My grandfather, Jacob Bigler, came from Pennsylvania and settled on the east side of the west fork of the Monongahela River, about two miles below where the village of Thinnston now stands. He spoke the German language. My grandmother’s maiden name was Hannah Brother. My father was their oldest son; he had two brothers, Jacob and Henry. After the death of my grandfather, my father purchased the homestead of about three hundred acres.
My mother’s name was Ogden; she was a native of Maryland. Her family from conscientious motives had given freedom to their slaves. My father also was unwilling to deal in that kind of property. He devoted his energies to farming and to rearing cattle.
My school facilities were very limited. My father and other neighbors occasionally hired a teacher to teach a few months in the year in a vacant house on our farm.
The county of Harrison was hilly, and at the time of my girlhood the roads were of a primitive character, and the streams were without bridges. The mode of travel was chiefly on horseback. I took great pleasure in thus riding over the hills and mountains and in fording the streams.
I was somewhat religiously inclined; loved honesty, truthfulness and integrity. I attended to my secret prayers, studied to be cheerful, industrious, and happy, was opposed to rudeness. I often attended the meetings of different sects, but did not see much difference in them. I liked to attend the Presbyterian meetings, because they had the handsomest church and the Reverend Mr. Bristol was so gentlemanly and pious; and could preach so eloquently.
When I was in my sixteenth year, some Latter-day Saint elders visited our neighborhood. I heard them preach and believed what they taught. I believed the Book of Mormon to be a divine record, and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. I knew by the spirit of the Lord which [I] received in answer to prayer, that these things were true. On the 21st of August 1837, I was baptized into the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder Samuel James in Jones’ Run, on the farm and near the residence of Augustus Boggess [Burgess], and was confirmed by Elder Francis G. Bishop. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I knew that He accepted of me as a member in His Kingdom. My mother was baptized on this same day. My sister Sarah, next older than me, was baptized three days previously. My father, and my two oldest sisters, Matilda and Nancy, together with their husbands, Cal John S. Martin and Josiah W. Fleming were baptized into the same church soon afterwards. My uncle, Jacob Bigler, and his family had been baptized a few weeks before. A part of my first experience as a member of the church was, that most of my young acquaintances and companions began to ridicule us. The spirit of gathering with the Saints in Missouri came upon me, and I became very anxious indeed to go there that fall with my sister Nancy and family as they had sold out and were getting ready to go. I was told I could not go. This caused me to retire to bed one night feeling very sorrowful. While pondering upon what had been said to me about not going, a voice as it were said to me, “Weep not, you will go this fall.” I was satisfied and comforted. The next morning I felt so contented and happy; an observing which my sister Sarah said, “You have got over feeling badly about not going to Zion this fall have you?” I quietly, but firmly replied, “I am going. You will see.”
My brother, Jacob G. Bigler, having gone to Far West, Missouri, joined the church there and bought a farm for my father, and then returned. About this time my father sold his farm in West Virginia, and fitted out my mother, my brother and sister Sarah, Melissa and myself, and we started for Far West, Missouri, in company with my two brothers-in-law and my uncle and their families. Father stayed to settle up his business intending to join us at Far West in the spring, bringing with him, by water, farming implements [and] house furniture.
On our journey, the young folk of our party had much enjoyment. It seemed so novel and romantic to travel in wagons over hill and dale, through dense forests and over extensive prairies, and occasionally passing through towns and cities, sometimes traveling on Macadamized roads and camping in tents at night. On arriving in Missouri, we found the state preparing to wage war against the Latter-day Saints, the nearer we got to our destination the more hostile the people were. As we were traveling along, members of men would sometimes gather around our wagons and stop us. They would inquire who we were, where we were from, and where we were going to. On receiving answers to their questions, they would debate among themselves whether to let us go or not; their consultation would result generally in a statement to the eff “As you are Virginians we will let you go on, but we believe you soon will return for you will quickly become convinced of your folly.” Just before we crossed Grand River, we camped over night with a company of eastern Saints we had a meeting and rejoiced together. In the morning it was thought best for the companies to separate and cross the river at two different ferries, as this arrangement would enable all to cross in less time. Our company arrived at Far West in safety. But not so with the other company; they were overtaken at Haun’s Mill by an armed mob, seventeen were killed, many others were wounded, and some of them were maimed for life.
