We commenced to learn the art of printing with Mr. E. A. Maynard, in the “Observer” office, in the city of Utica, New York; in the spring of 1832; afterwards worked under instruction, with Mr. L. L. Rice, in the Ohio Star office in Ravenna, Portage County, Ohio. Remained with Mr. Rice until he sold out his printing establishment to Lauren Lewey [Dewey?], in December, 1833. Mr. Rice afterwards purchased a printing establishment from E. D. Howe, of Painesville, Ohio, among the papers of which, he unwittingly, became in possession and custodian, of the noted “Spaulding Manuscript Found,” which, with other papers, was put away in a trunk and not examined for some fifty years, until Dr. McKosh, president of the Oberlin College of Ohio, was visiting him when they thought they would look over his old abolition papers, and found this Spaulding manuscript, properly certified to.
Mr. Rice was a very amiable Christian gentleman, and had a very interesting, pleasant family.
After Mr. Rice sold out to Mr. Dewey, we went to Hudson, Ohio, and worked in the Hudson Observer office, a Presbyterian paper, published in the interest of the Hudson College in that place.
In May, 1835, went to Kirtland, Ohio, and obtained a situation in the Latter-day Saints’ Church printing office, which was conducted under the firm name, of F. G. Williams and Company. The firm consisted of Joseph Smith, Jr., F. [Frederick] G. Williams and Oliver Cowdery. We engaged to work by the month and be boarded by our employers. When we went there we had no faith in their religion, as it was everywhere spoken against, but as we wrote to one of our sisters residing in the state of New York, we considered “Mormon money as good as anybody’s money,” and were very glad to secure the situation.
We boarded the first two months in the family of Oliver Cowdery, the second two months in the family of F. [Frederick] G. Williams, and the third two months in the family of Joseph Smith, Jr. We found them all very pious, good Christian people, asking a blessing at the table and all attended to family worship morning and evening. This we was glad to see, as we had been accustomed to it from our earliest childhood in our father’s home.
We had made a profession of religion when about fifteen years of age, but had not joined any church, as we could not find any that taught the gospel as we read it in the new testament scriptures, and had so stated to our friends when importuned to join their church. We had been raised a Baptist of the strictest order of the sect, both parents belonging to that church, and a brother and two sisters having recently united with it, and one brother united with the Methodist church. We had also been importuned by a young friend belonging to the Presbyterian church, to join that church, our reply was, “they all had some parts of the gospel, but none had it all, and we would not join any church until we found one that had it all.” We believe in faith and repentance and baptism by immersion, and the enjoyment of the gifts and blessings promised by our Savior as recorded in the last chapter of Mark; and a consistent daily walk as portrayed by our Savior in his Sermon on the Mount. We found a people there who, to our surprise, taught them all; and, to our understanding, practiced them.
The members of the Church there in that day all seemed to love one another, and take a deep interest in each other’s welfare, and it was a pleasure to be with them. It seemed to us that if they met several times a day they would always greet each other with a hearty shake of the hand, and a “God bless you,” and all seemed anxious to live according to the teachings of Christ.
All the other hands in the printing office were members of the Church, but none of them ever made any attempt at proselyting us. On one occasion when boarding at Joseph Smith’s, he said to us, “When you are baptized I want to baptize you,” on another occasion, as we were walking together after dinner, from his house to the printing office, he said to us, “you will help me build Zion, won’t you?” do not recollect of making any reply at either time.
Our prejudices were such when we first went there, that when the elders coming into the office and speaking of their success in the ministry which they attributed to the power of truth, as presented by them, we remember to have momentarily stopped from our work, and of mentally saying: “Truth, what do you know about truth.” It was not long, however, until we became satisfied we were with a people who not only taught, but more perfectly practiced the gospel lessons, than any people we had ever before known, and we began earnestly to look into the matter. Then for a short time, felt an anxiety to believe the old Calvinistic doctrine of election and reprobation in which we had been reared; reasoning thus, if that doctrine be true, and we should lead ever so pious, self-denying a life and be a reprobate, we would be consigned to the pit; whereas, on the other hand, if we were elected to be saved we could lead ever so free and easy a life and yet have salvation. But our heart revolted at the thought, and we dismissed it from our mind.
After having conclusively settled in our mind that the Calvinistic doctrine of election was not a safe one to risk the salvation of our soul upon, we then went to work in earnest, searching the scriptures, and praying fervently to our Heavenly Father to be pleased to show us the truth as it was with him, as it was the truth, and the truth only, that we wanted.
It was not long until our Heavenly Father condescended to manifest to us clearly, by his peaceful spirit, that the gospel, as set forth in the New Testament scriptures and Book of Mormon, which was taught by this people, was true. Straightway, upon receiving this testimony, we felt an intense desire to be baptized, but told no one our feelings.
At dinner that day, (October 16, 1835) Joseph Smith, Jr., finished his meal a little before the others at the table, and went and stood in the doorway (the door being open, it being a warm pleasant day), with his back to the door jamb, when we arose and went and stood before him, and looking him in the face said, “Do you know what I want?” when he replied, “No, without it is to go into the waters of Jordan.” We told him that was what we wanted, when he said he would attend to it that afternoon. We then went to the printing office together, he to his council room which adjoined the room where we worked, and we to our work in the printing office. We worked until well on to the evening, feeling very anxious all the time, for it seemed that we could not live overnight without being baptized; after enduring it as long as we could, went to the door of their room, and gently opened it, (a thing we had never presumed to do before). As soon as Mr. Smith saw us he said, “Yes, yes, brethren, Brother Robinson wishes to be baptized, we will adjourn and attend to that.”
We repaired to the water, (the Chagrin River which flows through Kirtland) and, after a season of prayer, Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., baptized us by immersion, and as we arose from the water it seemed that everything we had on left us, and we came up a new creature, when we shouted aloud, “Glory to God.” Our heart was full to overflowing, and we felt that we had born again in very deed, both of water and of the spirit.
