had knocked out all of his props, and he was almost persuaded to be a Christian—he should vote for Joseph Smith, anyhow. He said I was one of the strangest men that he had ever met. * * * Elders Wite, Miller, and Dr. Young delivered speeches on politics. It has been business times on board this boat, but all good natured. This morning we have taken the election, the different candidates for president: For Joseph Smith, four ladies and sixty-three gents; for Clay, six ladies and twenty-seven gents; for Van Buren, two ladies and thirteen gents; for Cass, one; for Birny, two; Johnson, none; Calhoun, none.
“There are one hundred and seventy passengers, seventeen cabin passengers. Mormonism is the topic this morning. I will be obliged to stop writing for confusion.
“23d. It was twelve o’clock when I got into bed last night. William Smith came on board before I was up. We have taken a boat bound for Pittsburg—the best on the river. If I could just look in and say good morning, and see that pleasant smile I so often get, and those little children I so dearly love, what a comfort it would be. I hope you will come with Elder Adams; start by the 1st of July, lest the water gets low. Remember me to Helen and Sarah Ann Whitney, and tell them to be good girls and cultivate union, and listen to counsel from the proper source—then they will get the victory.”
He wrote from Pittsburg, saying they arrived May 30. They had had much peace and good feeling, had preached four times between there and St. Louis, and conversed most of the time when awake upon religion and politics. When he left us he had but fifty cents in money, and he sent us things that cost nearly twelve dollars, by Mr. Halliday, a merchant of Nauvoo. He wrote in this letter: “While at Cincinnati I had eleven dollars given me, with which I bought the groceries, etc., which I sent you, so you see how good the Lord is to us all the day long. We held a meeting last night, Elder Smith and myself spoke. We leave here at two o’clock for Washington.”
He wrote William a letter, dated Washington, June 3d, saying: “We arrived in this city last evening just as the sun was setting. We stopped one night in Cincinnati. In the morning at eight o’clock held a conference, and left at ten. Those who were on board at Nauvoo came through with us to Pittsburg. They were very hard on us when we went on board, but after conversing with them became very friendly, and said if that was the religion we believed they would bid us Godspeed, for it was what they believed.
“We stopped one night at Pittsburg. Elder William Smith and myself preached that night. Next morning took steamer up the Monongohela seventy-two miles, then took coach to this place—were twelve days and a half coming. We put up at the National Hotel—the best house in the city. This is where the Prophet stopped when here. Elder Wite and myself went one mile east of the Capitol, to one Mr. Linsly’s, one of the richest men in Washington. His wife is a member of our church, and also one of his servants. The old gentleman took us through his vineyard and garden—has all kinds of grapes and fruit trees. He has between two and three millions of silk worms; it was a great sight. He is a friend to us and likes our doctrine. When we left they invited us to come and make our home with them while in the city. * * * Judge Douglas came in last evening and had a long chat with us; says he will do anything for us that we wish—will give us an introduction to several of the congressmen today. Says there is no prejudice towards us in this place of any account; all there is, is among the ignorant class. Elder Pratt left here one week ago, Elder Hyde has been gone some time. We feel well in mind. * * * We went to see Judge Douglas this morning; he was not well, so we returned. The only time to get an interview with these men is in the evening. * * *
“Now, my dear son, be tender with your mother, for she is a kind mother; be patient and mild, and use soft words. Also be kind to Helen and the little boys; be a father to them, and keep them out of the wet, and take good care of your own health. Tell Mary to do the same. I esteem her as my own daughter. Do not go hungry, nor in want, for I intend that my family shall have what they need for their comfort while I live. As we have only one life here, so let us do good and serve the Lord with pure hearts, and speak evil of no man. I have no fears but you will take good care of things. I want you and Helen to write me; tell her I shall write to her when I get time; I think much about her. It is now twelve o’clock, and we are going up to the Capitol.”
The following is from another letter, dated June 4th. Father says: “We went this morning to see Judge Sample—he is from Alton, Illinois. He appeared friendly while with him. There was another judge came in; said he, ‘Joe Smith has sent out fifty of his smartest men to preach his——doctrine, and to electioneer for him.’ Said he had heard some of them preach, and they were smart men. Judge Sample asked him if he had ever seen Joseph Smith. He answered he never had. ‘Judge, he is a smart man,’ said Sample; I have one of his “views,” which is very good.’ Said he, ‘These men are some of his (Smith’s) society.’ ‘Ah, indeed, are they? Will Smith get any votes in Illinois?’ Said Judge Sample, ‘They go strong in the West for him,’ * * It is all politics in the East, congress has spent three days on it; but it seems all stuff to me. I cannot take any pleasure in these things any more than I can in the religion of the sects.