Three nights after we had arrived at the farm which my brother had bought, and which was four miles south of the city of Far West, word came that a mob were gathering on Crooked River, and a call was made for men to go out in command of Capt. David W. Patten for the purpose of trying to stop the depredations of the mob, who were whipping and otherwise maltreating our brethren, and who were destroying and burning property. Cap. David Patten’s company went, and a battle ensued. Some of the Latter-day Saints were killed, and several were wounded. I saw Bro. James Hendrik [Hendricks], one of the wounded, as he was being carried home; he was entirely helpless and nearly speechless. Soon afterwards Cap. David W. Patten, who was once one of the Twelve Apostles, was brought wounded into the house where we were. I heard him bear testimony to the truth of Mormonism. He exhorted his wife and all present to abide in the faith. His wife asked him if he had anything against her. He answered he had nothing against anyone. Elder Heber C. Kimball asked him if he would remember him when he got home. He said he would. Soon after, he died without a struggle.
In this state I saw thousands of mobbers arrayed against the Saints, and I heard their shouts and savage yells when our Prophet Joseph and his brethren were taken into their camp. I saw much, very much, of the suffering that were brought upon our people by those lawless men. The Saints were forced to sign away their property and to agree to leave the state before it was time to put in spring crops. In these distressing times, the spirit of the Lord was with us to comfort and sustain us, and we had a sure testimony that we were being persecuted for the Gospel’s sake, and that the Lord was not angry with none save those who acknowledged not his hand in all things.
My father had to lose what he had paid on his farm. And in February 1838, in the depth of winter, our family and thousands of the Saints were on the way to the State of Illinois. On this journey I walked many a mile to let some poor, sick, or weary soul ride. At night we would meet around the camp fire and take pleasure in singing the songs of Zion, trusting in the Lord that all would yet be well and that zion would eventually be redeemed.
In the spring, father joined us at Quincy, Illinois. We also had the joy of having our Prophet Joseph Smith and his brethren restored to us from their imprisonment in Missouri. Many, however, had died from want and exposure during our journey. I was sick for some time with ague and fever during which time my father was taken severely sick and died after suffering seven weeks. It was the first sickness either of us had ever had.
In the spring of 1840, our family moved to Nauvoo, in Illinois. Here I continued my punctuality in attending meetings, had many opportunities of hearing Joseph Smith preach, and tried to profit by his instructions, and received many testimonies to the truth of the doctrines he taught. Meetings were held out of doors in pleasant weather and in private houses when it was unfavorable. I was present at the laying of the cornerstone of the foundation of the Nauvoo Temple, and had become acquainted with the Prophet Joseph and his family.
On the 25th of July 1841, I was married to George Albert Smith, the then youngest member of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Don Carles [Carlos] Smith officiating. My husband was born June 24th, 1817, at Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, N.Y. He was a cousin of Joseph Smith. When I became acquainted with him in Virginia in 1837, he was the junior member of the first quorum of Seventy. On the 26th day of June 1838 he was ordained a member of the High Council of Adam ondiahman [Adam-ondi-Ahman] in Daviess County Missouri; just about the break of day on the 26th of April 1839, while kneeling on the cornerstone of the foundation of the Ponds House in the city of Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, he was ordained one of the Twelve Apostles and from thence started on a mission to Europe, from which he returned ten days before our marriage. Two days after we were married, we started, carpet-bag in hand, to go to his fathers, who lived at Zarahemla, Iowa Territory, about a mile from the Mississippi River. Walked about a mile and a half to the river side. A skiff had just been pushed off, we hailed it, the owner came back, took us in, and rowed us across the river without charge. We were met by my husband’s brother, John L. Smith, with a horse and a light wagon who conveyed us to his father’s. There we found a feast prepared for us, in partaking of which my husband’s father, John Smith, drank our health, pronouncing the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob upon us. I did not understand the import of this blessing as well then as I do now.
I was very happy and all of our relations on both sides were well pleased with our marriage. After living at Father Smith’s about a month, my husband rented a small log cabin close by and we moved into it. I had enough furniture, cooking utensils and earthenware, beds and bedding, including some nice earthenware which had been presented to my husband at the Staffordshire potteries in England while he was engaged there as a missionary. All of these blessings tending to make us very comfortable, but the house leaked and smoked and was otherwise uncomfortable. We next bought an unfinished log house, we fitted it up and built a brick chimney and that smoked. Soon after this my husband was counselled to move to Nauvoo. We did so and rented an old log house of Ebenezer Robinson which smoked and was open and cold. In a few weeks we rented a more comfortable room of Bp Unison Knight. Bro. Joseph gave us a lot, which had a small log house on it. My husband fixed up the house the best he could. But after all, it was the worst looking house we had yet lived in. I was ashamed to have any of my acquaintances see me in such a looking place. It had, however, the desirable qualities of neither smoking nor leaking.