In going up from the water Brother Joseph Smith said to the brethren, “I am not afraid of Brother Robinson ever denying the faith.” We thank our Heavenly Father that a doubt of the truth of the glorious gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which we then obeyed, has never found lodgement in this poor heart from that day to this (April 25, 1889), for one single moment. Our soul rejoices in it still, and we trust it will, by his grace assisting us, while our Heavenly Father gives us breath.
The principles of the gospel, as presented to our understanding, and which we received and obeyed, were, faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of all our sins, baptism in water by immersion for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which qualifies us for the gifts and blessings promised by our Savior in the last chapter of Mark’s gospel, where he says:
“. . . Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 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 with 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.”
We were taught by that people that all these precious gifts and blessings can be enjoyed by the believers in this age of the world, as in former ages, we believed these things with all our heart, and after more than fifty years’ experience we can certify to the truth of the same.
It is by virtue of teaching this gospel, with the signs and blessings following, which gives the elders of all the factions of the Church their success.
These signs and blessings have followed, and been enjoyed by the honest hearted, pure-minded members of the Brighamite, or Utah Church, of whom we verily believe there are thousands. Several very remarkable, well-authenticated cases of healing are on record in their public journals, where the parties have followed the instruction given by the Apostle James, in the 5th chapter and 14th and 15th verses of his epistle, where he says: “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: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and Lord shall raise him up . . .”
We can testify, in truth, that these gifts and blessings were enjoyed by members of the Church in Elder Rigdon’s organization and he used to take it as a sure sign that his organization was correct, and approved of God. We did not view it in that light, but believed, as Peter expressed it in the case of Cornelius, “. . . He that feareth God [him] and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him,” and that these things are individual matters, for Jesus says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; . . . And these signs shall follow them that believe; . . .” This was, and is our faith.
We are credibly informed that these signs and blessings were enjoyed by members of Elder J. J. Strang’s organization, and we believe the testimony.
We also believe the same is true of the members of Wm. [William] Bickerton’s, Granville Hederick’s, Lyman Wright’s, and other organizations.
But to return to Kirtland.
The first Sunday after our baptism, were confirmed a member of the Church by the laying on of the hands of the elders, and for the gift of the Holy Ghost, as anciently practiced, as recorded in the 8th and 19th chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, but experienced no perceptible change at the time, having received the birth of the Spirit at baptism.
Not long after this an incident occurred which caused us to go to our Heavenly Father for his protection and guidance. Brother Oliver Cowdery called us into his office (the council room of the First Presidency, spoken of before), and said they would settle with us, and that they could get along without our services longer; however, if we would stay for eleven dollars per month we could do so. This surprised us very much, as it was the first intimation we had received that our services were not needed. The first thought was to leave and go to Columbus, Ohio, where printers were in demand and wages far greater than at Kirtland, but we did not wish to go where we would be deprived of church privileges. We told Brother Cowdery we would let him know, and returned to our work setting type as before, but our heart was full, and we looked to our Heavenly Father with all the feelings of our soul, and dropping our face upon our hands, as we stood at the case, said: “Father, what shall I do?” In an instant the answer came in words clear and distinct, “Stay and be happy.” We went directly to Brother Cowdery and told him we would stay.
Not long after this, another incident occurred which tested the truthfulness of the teachings of Jesus and the happy effect of obedience to the gospel had upon our own heart.
James Carrell, a foreman in the printing office, became exceedingly angry at us, and charged us with having told something about him which we had not told, and was innocent of the charge as a babe, but could not make him believe it. The more we protested our innocence, the more angry he seemed to get, until, as we were walking by the side of the imposing stone in the middle of the room, and he behind us, something said to us, “he is striking at you,” when we instantly dodged our head forward just in time to save the force of the blow, but he struck us in the back of the neck with sufficient force to knock our hat off, when we turned and smiled at him. We did not feel one particle of anger. He turned and walked the other way. We went to our work as usual. Just before sundown he came to us and said he wished we would take a walk with him. We went together to a field not far away, when he told us he “dare not let the sun go down on his wrath,” and that when he struck us and we turned and smiled at him, it whipped him the most severely he ever was whipped in his life, and begged us to forgive him, with tears and weeping. We cheerfully forgave him all, and was thankful at the result. It gave us a practical demonstration of the truthfulness of the teachings of our Savior where he commands us to render good for evil, and it should be like “heaping coals of fire upon their heads.”
In addition to the papers and hymnbook which were being printed in the office, there were also being printed the first edition of the book of Doctrine and Covenants, having on its title page these words, which we copy from one of the books printed at that time, now lying before us:
“Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of LATTER-DAY SAINTS: carefully selected from the revelations of God, and compiled by Joseph Smith, Junior, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams (Presiding Elders of said church), Proprietors. Kirtland, Ohio. Printed by F. [Frederick] G. Williams and Company for the Proprietors. 1835.”
On the 17th day of August, 1835, a general assembly of the Church convened in the lower part of the temple, to hear the report of the compiling committee of said book, and determine, by vote, whether they “accepted and acknowledged it as the doctrine and covenants of their faith.”
After the only two members of the committee who were present, viz: Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon, had reported, several official members of the Church, presidents of quorums, arose, one after another, and testified to the truth of the book, and they and their quorums “accepted and acknowledged it as the doctrine and covenants of their faith.” Afterwards the question was put to the whole assembly and carried, unanimously.
We attended that meeting, and noticed that a majority of those voting did so upon the testimony of those who bore record to the truth of the book, as they had no means of knowing whether any alterations had been made in any of the revelations or not.
Neither Joseph Smith, Jr., or Frederick G. Williams, were present at this general assembly, as they had gone to Michigan.