“I feel humble and to cleave unto the Lord. I can bear testimony that He is good to me all the day long. I suffer less from fear than I have hitherto done. I feel different, and as though I had authority given me from God to speak as though I had been sent of God, and not as the scribes. After all, I suffer some before these great men; still they know nothing of God, all they know is about the politics of this world, and what is that? Why, it is like the sectarian religion, part true and part untrue; but a little more not true than true.”
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 13,
1 December 1882, p. 98
The following is from a letter written me by my father in fulfillment of promise:
“WASHINGTON, June 9, 1844. “MY DEAR DAUGHTER—I told you of the blessings that we have received from our Father which is in heaven, so be obedient to the counsel you have given to you from your dear father and mother, who seek your welfare both for time and eternity. There is no one that feels as we do for you. Prove yourself approved of God and man, as a true, undeviating friend through evil report as well as good, through poverty as well as riches. This has been the spirit I have endeavored to maintain since I have been a member in the Church of Christ. I want my children to be true and faithful in all things, and never swerve from the truth in any case. If you should be tempted, or have feelings in your heart, tell them to no one but your father and mother; if you do, you will be betrayed and exposed to your hurt. Remember, my dear child, what I tell you, for you will find that I tell you the truth in Christ and lie not. You are blessed, but you know it not. You have done that which will be for your everlasting good for this world and that which is to come. I will admit there is not much pleasure in this world. Our circumstances are such that I see no way for it at present. Congress will not do anything for us, no nothing; neither do I care whether they do or not; but we will tease them all the day long. They think they have got a great deal of power, and all of this world is theirs to give or retain. The devil thought he had all at his command when he wanted to hire Jesus to worship him. He had violated all rights or claims—so has Congress. We will go where we can find a home, and worship God in His own way, and enjoy our rights as free citizens; and this will not be long. Now, my daughter, I have spoken plainly to you, more so than I ever did before. Be wise, and you shall prosper in all things, and you shall lack for nothing that is good. Be true to the covenants that you have made, keep the company of those who are wise and keep close mouths. Solomon says, ‘A wise head keeps a close mouth.’ * * * Do not slight your friends, be kind, be merciful, be gentle, be sober, and show yourself approved of God and of your friends. Be kind to your dear mother, take burdens off from her shoulders; be mild and pleasant to all. This is the way to get the good will even of a dog, for every spirit will beget its own likeness.
“Now, Helen, let me tell you one thing that I want you to do; take one of my large blank books and commence your life back as far as you can, and when I write my general history I can put yours in with it. I want William to do the same. Do not forget this—then you can put all the letters that I write you in their proper places, to be handed down to our children for them to read. * * *
“It will be three weeks tomorrow since I left my sweet home. O sweet home! it is a heaven to me.
“The Capitol stands on an eminence, like our temple. This building is a great deal larger than our temple will be. The stone of which it is built is a little whiter color than that of the temple. It is surrounded with a large park, decorated with trees of all kinds and flowers, with several pools of pure water, with fish in them. It looks like a paradise in point of decoration. O that we had such a place! we will when we build up a sure place. I want to see our Prophet here in the chair of state—then we would come to see him.
“Elder Hyde came here on Saturday, and we held a meeting yesterday. Elder Wight and myself preached, and it left a good impression on their minds. I think we shall leave here tomorrow for Delaware, and hold a conference. If you can get the means, come with your mother, but do nothing to hinder her coming; you shall have your chance in turn. Be wise, and when you get this do not fail to write me and direct to the city of New York. Be a good girl; May the Lord bless you and your dear mother and brethren. As ever your affectionate father,
“HEBER C. KIMBALL.”