My husband went to work with all the spare time he could get, and soon had a story and a half frame house put up, with four roomsit, two below and two above. By fencing and draining the lot, and putting much labor on it, we soon had a splendid garden with thrifty fruit trees, &c.
As the fourth of July 1842 came on Sunday, we celebrated the anniversary on Monday, the fifth. There was a military display of the Nauvoo Legion, and a sham battle formed part of the program. My husband was in the General’s staff, in the uniform of a chaplain. General Smith’s wife, Emma, and several other ladies rode with the staff.
I rode in a buggy, watching the proceedings of the day with the greatest interest.
At four o’clock on the morning of Wednesday the 7th of July 1842, a son was born to us. We named him George Albert. In about two months afterward, my husband started on a mission, leaving me about five pounds of flour, but with vegetables and corn growing in the garden, and a cow which supplied me with milk and butter. My brother-in-law, Caleb W. Lyons, made me a large grater and I grated the corn into meal for my bread and lived upon that until my husband was able to send me flour. He also sent me some pork, beans and wild red grapes which lasted us the winter; our garden supplying us bountifully with vegetables. He returned in about two months having preached in many of the principal towns in the State of Illinois. The winter set in early and very severely.
When on his mission in England, my husband in 1840, while preaching in London, injured his left lung, causing occasional hemorrhage. This winter, 1842-3, he took a violent cold, which, settling on his lungs, confined him to his room for some weeks.
In the Spring of 1843, Missouri renewed her wicked persecutions. Brother Joseph was arrested in Lee Coounty, Illinois, while on a visit to his wife’s relations. Great efforts were made by his brethren at Nauvoo to obtain his release. At a great expense of time and means he was brought to Nauvoo and there discharged under a writ of Habeas Corpus.
In this year, 1843, my husband went East on a mission; going as far as Boston, Mass., preaching and attending conferences by the way. He returned in the fall. My son George Albert had been sick all summer, which caused me great anxiety, he was now a little better. Soon after my husband’s return we were blessed by receiving our endowments and were sealed under the holy law of Celestial Marriage which was revealed July 12th, 1843. I heard the Prophet Joseph charge the Twelve with the duty and responsibility of administering the Ordinances of Endowment and of Sealing for the living and the dead. I met many times with Brother Joseph and others who had received their endowments, in company with my husband, in an upper room dedicated for that purpose and prayed with them repeatedly in those meetings.
I heard the Prophet give instructions concerning plural marriage; he counselled the sisters not to trouble themselves in consequence of it, that all would be right, and the result would be for their glond exaltation.
In the spring of 1844, a great number of the Elders went on missions. My husband started on the 5th of May, and traveled, preached and lectured in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Soon after he left, a terrible persecution was commenced in the city of Nauvoo which brought about the barbarous murder of our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith and of his brother Hyrum, our revered patriarch. The death of these men of God caused general mourning, which cannot be described.
My husband returned about the first of August and on the 14th we had a daughter born to us and named her Bathsheba. Soon, the rest of the Twelve returned. The times were very exciting, but under the wise counsels of the Twelve, the excitement abated. The Twelve Apostles who were acknowledged as the presiding Quorum of the Church, immediately exercised all their influence to finish the Temple and the Nauvoo House agreeably to the revelation of January 19th, 1841 [D&C 124]. Not content with the cruel wrongs inflicted, our persecutors continually annoyed us, but not withstanding this, rapid progress was made on the Temple and Nauvoo House, until September 1845, when the burning of one hundred and seventy five houses belonging to our people in Hancock County, by the mob, caused the sheriff of the county, J. B. Backenstos [Jacob B. Backenstos], to issue a proclamation calling for two thousand effective men as a posse comitatus to disperse the house burners.
My husband released four hundred workmen from the Nauvoo house to compose part of this posse. The work on the [Nauvoo] Temple continued. The house burners, to avoid being arrested, left the county. Governor Thomas Ford sent General John J. Harding at the head of four hundred militia to Nauvoo; he dismissed the sheriff’s posse, but the militia made no attempt to arrest the house burners. General Harding informed the Saints in Hancock County that the State could not protect them. The mob were determined to drive them from the state and therefore they must go. Previous to this, a council of the authorities of the church had passed a resolution, which, as a matter of policy, was kept private. This resolution was to send one thousand five hundred men as pioneers to make a settlement in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. This resolution was determined, and in accordance with the design and policy of the Prophet Joseph when living.