The Church had been engaged for nearly two years in building a temple, and were making great efforts to complete it sufficient to have it dedicated, as upon that occasion they believed a great endowment from the Lord would be conferred upon them, having so understood some of the revelations upon the subject. Several official members of the Church residing in Missouri, had been called to Kirtland to be present on that occasion, to wit; David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Edward Partridge, W. [William] W. Phelps, George M. Hinkle, Elisha H. Groves, George Morey, and others. These brethren were frequently in the printing office, which gave us opportunity to get acquainted with them.
On the 13th day of December, 1835, we were united in wedlock with Miss Angeline Eliza Works, a member of the Church. We immediately commenced housekeeping, when we commenced family prayer morning and evening, and asking a blessing at meals, which practice has been continued in our family to this day. Our companion was a spiritually-minded woman, and one of great faith, which was a great help to us. We were taught these duties by the elders of the Church, as well as our own promptings, and were blessed and prospered of the Lord.
As the time drew near for the dedication of the temple, the brethren and sisters seemed anxious to humble themselves, and have their hearts prepared to receive the rich and choice blessings of heaven, the anxiously looked for endowment.
On Sunday the 27th day of March, 1836, previous notice having been given, the members of the Church began to assemble in the temple before 8 o’clock a.m. and by 9 o’clock the house was crowded full, so that the doors were ordered closed. It was estimated there were 1,000 people present. Services commenced by reading the 96th and 24th Psalms, and singing hymn “Ere long the vail will rend in twain,” and prayer by President Sidney Rigdon, after which he delivered a powerful sermon of two hours and a half duration, from the 20th verse of the 8th chapter of Matthew.
The exercises lasted until past four o’clock p.m. with a short intermission of about 15 minutes at noon.
We now quote from the March (1836) Number of the Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate, giving an account of the proceedings of the meeting.
“The P.M. services commenced by singing a hymn. President J. [Joseph] Smith, Jr., then rose, and after a few preliminary remarks, presented the several presidents of the Church, then present, to the several quorums respectively, and then to the Church as being equal with himself, acknowledging them to be prophets and seers. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative in every instance. Each of the different quorums was presented in its turn to all the rest, and then to the Church [members], and received and acknowledged by all the rest, in their several stations without a manifest dissenting sentiment.
President J. Smith, Jr., then addressed the congregation in a manner calculated to instruct the understanding, rather than please the ear, and at or about the close of his remarks, he prophesied to all, that inasmuch as they would uphold these men in their several stations, alluding to the different quorums in the Church the Lord would bless them; yea, in the name of Christ, and the blessings of heaven shall be yours. And when the Lord’s anointed go forth to proclaim the Word, bearing testimony to this generation, if they receive it, they shall be blessed, but if not, the judgments of God will follow close upon them, until that city or that house, that rejects them, shall be left desolate.”
He then offered the dedication prayer, which occupies over seven columns of the Messenger and Advocate.
“President [Joseph] Smith, [Jr.], then asked the several quorums separately and then the congregation, if they accepted the prayer. The vote was, in every instance, unanimous in the affirmative.
The Eucharist was administered. D. [Don] C. [Carlos] Smith blessed the bread and wine and they were distributed by several elders present, to the Church.
President J. [Joseph] Smith, Jr., then arose and bore record of his mission. D. [Don] C. [Carlos] Smith bore record of the truth of the work of the Lord in which we are engaged.
President O. [Oliver] Cowdery spoke and testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and of the work of the Lord in these last days.
President F. [Frederick] G. Williams bore record that a holy angel of God came and sat between him and J. [Joseph] Smith, Sen., while the house was being dedicated.”
We did not see the angel, but the impression has evidently obtained with some, that we did see the angel, from the fact that different persons, strangers from abroad, have called upon us and expressed gratification at meeting with a person who had seen an angel, referring to the above circumstance. We told them they were mistaken, that we did not see the angel, but that President F. [Frederick] G. Williams testified as above stated. We believed his testimony, and have often spoke of it both publicly and privately.
“President Hyrum Smith, (one of the building committee) made some appropriate remarks concerning the house, congratulating those who had endured so many toils and privations to erect it. That it was the Lord’s house built by his commandment and he would bless them.
President S. [Sidney] Rigdon then made a few appropriate closing remarks, and a short prayer which was ended with loud acclamation of Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! to God and the Lamb, Amen, Amen, and Amen! Three times. Elder B. [Brigham] Young, one of the Twelve, gave a short exhortation in tongues himself; Elder D. [David] W. Patten interpreted and gave a short exhortation in tongues himself; after which, President J. [Joseph] Smith, Jr., blessed the congregation in the name of the Lord, and at a little past four P.M. the whole exercise closed and the congregation dispersed.”
Elder J. [Jedediah] M. Grant prophesied there would be a railroad built from Kirtland to Jackson County, Missouri, within ten years. There is no railroad to Kirtland to this day.
The official members of the Church met in the temple and attended to the ordinance of washing and anointing each other with oil in the name of the Lord, and washing each others’ feet. The number of official members were so great that several days and nights were occupied in these exercises. But not having yet been ordained, we were not present at any of them.
April 6, it being the sixth anniversary of the organization of the Church, “agreeable to the laws of our country,” in commemoration of which the Church in Kirtland met in the temple and held a prayer meeting.
On the 30th of April we were ordained an elder in the Church, and enrolled in the First Quorum of Seventy, several others were ordained at the same time. The next forenoon, May 1, those elders who had been ordained the day previous, and several others, met in the temple to attend to the ordinance of anointing and washing of feet, after which we waited upon the Lord in prayer and fasting until evening, when we partook of consecrated bread and wine, and tarried all night still waiting upon the Lord, and rejoicing in him. Some testified of having the visions of heaven opened to their view, others enjoyed the spirit of prophecy, and prophesied of many great and glorious things which were yet in the future, all of which have not yet come to pass. For our part we did not have any of those gifts bestowed upon us on that occasion, but we rejoiced greatly, and felt to “praise the name of the Lord of hosts, because he was restoring to the children of men in these days the ancient order of things, and opening the way for the gathering of Israel.” Thus, we wrote in our journal at the time.