A letter commenced by my mother June 7, (the same day that father wrote the above,) describes the scenes that were transpiring in Nauvoo. She says:
“Nauvoo was never so lonesome since we lived here as it is now. I went to meeting last Sunday for the first time since conference. I should have turned and come home on foot if I had not been afraid it would make me sick. Neither Joseph, Hyrum, nor any of the Twelve were there, and you may be assured that I was glad when meeting was over. Brother Joseph Nobles is very kind to me; knowing that I am not able to walk, he has invited me to ride with his folks several times. Yesterday he took his wife and me down to Hibbard’s after cherries. He took us to see Sarah (my father’s wife), who has been quite sick. I urged her to come home with me, but she said she would rather wait till she felt better; I expect her this week.
“The weather continues cold and wet. Bishop Whitney called in today; said he’d been talking with Dr. Bernhisel—he thought the quorum had better meet and pray for the rain to be stayed, or we would all be sick.
“June 11th. Nauvoo was a scene of excitement last night. Some hundreds of the brethren turned out and burned the printing press of the opposite party. This was done by order of the city council. They had only published one paper (Nauvoo Expositor) which is considered a public nuisance. They have sworn vengeance, and no doubt they will have it.
“My Dear Husband.—Since I commenced this letter varied and exciting indeed have been the scenes in this city. I would have sent this to you before this time, but I have been thrown into such confusion I know not what to write. Nor is this all; the mails do not come regularly, having been stopped by high water or the flood of moboc-racy which pervades the country. I have received no letter by mail from you since you left. I know your anxiety to hear from us must be very great, as you will no doubt hear of our trouble by report. Nothing is to be heard of but mobs collecting on every side. The Laws and Fosters and most of the dissenting party, with their families, left here a day or two since. They are sworn to have Joseph and the city council, or to exterminate us all. Between three and four thousand brethren have been under arms here the past week, expecting every day the mob would come upon us. The brethren from the country are coming in to aid in the defense of our city. Brother Joseph sent a message to the governor, signifying if he and his staff would come into the city he would abide their decision; but instead of the governor coming here, he went to Carthage, and there walked arm in arm with Law and Foster, until we have reason to fear he has caught their spirit. He sent thirty men here day before yesterday to arrest Brother Joseph, with an abusive letter, saying, if thirty men cannot do the business thousands can, ordering the brethren who had been ordered out to defend the city against the mob to deliver up their arms to their men and then disperse. Yesterday morning (although it was Sunday) was a time of great excitement. Joseph had fled and left word for the brethren to hang on to their arms and defend themselves as best they could. Some were dreadfully tried in their faith to think Joseph should leave them in the hour of danger. Hundreds have left the city, most of the merchants on the hill have left. I have not felt frightened, neither has my heart sunk within me till yesterday, when I heard Joseph had sent word back for his family to follow him, and Brother Whitney’ s family were packing up, not knowing but they would have to go, as he is one of the city council. For a while I felt sad enough, but did not let anybody know it, neither did I shed any tears. I felt a confidence in the Lord that He would preserve us from the ravages of our enemies. We expected them here today by the thousands, but before night yesterday things put on a different aspect—Joseph returned and gave himself up for trial. He sent a messenger to Carthage to tell the governor he would meet him and his staff at the big mound at eight o’clock this morning, with all that the writ demanded. They have just passed here to meet the governor for that purpose. My heart said, Lord, bless those dear men and preserve them from those that thirst for their blood. What will be their fate the Lord only knows, but I trust He’ll spare them. The governor wrote that if they did not give themselves up, our city was suspended upon so many kegs of powder, and it needed only one spark to touch them off. If you were here you would be sure to be in their midst, which would increase my anxiety.