The people who had their houses burned, fled into Nauvoo for shelter. Our house was filled. The Temple was so far finished in the fall of 1845 that thousands received their endowments. I officiated for some time as Priestess.
Being thoroughly convinced, as well as my husband, that the doctrine of plurality of wives was from God, and having a fixed determination to attain to Celestial glory, I felt to embrace the whole Gospel, and that it was for my husband’s exaltation that he should obey the revelation on Celestial Marriage [D&C 132], that he might attain to kingdoms, thrones, principalities and powers, firmly believing that I should participate with him in all his blessings, glory and honor.
Accordingly within the last year, like Sarah of old, I had given to my husband five wives; good, virtuous, honorable young women. This gave them all homes with us, being proud of my husband and loving him very much, knowing him to be a man of God and believing he would not love them less because he loved me more. I had joy in having a testimony that what I had done was acceptable to my Father in Heaven.
The fall of 1845 found Nauvoo as it were, one vast mechanic shop, as nearly every family was engaged in making wagons. Our parlor was used as a paint shop in which to paint wagons. All were making preparations to leave the ensuing winter. On the 9th of February 1846, in company with many others, my husband took me and my two little children and some of the other members of our family, the remainder to follow as soon as the weather would permit, and we crossed the Mississippi River to seek a home in the wilderness.
Thus we left a comfortable home, the accumulations and labor of four years, taking with us but a few things such as clothing, bedding and provisions, leaving everything else for our enemies. We were obliged to stay in camp for a few weeks on Sugar Creek because of the weather being so very cold. The Mississippi froze over so that hundreds of families crossed over on the ice.
Bathsheba Wilson Bigler Smith, 1822-1910
Letters to George A. Smith. Church Archives.
Source: Letters of Bathsheba Wilson Bigler to George A. Smith, cited in Kenneth W. Godfrey, Audrey M. Godfrey, and Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982).
LETTERS OF BATHSHEBA WILSON BIGLER SMITH
Mr. George A. Smith Nauvoo, Illinois, October 12th, 1842
My Dear Companion,
I sit down this morning to write you a few lines–and feel thankful to my Heavenly Father that I have the privilege. We are well this morning and in midling good spirits. Some little disappointed. I had given way to a faint hope that you would return with Brother [Brigham] Young. Your father said he [thought] it was likely you would, but I was sadly disappointed when I found not a single line from you. Brother Young hallowed to me and told me you was well and if I wished to send you a line to bring it to his house this evening. Truly that much was a satisfaction to me.
George Albert was sick last Saturday and Sunday. He had quite a fever. I was very uneasy about him. I was afraid he was going to have the fever. I took him to the fount and had him baptized and since then he has not had any fever. He is about well now. Looks a little pale. I anointed him with oil a good many times and washed his little body with whiskey and water which was burning with fever but it did not do the good I wanted it should. I have written to you, this will be four times but William did not take one I wrote for him to take. Brother [George J.] Adams said he would] take one for me, but I did not much expect it would reach you there. But I have thought since it has. Whether you write or not I will be very apt to trouble you with a line every time I have the chance. I saw your father Fr They were all well. Had received a letter from you. I do not know what to write that will be the most satisfactory to you. Brother Young will tell you all that is going on.
I have got my corn and fodder secured, broom corn, [sunflower] seed and beans likewise. Melissa and me did it. Gilbert I expect will dig my potatoes. Uncle George is going to Keokuc [Iowa] to live. Brother [Wilford] Woodruff to [be], I expect my most [sociable] neighbor. Their baby has been very sick. Mary Ann has the ague [some?] since Jacob went away. Nancy’s children has been sick. Thadeas is now sick. [Jeremiah] is very low with the fever. Brother Alpheas and Jesse Harmon have gone. Appleton [Harmon] intends to go tomorrow. Mother Johnson sends her best love to you. Melissa likewise, and so do I. Brother Lightle says he has bespoke a man to plaster my house and he will find lime and sand and hair. I think of getting the two rooms plastered. Brother Canada was here last [Saturday] but one. Said he would bring some wheat here and get it growned [ground] and let me have some flower. Said he would bring a half a bushel of salt and some sugar. I stay at home. Am afraid to go to meeting. Been a visiting once at mothers. I have had so many melons and my dear was not here to help eat them. Oh I am so lonesome, all alone only [except] baby. (The writer guiding the baby’s hand) I is a good boy. I write to you. G. A. Smith, Jr. (I do not no whether you can read baby’s writing). BWS. [on margin] Write every chance. You do not know how I want to see you.