Some brethren expressed themselves as being disappointed at not receiving more and greater manifestations of the power of God, but for our part, we had found the pearl of great price, and our soul was happy and contented, and we rejoiced greatly in the Lord. And we wish now to say to our friends and all the world, after these years of experience, that the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE is in this Mormon problem, and notwithstanding Satan has sought to overwhelm it with his machinations and corruptions, yet it will shine forth gloriously in a day to come, and prove a blessing to the pure and the good.
In the latter part of May began to make preparations to go on a mission to preach the gospel to our fellowmen, feeling the great importance of the salvation of precious souls.
On the 2nd day of June, 1836, took leave of wife and home, and with valise in hand, started out on foot, without purse or scrip (leaving the last penny at home), being only twenty years and eight days old, trusting solely on the Lord. Went to Richland County, Ohio, was absent from home five weeks. Held some twenty meetings and baptized four persons.
A remarkable case of healing which occurred on that mission is worthy of mention.
There was a brother in the Church by the name of Kelley, who had a son some ten or twelve years old, who had been subject to fits from early childhood. They would seize him at any moment, and were as apt to throw him into the fire or into the water, as any other place, so that it was unsafe to leave him alone. His parents wished to have him administered to according to the instruction given in the New Testament, by James, where he says, “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: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, . . .” James v:14, 15.
Elder George A. Smith, Joseph’s cousin, had come and was with us a few days, and we were together at the time. Before attending to the ordinance of anointing, we went by ourselves into a solitary place and had a season of solemn fervent prayer. We returned to the house, and calling the family to order, knelt before the Lord and had another season of prayer, when we arose and anointed the lad with olive oil, which had been consecrated and set apart for the purpose of anointing the sick, after which we laid our hands upon his head and asked our Heavenly Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be pleased to rebuke the evil spirit and heal the lad, according to the promise of our Savior, in Mark 16:18, and left him in the hands of the Lord. He was perfectly restored from that very hour, and troubled no more with that sore affliction. We saw his father over forty years later, who told us his son never had another fit after he was administered to that time, whereas, before, they were of much frequent occurrence that it was unsafe to leave him alone. That he was now residing in Nebraska, the head of a family.
Immediately upon our return home from the mission spoken of in our last article, we discovered a great change had taken place in the Church, especially with many of its leading official members. A spirit of speculation was poured out, and instead of that meek and lowly spirit which we felt had heretofore prevailed, a spirit of worldly ambition, and grasping after the things of the world, took its place. Some farms adjacent to Kirtland were purchased by some of the heads of the Church, mostly on credit, and laid out into city lots, until a large city was laid out on paper, and the price of the lots put up to an unreasonable amount, ranging from $100 to $200 each, according to location.
We were sorry to see this order of things, as we felt it would tend to evil instead of good. But having received an assurance of the truth of the gospel, and having an anxiety to warn our fellowmen to flee from the wrath to come, and make their calling and election sure, through obedience to the gospel, we therefore made arrangements to take a second mission.
When at home we worked in the printing office as usual. The hands in the office were the same as formerly, to wit: James Carrell, foreman, Don Carlos Smith (Joseph Smith’s youngest brother, who was president of the quorum of high priests), Solomon Wilber Denton, who was a member of the high priest’s quorum, and Samuel Brannan, who has since figured so extensively in San Francisco, California. We may have occasion to make mention of each of these hereafter.
A brother in the Church, by the name of Burgess, had come to Kirtland and stated that a large amount of money had been secreted in the cellar of a certain house in Salem, Massachusetts, which had belonged to a widow, and he thought he was the only person now living who had knowledge of it, or to the location of the house. We saw the brother, Burgess, but Don Carlos Smith told us with regard to the hidden treasure. His statement was credited by the Brethren, and steps were taken to try and secure the treasure, of which we will speak more fully in another place.
On the morning of the 25th of July, 1836, we left Kirtland to go on a mission to Oneida County, New York (our native county) to present the Book of Mormon, the restored gospel, to our relatives and friends in that country. We were accompanied by our companion as far as Cayuga County, New York, where her father resided, near the city of Auburn, where she remained visiting with her parents and friends, while we went farther east to prosecute our mission.
When we parted with our companion we left with her what money we had, as we felt that we were then starting out on the Lord’s errand, and that it was our bounden duty to go just as Jesus had commanded, without purse or scrip, having no fears but that the Lord would provide, by putting it in the hearts of the people to entertain us with necessary food and lodging, which, we are happy to say, was done.
We called first upon our youngest sister, Asenath, who was nearly two years our senior. (The writer being the youngest of twelve children, ten of whom were then living.) She was married to a Mr. John Brown, and living in Vienna township, Oneida County. They were pleased to see us. Spent three or four days with them, held a meeting in the schoolhouse in their neighborhood. Conversed freely with them and their neighbors upon the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the great work of the last days, until, to our great joy, our sister expressed faith in the same.
We now quote from our journal kept at the time.
“Tuesday, August 9, in the afternoon left there to go to Charles E. Tinker’s my brother-in-law, who married my sister Mary. They lived in West Leyden, Lewis County. Found them in good health, but who expressed themselves as feeling very badly because I had joined the Mormons, as they called them. Remained with them until Friday noon. They continued very much prejudiced, and really bitter in their feelings all the time, which so marred my enjoyment with them that I concluded I would go and see my brother, Joseph, who lived in the township of Boonville, Oneida County, some five miles from my sister’s, and if he should express the same bitterness of feeling, I would leave my testimony with them, and turn to strangers.
“Friday afternoon, August 12, 1836, went to my brother, Joseph’s. They seemed pleased to see me; we soon had a pleasant conversation on the subject of religion, in which he manifested a deep interest. In the evening, before retiring, he asked me to pray with them, which I did, and enjoyed a good degree of the Holy Spirit. After I finished my prayer he commenced praying, and thanked the Lord for the privilege of meeting with me once more, and above all, that the Lord had called me to preach the gospel. When he came to touch upon that, his soul seemed to be filled with the love of God, and he broke out with the exclamation: “I believe, yea I do believe that thou hast called my youngest brother to preach the gospel,” and it seemed as though language was too feeble to express and gratitude of his heart. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon us with power, and we had a joyful time together.”