“Now, I must tell you the fluctuation of my mind about going to meet you. Brother Adams told me a week ago that he, having been detained so long here, had concluded to take his wife with him; said if Helen and I would go with them he would agree to take us to you; he had no money, but he was acquainted with the captains of the different boats, and could go to Cincinnati without money—there he could get what he wanted. He calculated then to be here last Friday and stay till tomorrow, when we were to start on the Ospry. I saw no prospect of going unless I took up with his offer. I asked counsel of Bishop Whitney and others; they all advised me to go, so I went to making ready with all possible speed. But it was only three days before I heard they were going to write for all the Twelve to come immediately home: I saw Joseph passing by, and went out and asked him if it was so. He said, yes; there was a prospect of trouble, and said you were wanted here, and you would want to be here. He also said you had promised to return immediately and fetch him some money. I felt so disappointed that I could not help shedding a few tears over it. Brother Willard Richards soon came along and told me to cheer up, that he did not apprehend any danger; said, ‘hold on a few days, we shall not write quite yet at any rate.’ So I took courage again, only to meet another disappointment. He called Friday and told me he had just dispatched a messenger with letters to all the Twelve to come immediately and fetch all the force with them that they could raise. This messenger was to take the first boat and go to St. Louis before he mailed them, as it is of no use to mail them here. I knew nothing to the contrary till Saturday evening, when Brother Adams told me that all was counteracted and they had concluded not to send for you, and said—’Perhaps we shall go yet.’ That is the last that I’ve seen of him. He preached here yesterday and started for home last evening. I understand he has been appointed for another mission. So I see no prospect of going east at present. * * I can only say, may the Lord God bless and preserve us all to meet again. I believe He will. The children all send love and good wishes to their dear father. Justin Johnson will take this over the river and mail it for me, so I will bid you farewell.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 14,
15 December 1882, pp. 105–6
The following is from my father’s last letter, which was written at Wilmington, Delaware, June 12th:
“I am at the house of Brother Sanders, who is very kind, also his family, and I feel free and at home here. We arrived yesterday at two o’clock—left Washington at six in the morning; stopped one hour at Baltimore. As for Congress, they have not got it in their hearts to do the first thing for us, because it is not popular. * * * But the Lord is our King, and He has all things in His hands; as this is the case, it is for Him to give us our inheritance, for Congress has violated all rights and claims to the earth, or anything that pertains to it. I must say I felt indignant some of the time while in Washington, to see their indifference towards us. There are some three or four who seemed to be friendly—I think merely to get our support; I will give their names: General Sample, of Alton, Judge Douglas and Mr. Wentworth, of Chicago—these three men belong to Illinois, we sent them. General Atchison and Hughes, from Missouri seem to be kind. Oh, the deception that we find in this world! Elder Wight and myself have presented a petition to get redress for our wrongs in Missouri, or for them to give us some land somewhere in the world, either in Texas, Arizona or Iowa. The bill had gone before the committee of public lands; it was thought by some of the members that it would go favorable. Do not think that they can restore what they have taken from us—that cannot be done in this world. * * *
“We shall leave here tomorrow for Philadelphia, from thence to Boston, as the conference will be on the 29th and 30th of July; then I shall return to New York. When you get to Philadelphia I can get word from you in one or two days and come to you. I spoke to the captain of the Osprey to see that you got onto a good boat. You will be treated kindly, for ladies are not insulted. If you come, tell William to be careful of the children, and keep them out of the wet, and see that they have plenty to eat. Tell him and Mary they must attend to prayers when you leave—they shall not lose anything by so doing, but shall have health and peace and the good things of the world. * * * I hope to dispose of my land, then I shall be able to bring them some clothes. Tell him to be prudent in all things, use those things that will be for their comfort. I hope to get a line from you soon, then I’ll know what your calculations are. I shall write no more at present—this I thought might reach there before you started. I shall write to the children now and then. Tell them to write often and direct to the city of New York. As ever your affectionate husband and father,
“HEBER C. KIMBALL.”
Preparations had been made, and we were to start for the East on or about the 1st of July; our kindred had been notified of our coming. Sister Cobb, before returning East, had urged my father to bring me to Boston to spend a portion of the summer, and my expectations and desires I thought were now to be gratified. This was the second time that I had anticipated a visit to the home of my birth, endeared by the fondest recollections of my infant years. I longed to see again those dear old meadows and green woods, where my cousins and I had strolled together with our playmates, climbing up the high fences to be able to reach the nicest autumn berries; and many instances and scenes I remembered distinctly. There were my father’s first potter shop and our dwelling house, built by his own hands. There his first four children were born—the first was a girl and the fourth a boy, who were buried in the little graveyard near by. And though last not least was the old red schoolhouse, standing upon the outskirts of the town, near a large swamp, where I first learned my a, b, c. My night and day dreams were filled with the bright hope of future and unalloyed pleasures which I imagined were in store for me. No girl, I think, ever felt more animated, or looked forward with a greater desire for the happy day to come that would see us off. The thought never entered my mind that the Prophet could be murdered, causing a sudden change in affairs that would call my father home, and thereby all the airy castles that I had been building be cruelly dashed to the ground.