Mr. George A. Smith, New York City, New York; Sabbath morning, Nauvoo, July 16th, 1843.
My Dear [husband], I sit down this morning to address you with a few lines and I pray my Heavenly Father that these lines may find you in good health and spirits, and likewise the rest of the brethren. My health is midling good at present. I have had a very severe cold but have got nearly over it. The baby is quite sick with a cold. He had a very hot fever last night. Father will lay hands on him as he goes to meeting. There are a great many complaining with colds. It is called the influenza. Caroline has been sick with a cold but is better now. Sister [Vilate] Kimball told me Doctor [John M.] Burnhisel was a going to New York the middle of next week. He said he would carry letters to New York for us. I have not much to write for I have not heard much since you left. It seems a long time although I think I have got along quite as well as could be expected. Your Father visits us everyday. They were all to dinner one day with me. We had a plenty beans, peas, beets, and such like things. [Oh] if you could have been here we would have been quite happy.
I wish I could have been with you and stayed until you started for it seemed such a long time until the boat came. I thought perhaps you would come home again a few minutes, but I was disappointed. I wanted to see you very much. I would have gone to you if I could. [Oh] my Dear it is nothing to cry when one feels as I did when I saw the boat going down. I was pleased to think you would not have to wait any longer, but then how could I bare to have it carry you off so rapidly from me. I watched it until I could not see it any longer then I held my head for it ached. Soon your father and mother came in. George A. cries pa. He feels bad. He wants to see you. He often goes to the door to see y. When we say where is Father, he will say a da pa. Brother [Alvin] Hor has brought me a load of wood. Everything has passed on smoothly since you left as yet. I want to hear from you very much. Trust I may soon. I will close for the present.
Sabbath morning, July the 23–Dearest Albert, as Doctor Burnhisel has not gone as yet I again have the privilege of writing to you this morning. My health and spirits are good. George A. has had the measles in addition to his cold and cutting teeth. He has been quite sick but is getting well fast. He begins to play and crawl about again. I expect he was exposed to the measles on the fourth of July. I have not went to meeting since you left but stay at home. Sickness has kept me, if nothing else, but I think home is the best place for me, this hot weather. Joseph [Smith] preached last Sunday. I should liked to have been there very much. He preaches again today.
Brother Far gave me a letter you sent me last Friday. He said you were all in good spirits. I shall not attempt to express the joy that I felt when he gave it to me. When I read you had been sick, I felt very bad for I feared you had not got over it yet or you might take cold again. I expect it was the influenza the same I had. I began to be sick the day you left, Saturday, Sunday and Monday I was quite sick, but thank the lord I am well again as usual, and think my baby will be soon. I hope and pray you are well by this time. I should be pleased to spend this afternoon with you. It seems to me I could not wish to enjoy myself better than to sit under the sound of your rich and lovely voice and hear you unfold the rich treasure of your mind. Even the sound of your footstep would music in my ear. I almost forget I am alone, whilst I fancy to myself how happy I should be. The baby is waking. I must quit writing for the present.
Wednesday, July 26th.
Dearest George A., I am well and in good spirits but want to see you very much. I cannot help liking to see the time roll away. Little George Albert is nearly well. Has three more teeth. Sister Ridge and Barton are both dead, died in Fortmaddison [Iowa]. Our folks have had a letter from Jacob [G. Bigler]. He writes he has gained the lawsuit. Their is no telling when he will] get the money, for the land will have to be sold perhaps on six or twelve months credit. Our garden stands the drought as well as any ones I have seen. We have had two or three small rains since you left. Our well holds out first rate. All the neighbor’s come here for water. I saw Sister [Phebe] Woodruff yesterday. She said she would write by mail for Dr. Bernhisel kept putting off starting so much. I think he will go soon. She said she would write some for me so that would answer without me writing by mail.
August 11th, 1843. Tuesday morning.
Dearest, G. A. we are all well this morning with the exception of Melissa. She has the measles but is getting better. I received your very kind letter yesterday. I was very happy to hear you were well and in good spirits. Amasa Lyman is sick. Your father’s about like you was last winter. John is a going to school. They are all well. They are all very kind to me. I feel in good spirits. Think it will not be long until I see you. I think I shall be able to get the house plastered soon. Dr. Barnhisel has given up going for a while yet so I will send it by mail. He has disappointed us all very much. We will try to be good children whilst you are gone. G. A. can go up stairs alone, but cannot walk quite yet. Yesterday I received a skein of yarn sent to you by Rosell H. Smith, Brown County, Illinois. Your father says it is your cousin. Doctor [Levi] Richards was here yesterday. Says tell you we are all alive in Nauvoo only [except] those that are dead. He said tell you he had been hear, then he laughed. I think he [thought] of what he said to you. Remain as ever yours sincerely B. W. Smith.