“While my brother was thus at prayer I had an open vision. I saw a beautiful female, perfect in form and features, who seemed a little taller than the average female, standing erect, upon a platform elevated some eight or ten inches above the floor, but notwithstanding her beauty and perfect symmetry in form, she was full of sores from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet. I marvelled and wondered within myself, is it possible the Church is so corrupted.”
We remained on this mission some ten weeks, during which time we baptized our brother, Joseph L. Robinson, and our sister Asenath Brown, and three others and returned to our home in Kirtland, Ohio, in October.
On our return home we went to work in the printing office as heretofore.
We soon learned that four of the leading men of the Church had been to Salem, Massachusetts, in search of the hidden treasure spoken of by Brother Burgess, viz: Joseph Smith, Jr., Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery. They left home on the 25th of July, and returned in September. They were at Salem, when we had that vision of the woman full of sores, on the evening of the 12th of August, at my brother Joseph’s.
Joseph Smith, Jr., in his history, as published in the 15th volume of the Millennial Star, pages 821, and 822, says:
“On Monday afternoon, July 25th, in company with Sidney Rigdon, Brother Hyrum Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, I left Kirtland and at seven o’clock the same evening, we took passage on board the steamer Charles Townsend, S. Fox, master, at Fairport, and the next evening, about ten o’clock, we arrived at Buffalo, New York, and took lodgings at the `Farmer’s Hotel.’
From New York we continued our journey to Providence, on board a steamer; from thence to Boston, by steam cars, and arrived at Salem, Massachusetts, early in August, where we hired a house, and occupied the same during the month, teaching the people from house to house, and preaching publicly, as opportunity presented: visiting, occasionally, sections of the surrounding country, which are rich in the history of the Pilgrim Fathers of New England, in Indian warfare, religious superstition, bigotry, persecution, and learned ignorance.
I received the following–
Revelation, given at Salem, Massachusetts, August 6th, 1836.
I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey; notwithstanding your follies; I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion; and many people in this city whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality! therefore it is expedient that you should form acquaintance with men in this city, as you shall be led, and as it shall be given you; and it shall come to pass in due time, that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours. Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them. Concern not yourselves about Zion, for I will deal mercifully with her. Tarry in this place, and in the regions round about; and the place where it is my will that you should tarry, for the main, shall be signalized unto you by the peace and power of my Spirit, that shall flow unto you. This place you may obtain by hire, etc. And inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this city: for there are more treasures than one for you in this city; therefore be ye as wise as serpents and yet without sin, and I will order all things for your good, as fast as ye are able to receive them. Amen.
Thus I continued in Salem and vicinity until I returned to Kirtland, sometime in the month of September.”
We were informed that Brother Burgess met them in Salem [Massachusetts], evidently according to appointment, but time had wrought such a change that he could not for a certainty point out the house, and soon left. They however, found a house which they felt was the right one, and hired it. It is needless to say they failed to find that treasure, or the other gold and silver spoken of in the revelation.
We speak of these things with regret, but inasmuch as they occurred we feel it our duty to relate them, as also some of those things which transpired under our personal observation, soon after.
Failing to secure the Salem [Massachusetts] treasure, and no demand for city lots, with their debts pressing heavily upon them, it evidently seemed necessary that some ways and means should be devised to extricate themselves from their present embarrassments. To this end a banking institution was organized, called the “Kirtland Safety Society,” as we see by the following quotation from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as published on the 823rd page of the Millennial Star.
“On the 2nd of November the brethren at Kirtland drew up certain articles of agreement, preparatory to the organization of a banking institution, to be called the `Kirtland Safety Society.’
President O. [Oliver Cowdery] was delegated to Philadelphia to procure plates for the institution; and Elder O. [Orson] Hyde, to repair to Columbus, with a petition to the legislature of Ohio, for an act of incorporation, which was presented at an early period of their session, but because we were `Mormons,’ the legislature raised some frivolous excuse on which they refused to grant us those banking privileges they so freely granted to others. Thus Elder Hyde was compelled to return without accomplishing the object of his mission, while Elder Cowdery succeeded at a great expense in procuring the plates, and bringing them to Kirtland.”
As stated above, Orson Hyde failed in securing a Bank Charter, but Oliver Cowdery returned with Kirtland bank bills printed to amount, it was said, of two hundred thousand dollars, which would be worthless unless some way could be devised by which they could be used. To meet this emergency, the following action was had, which we quote from Joseph Smith’s history, as found on page 843, Millennial Star.
“Minutes of a meeting of the members of the `Kirtland Safety Society,’ held on the 2nd day of January, 1837.
At a special meeting of the Kirtland Safety Society, two-thirds of the members being present, S. [Sidney] Rigdon was called to the Chair, and W. [Warren] Parrish chosen Secretary.
The house was called to order, and the object of the meeting was explained by the chairman; which was–1st, to annul the old constitution, which was adopted by the Society, on the 2nd day of November 1826; which was, on motion, by the unanimous voice of the meeting, annulled. 2nd, to adopt articles of agreement, by which the `Kirtland Safety Society’ are to be governed.
After much discussion and investigation, the following Preamble and Articles of Agreement were adopted by the unanimous voice of the meeting. We, the undersigned subscribers, for the promotion of our temporal interests, and for the better management of our different occupations, which consist in agriculture, mechanical arts, and merchandizing, do hereby form ourselves into a firm or company for the before-mentioned objects, by the name of the `Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company,’ and for the proper management of said firm, we individually and jointly enter into and adopt the following articles of agreement.