The following hastily written lines tell of the awful fate of the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, and describe the scene in Nauvoo, and the deep sorrow and lamentation that filled the hearts of the people:
“NAUVOO, June 30 , 1844.
“MY DEAR COMPANION:
“Never before did I take up my pen to address you under so trying circumstances as we are now placed, but as Brother Adams, the bearer of this, can tell you more than I can write, I shall not attempt to describe the scene through which we have passed. I saw the lifeless bodies of our beloved brethren, when they were brought to their almost distracted families. Yea, I witnessed their tears and groans, which were enough to rend the heart of adamant. Every brother and sister who witnessed the scene felt deeply to sympathize with them; yea, every heart is filled with sorrow, and the very streets of Nauvoo seem to mourn. Where it will end the Lord only knows. We are kept awake night after night by the alarm of mobs. These apostates say, ‘Their damnation is sealed, their die is cast, their doom is fixed,’ and that they are determined to do all in their power to have revenge. William Law says he wants nine more that were in his quorum, sometimes I am afraid he will get them; I have no doubt but you are one. * * *
“There was a strange circumstance took place when the Legion was first called out to defend the city. There were several drums found with blood upon them. No one could account for it; they examined to see how many there were; they found ten, and when they were examining the eleventh, there came a large drop on that one. William has seen them, and says with all that the drums have been used, the blood is still plain to be seen.
“I try to submit all things into the hands of God. I have felt opposed to their sending for you to come home at present, and did not know as they would, until Brother Adams called here a few moments ago, and told me he should start in about two hours; if I wanted to write I must send it to the Mansion within that time. I have not time to say much, neither is it necessary, as he can tell you all. My health is better, and the children are all well. I mailed a letter to you last Monday, directed to Baltimore. The letters you sent from Washington all came together last Wednesday; the mail had not been in before for four weeks. When I read your pressing invitation for me to meet you, I again took courage, that the way would yet open for us to go, but alas! all our hopes in that direction are blasted. My constant prayer now is for the Lord to preserve us all to meet again. I have no doubt but your life will be sought, but may the Lord give you wisdom to escape their hands. My time is up, so now fare you well till we meet, which may the Lord soon grant, for His Son’s sake. Amen.
I well remember the morning that the news came to our city of the murder of Joseph and Hyrum. I had slept that night with Emily Partridge at the house of Winsor P. Lyou. The first sound that broke upon our ears was the voice of Sister Lyon, as she opened the door and told us that they were murdered.
Many scenes in Nauvoo, some of which are described by my mother, are still fresh in my memory. I stood in the door as the procession passed our house, which had increased to several thousand, who followed the wagons bearing the martyrs as they proceeded to the Mansion. I was an eye and ear witness to the insulting speech delivered by Governor Ford upon the very frame of a building which stood west of the Mansion, where a few days previous with thousands I had listened to Joseph’s last address to the Legion, never suspecting treachery nor the awful tragedy that was being enacted at Carthage, where this cowardly governor had pledged his honor and the faith of the state that they should be protected. We were promised that the laws should be magnified and justice be meted out to their murderers. It was the popularity of Joseph as candidate for the Presidency, and the power and influence that the “Mormon” people were gaining, that created a feeling of fear among the apostates and corrupt politicians, and a deeper hatred took possession of their hearts, similar to that which was felt by the Jews towards Jesus Christ, and like them they were determined to put an end to his earthly career.
It was the morning of June 24 when Joseph and Hyrum, with the city council, the Marshal and a number of others, started on horseback for Carthage. Joseph halted as they reached the temple, and looking with admiration upon it and upon the beautiful city, he remarked: “This is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens; little do they know the trials that await them.”
Our history tells a tale of bitter woe—the sufferings of the innocent, the robbings and drivings from their homes, the wailings of the widows and the orphans, the fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, for their dead and dying, and the surrendering of their arms and submitting to all the cruelties that could be heaped upon them, rather than deny their religion—but does it tell of any redress being made for the wrongs done them by this nation? No, nor do we loolc for any from them; but our case will be taken to a higher court, whence there is no appeal.
Woman’s Exponent, vol. 11, no. 15,
1 January 1883, p. 114