Mr. George A. Smith, Boston, Massachusetts., Nauvoo, September [12th], 1843.
Dear Husband, I sit down to write to you again to inform you that we are all well at present and in first rate spirits. I received a letter from you yesterday, you wrote me in Philadelphia which gave me great satisfaction, for a line from you is the sweetest morsel I can possibly get. I should like to have been with you and have seen the things you wrote about much, but I feel like I should be satisfied if I could see you without seeing anymore. The time rolls away tolerable swiftly. I hope it is half gone. My prayer is that you may get home before cold weather sits in.
We got the letter you sent to President [Sidney] Rigdon last Sunday which we was much pleased to get. When I get a letter first all the rest come to hear it. The brethren’s wives have all been to see me this week. They are all well. I do not think there is much sickness. There is not in our neighborhood. We have had several good rains or midling goodrains. I think our garden will be tolerable good. Our potatoes are poor. Vines are quite good. We begin to have plenty of melons which make many hearts rejoice and ours are made glad. We have a plenty of tomatoes. George Albert feasts on tomatoes and melons. He begins to walk and talk. I think I shall wean him before you get home. He has had the bowel and cankel complaint very bad but is well now. I think it hindered his walking. He has only six teeth as yet.
Our well is dry. We have to go to the Bishop’s for the last few days. Our cow does midling well. She does not go in the [drove] for she cannot get anymore on the prairie than she can get at home. She comes home every night very well. With your father’s [and] others help I shall be enabled to get our house plastered next week. Expect I have got it lathed upstairs with the exceptions of the largest room overhead. I got 10 bushel of lyme of [William?] Nyswanger and Uncle [Isaac] Morley got sand and made the morter yesterday. I had money to get hair and nails with the exceptions of one pickoon [picayune] which Melissa let me have. Josiah let me have fifty feet of lumber and Amos did the carpenter work. Brother Moss is sick. He cannot plaster the house. Brother [Samuel] Flag says he will. Ickabad got me a gallon of whiskey for pickles. My cowcumbers do well. He said he would get some flower and honey and candles as he could as well as not, but has not as yet. I am about out of flower now. Father has brought nearly one bushel of [meal] since you left. Have plenty as yet. Caleb promised to bring me home the flower he borrowed this week. I think there is not any danger but I shall get along.
Father and I thought perhaps you would get this before you left Boston and if not no harm done. I have had a fine ride in Joseph’s big carriage. Went six or [eight] miles out. Amasa Lyman and family are at your Fathers. Have been there two or three weeks. Amasa was very sick but is so as to ride out now. His wife has the ague and fever. The children have had it but are well now I believe. Perhaps your father will want to write some. Mr. Brown and Melissa talk so fast and so much it bothers me to write. You must excuse this and look over all my imperfection. I am as ever yours in time and for eternity. Bathsheba W. Smith.
[There follows a short note to George A. Smith from his father, John Smith.]
[The following letter is from the Gearge A. Smith (1834-1875) papers, Church History Library, Box 9, folder 12.]
Nauvoo Sept 14th 1843
Dear Husband I sit my self down this morning to address you with a few lines in answer to your vary kind and welcom letter, which I received last wedensday, when I take this letter to the office this evening I will some expect to get another one from you my Dear, we are all well and in good spirits, thinking evry [h]our that passes a way brings the time nearer when we will meet again, but for how long a tim you will have the privalage of staying at home we do not know. I should be one of the happyest of women if you could stay at home. I am any how, but should be more happy if you could be with me, but I feel thankfull that I am worthy of such a Husban that can do so much good as you are capable of doing. I am thankfull that you are willing to help roole [role] on the kingdom of god and hasten the day, when pease will cover the earth—-
Sister Kimball has just been in says give her best love to her Husband and says tell him they are all well and in good spirits says she mailed a full sheet last sunday for Pittsburg she put a few words in it for me she sends her love to you, Sister Nixon is here she send her love ot you, a week ago last sunday I wrote to you to Utica, we thought it not worth while to write to Buffalo.
I am vary thankfull that you have got a long so comfortable on your mishion and have had your health as will as you have I am sorrow to hear you have ever been sick one moment sinse you left but my constant prayers is that we may all meet a gain in health and pease, that we may enjoy each others componey a again and thank and prayse our heavenly Father.