Here followed sixteen articles of agreement of which the 14th article reads as follows:
Article 14th. “All notes given by said Society, shall be signed by the Treasurer and Secretary thereof, and we, the individual members of said firm, hereby hold ourselves bound for the redemption of all such notes.”
At the conclusion of the articles of agreement, Joseph Smith, Jr., proceeds to say:
“In connection with the above articles of agreement of the `Kirtland Safety Society,’ I published the following remarks, to all who were preparing themselves, and appointing their wise men, for the purpose of building up Zion and her stakes, in the January Number of the Messenger and Advocate–”
“It is wisdom, according to the mind of the Holy Spirit, that you should call at Kirtland, and receive counsel and instruction upon those principles that are necessary to further the great work of the Lord, and to establish the children of the kingdom, according to the oracles of God, as they are had among us; and further, we invite the brethren from abroad, to call on us, and take stock in our `Safety Society;’ and we would remind them also of the sayings of Isaiah, contained in the 60th chapter, and more particularly the 9th and 17th verses, which are as follows- -`Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold (not their bank notes) with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. . . . For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.’ Also 62nd chapter, 1st verse–`For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.’ J. SMITH, JR.”
Joseph Smith, Jr., was elected treasurer, and Sidney Rigdon was elected secretary.
In accordance with the foregoing arrangements, quite a large number of the bills were brought into the printing office, and the word anti, in very fine type, was printed before the word bank, and the syllable, ing, also in fine type, was printed after the word bank, thus making it read, “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Co.,” in which form the bills were signed by Joseph Smith, Jr., treasurer, and Sidney Rigdon, secretary, and put into circulation as bank bills.
We wish our readers to bear in mind that these things have nothing to do with the gospel, but they seem to show us the weakness of poor human nature, and how easily men can be led astray when they cease to listen to the counsel of God, but are left to follow the dictates of their own will and carnal desires. The fruit of such conduct is exceedingly bitter, and the results most disastrous, as we will see further on.
We do not believe the members of the Church generally knew the object of those brethren visiting Salem, [Massachusetts] and we did not know of the revelation given at Salem until recently, when we saw it in the Millennial Star.
While these temporal matters, spoken of in our last article, were being attended to by some, others did not neglect the spiritual things of the Church.
There was a family by the name of Newcombe, residing about one mile south of the temple in Kirtland. His wife’s brother, (a man we should judge about thirty years of age) was a raving maniac of the most violent kind. He had to be kept chained in an outhouse by himself, and clothed with strong, coarse clothing, for when he could, he would tear his clothing from him. He would also rave and rage exceedingly whenever any person came near him excepting his sister, Mrs. Newcombe, she had control over him. We saw him different times, but it was a distressing sight.
In the latter part of November or in December, 1836, several brethren took his case in hand, and went to Brother Newcombe’s and commenced to fast and pray for power over the evil spirit, and deliverance for the man from his power. Joseph Smith, Sen. (father of Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of the Book of Mormon), had charge, assisted by Brethren John P. Green, Oliver Granger, and others. They continued in fasting and prayer for three days and nights, with occasionally, one at a time, taking a little respite, when Brother [Joseph] Smith, Sen., told them to bring the man into the room where they were, which they did. They laid their hands upon him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and rebuked the evil spirit by which he had been bound, when the man wilted down, and became as a little child. Brother Joseph Smith, Sen., ordered them to take the chains from off him. He was healed, to the great joy of all, and they felt to render thanksgiving and praise to our Heavenly Father, to whom be glory and honor forever and ever, amen.
The man continued sane and well, and during the winter attended church with the family at different times. It was customary in the Church in those days to give an invitation and opportunity for anyone who wished to unite with the Church by baptism, to make it manifest by rising to their feet. This invitation was given at the close of the morning sermon each Sunday. One Sunday in March, 1837, this man who had been healed, sat next to me at my right hand in the same pew with me, in the temple at meeting, and when the invitation for baptism was given out, he arose, and was afterwards baptized.
During the winter we assisted in printing the second edition of the Book of Mormon.
In the early spring, a singular circumstance transpired. A brother from Canada, who was stopping at Brother Truman O. Angel’s [Angell], became very much exercised, spiritually, and fasted and prayed, as we were told, for several days, when one morning, just after daylight he came out of the house and passed along near where we lived, hallooing at the top of his voice, warning the people and the nations to repent and prepare for the things which were coming upon the earth. The people came running together to see what was the matter, thinking perhaps there might be a house on fire. We remember of seeing Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., come in haste with a water bucket in his hand, and when he learned the cause of the outcry, turned back, and walking with his head down, seemed to be in deep thought, and have a heavy heart, but Brigham Young came with a rawhide whip, and whipped the man back into the house.
Heretofore there had been some individual church trials, which would naturally occur among a people as numerous as the Church had become, and some individuals had denied the faith. There had not been any general dissension however, but a universal oneness seemed to prevail until after the banking institution had been established.
During the winter and spring of 1837, a great split occurred between a number of the leading elders of the Church. Frederick G. Williams, one of the First Presidency, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Luke and Lyman E. Johnson, Parley P. Pratt, Wm. [William] E. McLellin, John F. Boynton (the last five named were members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles), Roger Orton, one of the Seventy, and a number of others, including S. Wilbur Denton, printer, a high priest, who testified of having seen a great vision, during the time of the washings and anointings the preceding March; these all objected to the course being pursued by Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., and the Church, but we asked no particulars with regard to the matter, thinking that all things would be reconciled in a short time, and church matters move along as heretofore. One thing we felt sure of; the gospel was true, and that truth and righteousness would ultimately prevail, the Saints be gathered, Zion redeemed and established in everlasting strength; and we believed the Church was the medium through which this glorious result would be brought about; therefore looked upon all who opposed or who did not agree with Joseph Smith [Jr.], and the Church, as weak in the faith, or dissenters from the faith. But the disaffection continued and, if anything, grew stronger.
Early in April we began to settle our affairs preparatory to moving to Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, where the members of the Church were gathering.
On the morning of the 17th of April, 1837, we took leave of our friends at Kirtland, Ohio, and started on our journey for Missouri. Travelled by team to Wellsville, a town on the Ohio River, where we took passage on a steamer for St. Louis, where we changed to a Missouri River steamer and landed at Camden, Ray County, Missouri, which is the nearest landing to Far West, forty miles distant.
Arrived at Far West about the 7th of May, where we found several of our Kirtland neighbors and brethren who had preceded us.
The town had been laid out and commenced to be settled only the August before our arrival, consequently was only about nine months old, yet it already contained several hundred inhabitants. It was settled almost exclusively by members of the Church.
The division in the Church extended to Missouri. Several of the brethren who were disaffected with Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., were living in Far West, but we adhered to him, feeling that it was necessary to do so in order to retain a standing in the Church, and knowing the gospel to be true, we prized a standing in the Church as above price, besides, we had a dream soon after reaching Far West which helped settle the matter in our mind.
We dreamed we was a long piece of hewed timber apparently about fourteen inches square, elevated upon blocks the right height for the master workman to lay off the framework, and Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., standing by it with a square and scratch awl in his hands laying out the work. After receiving this dream we felt confirmed in our desire to remain with and work for the Church, notwithstanding our better judgment taught us the city lot speculation and bank business was contrary to the spirit of the gospel. Darkness and confusion followed these transactions as will be seen by the following proceedings of the high council, which we copy from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as published in the Millennial Star, volume 16, page 10, as follows:
[Ebenezer Robinson cites the minutes of a high council meeting in Kirtland, May 29, 1837, in which David Whitmer, Frederick G. Williams, Lyman Johnson, Parley P. Pratt and Warren Parrish were charged with a complaint against their conduct. The meeting was “dispersed in confusion” when the presiding officers determined they could not try the case.]
These proceedings were had in a little over one month after we left Kirtland.
We present these things to show that the course pursued by Joseph Smith, Jr., and some of the heads of the Church was contrary to the clear and express command of the Lord, and that David Whitmer and others had good reason for entering their protest, and withholding their influence from such an order of things.
The foregoing action of the high council at Kirtland clearly shows that they were devoid of the Spirit of the Lord, consequently any act of theirs, while in that condition, could not affect the spiritual standing of any person whom they might profess to deal with.
The high council at Far West seemed to be in a similar condition, judging from the following proceedings had by them.
We quote from the history of Joseph Smith, [Jr.], as published in the 16th volume Millennial Star, commencing on the 115th page.
[Ebenezer Robinson here cites “minutes of the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole Church in Zion” February 5, 1838, moderated by Thomas B. Marsh, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and president of the high council in Missouri. The council brought charges against the Presidency of the Church in Missouri: David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and William W. Phelps. In particular, John Whitmer and Phelps were charged with selling their lands in Jackson County. A vote was called for, the majority disfavoring the Presidency and a minority “eight or ten . . . only wished them to continue in office a little longer, or until Joseph Smith, Junior, came up.” On March 10, 1838, William W. Phelps and John Whitmer were excommunicated by the council and the congregation. Marcellus Cowdery then arose to claim that the tribunal was illegal and read a letter addressed to Thomas B. Marsh by the Whitmers and Phelps in which they too asserted that the high council and the Church [members] assembled formed an illegal tribunal with no jurisdiction over their presidency. Because Marcellus Cowdery read this letter in public before delivering it to the addressee (Marsh), which was considered an insult, he was disfellowshipped. History of the Church (HC) 3:3-5, 6-8.]
In our last article we gave the proceedings of the high council in Kirtland, Ohio, that were had on the 29th of May, 1837, and also of the high council of the Church in Far West, Missouri, on the 10th of March, 1838; at both of those places David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery took part. They moved from Ohio to Missouri in the summer or fall of 1837.
On the 7th of November 1837, at a general assembly of the Church at Far West, David Whitmer was chosen President of the Church in Missouri (a place he had formerly filled, before he went to Kirtland to be present at the dedication of the temple), and John Whitmer and W. [William] W. Phelps were chosen to be his counsellors; these three to constitute the three Presidents of the Church in Zion, as it was called, and Oliver Cowdery was chosen clerk.
Notwithstanding, these men were appointed to these positions yet the disaffection continued, until “at a meeting of the high council, the bishop and his council, February 10th, 1838, it was moved, seconded and carried, that Oliver Cowdery, W. [William] W. Phelps and John Whitmer stand no longer as chairman and clerk to sign licenses.” And on the 10th of March, further action was had in the cases of Presidents Phelps and John Whitmer, as given on the 120th page of the August Number of THE RETURN.
On the 14th of March, 1838, Joseph Smith, Jr., arrived at Far West, with his family, and on the 4th of April Sidney Rigdon also arrived with his family.
Joseph Smith, Jr., was held in very high esteem by the masses of the people, members of the Church, and looked upon as being invested with powers and qualifications far above all other men, being, as they thought, a great Prophet of God, like unto Moses, and that like Elisha, he could tell their actions, and almost their thoughts, when absent from them. They rejoiced to think they were permitted to live to see the day when prophets and apostles were restored to the earth again, therefore there was great rejoicing when he arrived among them, as will be seen by the following extract from a letter written by him after his arrival, copied from page 130, 16th volume Millennial Star. “Far West, March 29th, 1838.
To the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kirtland. Dear and well-beloved brethren–Through the grace and mercy of our God, after a long and tedious journey of two months and one day, I and my family arrived safe in the city of Far West, having been met at Huntsville, one hundred and twenty miles from the place, by my brethren with teams and money, to forward us on our journey. When within eight miles of the city of Far West, we were met by an escort of brethren from the city, vis: Thomas B. Marsh, John Corrill, Elias Higbee, and several others of the faithful of the west, who received us with open arms and warm hearts, and welcomed us to the bosom of their society. On our arrival in the city we were greeted on every hand by the Saints, who bid us welcome to the land of their inheritance.”