Father is a going to move to Ramos or Massadonia this fall Joseph says in the name of the [Lord] he must go or it is best to preside of the Church, Father toald him he was willing to allways to obey council Joseph and Father is a going out there this week I believe they are middling willing to go they think they will get a long, better, but hat to leave Nauvoo
I was at meeting last sabbath heard elder Babbot preach in the forenoon and afternoon a unitarian after he got through Joseph spoke, we had quite an interesting time I should have been pleased if you could have been there, Joseph has moved in his new house is keeping tavern. Sister Emma has been sick is better now, Sarah calls here baby Amanda she is tolerable well, the breathrens wives and famaleys are well the last I heard Sister Pratt was her Sunday says she has not had a letter for a long time she feeles quite bad, I do not [k]now of any one being sick to tell you of Amasa is getting well fast and family likewise, George Albert is well is walking all about the floor I have been asking him what to write for him but he does not talke plain enough for me to understand, he is a good boy I think of weaning him before you come home, our cow did not come home last night or this morning, it is the first time she has staid out[.] our garden dose pretty well we have had a good rain since Sunday it is nearly clear now, is quite warm, now water in our well as yet, we have had a good many mellens nearley gone now I d not know much to write you must excuse This I will close and lett Melissa write some. I am as ever your affectionate wife. B. W. Smith G. A. Smith
Mr. George A. Smith, Boston, Massachusetts., Nauvoo, June 15th, 1844.
Dear Husband, I again take my pen to inform you we are well, and most earnestly desire this letter may find you so. We are just done mopping and cleaning the house. Melissa has made or fixed three fine flower pots. We have got some new window curtains. We are a going to have a good dinner. We have some apples a stewing for pies. Sister [Catherine] Clawson has just sent word for us to not get dinner, for she would send us some roasted veal. Oh how I wish you could take dinner and chat an hour or two with us at least. We have been to the post office again and again but cannot get one word from you. How I do wish I did know you were well. I think I will get a letter tomorrow. I expected one certain last Wednesday. I sent but no letter. I thought you must be sick or you would have written, for I have been uneasy about you for you had to ride in the rain so much. At last I thought perhaps you had written to your father and thought he would send it to me if you were scarce of money, but the roads have been so bad, the bridges are most all washed away that it is all most impossible to go to or come from Messedonia [Macedonia] here. Or perhaps the roads are bad [other] places so that the mail might be hindered. I flatter myself with these and other things that you are well and so I [thought] I would write to Boston and perhaps you would get it.
Uncle Asel Smith has been here and ate dinner with us. He says his family are well. He said he was much pleased to see us so well, and getting along so well. I have not heard from father’s for some time. They were well the last I heard. Father sent me a quarter of a dollar he got for your books. George has gone to sleep and now I can finish my letter. He is quite well. Can walk nicely, begins to talk considerably, begins to look healthy, eats hearty, laugh’s a good deal, is not half so much trouble stands on his stool to eat, has a plate to himself. Will not sleep with me more than half the time. Some time he will come in the bed an hour or two and be satisfied, but if I take him to bed with me it is against his will. So much for George. He often talks about you. I think he will not forget you. We have had a great deal of rain since you left. Almost everyday for seven weeks it has rained, a great many hard rains. Our cellar has water a considerable here than the offset or the highest part. The well is very full likewise. We have had the garden plowed. It looks very well but would [do] better if it did not rain so much. The worms trouble all the neighbor’s gardens, but have not mine but little. A great many people have had more or less out of our garden such as lettuce, onions, radishes and greens. Indeed I do not know what they would have done if it were not for us. But to get anyone to work in it is like pulling eye teeth. Our early potatoes are getting quite large. The corn is in tossel. Cabbage looks well. Vines rather poor. Tomatoes in blow. Beets quite large. Will soon have peas. A good many of our flowers are in blossom. Our cow has had the hollow horn. I believe she is well now. I have sold six pounds of butter since you left.
Their has been some excitement in town, but I do not feel alarmed. The lawites [William and Wilson Law and their associates] had got their printing press a going. Had printed one paper [Nauvoo Expositor], and a scandalous thing it was. The City Council examined its lease and found it a nuisance so the [authorities] went and burned and destroyed the press. This made the Lawites mad. They tried to get a mob but failed. Joseph and those that were concerned in it have been tried but were cleared. The Laws and a good many have gone and are going off.
I have not been to meeting since you left on the hill. I have been twice down to the meeting in Joseph’s storehouse. I do not go anywhere much. My health has been quite good ever since you left. I enjoy myself pretty well. Would better if I could hear from you oftener. I received to [two] letters dated May 13th and a few lines May 21st. I have written three times. I do not know whether Sister Woodruff will write or not. I saw her this morning. She was well. I hope I will see you in two months from this day the Lord willing. Be of good cheer and come home when you think best. You may be sure I will be pleased, let that be when it will. May the Lord bless you and bring you home safe in health and prosperity. I remain yours affectionately. BWS [This follows a short note by Melissa Bigler]
Sister [Phebe] Woodruff has not received any word from [Brother Woodruff] since the 21st of May. She and I see each other and counsel about writing and wonder why we cannot get a letter. Give my love to Sister Lloyd. Tell her I would be pleased to see her. We have had rain everyday this week and I believe it will continue longer by the looks of the time. B. W. Smith.
[There follows a note from Phebe to Wilford Woodruff]
Mr. George A. Smith, Newark, Kendall County, Illinois, July 6th, 1844.
My Dear Husband, I sit down this morning to let you know we are all well, and in as good spirits as could be expected considering all things. We have strange times since you left. You will no doubt hear before this reaches you, of the death of our beloved Brethren Joseph and Hyrum Smith. They were killed at Carthage on the 27th of June and on 28th they were brought home and such a day of mourning never was seen. It pains me to write such a painful tale, but the Lord has comforted our hearts in a measure. The Governor [Thomas Ford] begins to open his eyes. He says we are a law abiding people and he has pledged himself and the faith of the state that he will protect us. The mob has tried to get the governor to get force to exterminate or drive the Mormons but he refuses. We feel as though he would try to redeem his character. Brother [John] Taylor was wounded but is getting better, is quite weak but quite cheerful. Brother [Willard] Richards was not hurt. They were both in jail at the time of the massacre. I will not write any more on that subject as I expect you will hear all the particulars before this reaches [you]. I received a letter on Thursday from you dated June 14th and this morning your father sent me two letters from you one dated June the 14 and one dated June 21. I cannot express my joy on receiving these letters. I was pleased to hear you was so well and got along so well and had turned torg [toward] home. I was sorrow to hear you had not heard from home. I have written this makes five times since you left and I write thinking probably you will not get this. You, and the rest of the Twelve are sent for. I expect you will get hear about the same time the rest will. They were sent for to come home as soon as possible.
Brother Adams has gone to Boston and [Jedediah] M. Grant to Washington. Joseph told Adamson margin to go and tell the Twelve to come home when the tragedy was over and a good many more things, which he should preach on Sunday before he was killed, but the people did not understand it. Adams said he was a going to speak in parable. I have understood he said he did not understand all himself but it is explained now. I want you to take good care of yourself and not let the mobbers get you. I shall pray for you much. I have not really wished you here since our troubles but I cannot say I have not wished myself with you. A great many [old] women expected our city to have been in ashes before this time but I have not been bad enough scared to make me tremble, though I have had some bad feelings.
George A. is well as usual, has the bowel complaint some but much better in health than he was when you left. He has been sick once or twice but generally tolerable well. I think he will know you when you get home. We get along very well. I have my health very good. Our garden looks quite as well as anyone’s I have seen. We have had potatoes three or four weeks. We have had several messes of boiled corn. Our peas are about write to eat. Wish you was here to help eat them. You must excuse this letter for we have had everything you could think of talked about since the flood and the worst pen I ever tried to write with by all odds. Sarah and her children are here and others have been here since I commenced to write. Your father came out and [family] last Friday. Stayed until Monday. They were all well. Thought all would come out right at last.
Jacob [Bigler] and Jesse came home in a week or to after you left. Brought some dried apples but not any money. I got one bushel of him. We have a plenty to eat. Do not be uneasy about us but come home as soon as you can and see how we get along. Oh my dear I do want to see you come home. I pray the Lord to bring you home safe. Jacob was married in four weeks after he came home to Miss Ama [Amy Loretta] Chases of Nauvoo. I have written everything up to the war in my letters to you. I received the five dollar note you enclosed in your last. I will put this in the office and wish it may reach you. You are excusable for not writing oftener. I did not think it was your fault, but I thought on account of the rain or the mob for the mail did not come in regular. Four mails come in this week. The cause of this I have [not] learned. I have sent twice a week to the office almost ever since you left. Tell the good folk to send you home as soon as possible.
Sarah and Melissa sends their love to you. I will close by saying may the Lord bless you with food and raiment and with health and friends and preserve you from all evil and the hand of wicked men. I remain as ever yours for time and eternity.
Bathsheba W. Smith.