We now quote from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as found on page 131 of the 16th volume Millennial Star.
“Far West, April 6th, 1838.
Agreeable to a resolution passed by the High Council of Zion, March 3rd, 1838, the Saints in Missouri assembled in this place, to celebrate the anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to transact church business, Joseph Smith, Junior, and Sidney Rigdon presiding.
The meeting was opened by singing, and prayer by David W. Patten, after which President Smith, Junior, read the order of the day. . . .
The meeting then proceeded to business. George Morey was appointed Sexton, and Dimick Huntington, assistant; John Corrill and Elias Higbee, Historians; George W. Robinson, General Church Recorder, and Clerk to the First Presidency; Ebenezer Robinson, Church Clerk and Recorder for Far West, and Clerk of the High Council; Thomas B. Marsh, President pro tempore of the Church in Zion, and David W. Patten and Brigham Young, his assistant Presidents.
After one hour’s adjournment, meeting again opened by David W. Patten. The bread and wine were administered, and ninety-five infants were blessed.
Joseph Smith, Junior, President. E. [Ebenezer] Robinson, Clerk.”
We have preserved, and have before us at the present writing, the original minutes of the above meeting as taken down at the time.
It will be seen, that at this meeting Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten and Brigham Young were appointed presidents over the Church in Missouri, although David Whitmer still retained his membership in the Church, and no charge had been preferred against him except at Kirtland, when the high council broke up in confusion. He had been spoken against in the meeting at Far West, on the 5th of February, by Elder George M. Hinkle, in these words: “David Whitmer’s wrong in persisting in the use of tea, coffee and tobacco,” as will be seen by reference to the proceedings of that meeting as published on page 118 of the August number of THE RETURN. On that occasion the three presidents (David and John Whitmer and Phelps), were voted against, which proceeding, evidently, was illegal. Of its legality, however, we may speak more fully hereafter.
John Whitmer had been appointed by revelation to write and keep a regular history, and record of the Church, as will be seen by the following:
“Revelation to Joseph Smith, Jr., and John Whitmer, given March, 1831.
1. Behold it is expedient in me that my servant John should write and keep a regular history, and assist you, my servant Joseph, in transcribing all things which shall be given you, until he is called to further duties. Again, verily I say unto you, that he can also lift up his voice in meetings, whenever it shall be expedient. 2. And again, I say unto you, that it shall be appointed unto him to keep the Church record and history continually, for Oliver Cowdery I have appointed to another office. Wherefore it shall be given him, inasmuch as he is faithful, by the Comforter, to write these things. Even so. Amen.”
In conformity with the above command and appointment, he had kept the Church history and record, but now it was desirable to have possession of them but he refused to give them up whereupon the following remarkable letter was sent to him, which we copy from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as found on page 133 of the Millennial Star, in which the writers seemed to consider their judgment superior to that expressed in the foregoing revelation.
“Mr. J. [John] Whitmer: Sir: We were desirous of honoring you by giving publicity to your notes on the history of the Church of Latter-day Saints after making such corrections as we thought would be necessary, knowing your incompetency as a historian, that writings coming from your pen, could not be put to press without correcting them, or else the Church must suffer reproach. Indeed, sir, we never supposed you capable of writing a history but were willing to let it come out under your name, notwithstanding it would really not be yours but ours. We are still willing to honor you, if you can be made to know your own interest, and give up your notes, so that they can be corrected and made fit for the press; but if not, we have all the materials for another, which we shall commence this week to write.”
Your obedient servants, JOSEPH SMITH, Jr.
Presidents of the whole Church of Latter-day Saints
Attest. E. [Ebenezer] ROBINSON, Clerk
No attention was paid to the foregoing letter by John Whitmer, as, perhaps, he thought he would not be justified in thus surrendering the work which had been assigned him by revelation. The record was subsequently obtained, however, and brought to our house, where we copied the entire record into another book, assisted a part of the time, by Dr. Levi Richards.
On the 11th of April charges were preferred against Oliver Cowdery, and his trial came off on the 12th; and on the 13th charges were preferred against David Whitmer and Lyman (E.) Johnson, and their trial was had the same day, as will be seen by the following quotation from page 133, 16th volume Millennial Star.”
“April 13th, the following charges were preferred against David Whitmer, before the high council at Far West, in council assembled:
1st. For not observing the Word of Wisdom.
2nd. For unchristian-like conduct in neglecting to attend meetings, in uniting with and possessing the same spirit as the dissenters.
3rd. In writing letters to the dissenters in Kirtland, unfavorable to the cause, and to the character of Joseph Smith, Junior.
4th. In neglecting the duties of his calling, and separating himself from the Church while he had a name among us.
5th. For signing himself President of the Church of Christ, after he had been cut off from the Presidency, in an insulting letter to the high council.
After reading the above charges, together with a letter sent to the president of said council (a copy of which may be found in Far West Record, Book A), the council considered the charges sustained, and consequently considered him (David Whitmer) no longer a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The same day three charges were preferred against Lyman E. Johnson which were read, together with a letter from him, in answer to the one recorded in Far West Record, Book A. The charges were sustained and he was cut off from the Church.”
The above is the only trial ever had in David Whitmer’s case. The character of the charges speak for themselves. If a failure to keep the Word of Wisdom was a test of fellowship at the present day, how many members in all churches of the Latter-day Saints can be found, who use neither tea, coffee or tobacco? But notice, the council do not say they either expel or cut David Whitmer off, but, “the council considered the charges sustained, and consequently considered him (David Whitmer) no longer a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” There is no account that we can find, of the Church ever lifting their hands against him, which is required to be done by the law.
That these trials and proceedings were illegal, and without spiritual force or virtue, is evident from the manner they were conducted.
In the first place, there is no record of their being labored with as the law of Christ demands, which says:
“Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.–Mat. 18:15, 16, 17.
That the above is the law for the Church, we quote from the book of Doctrine and Covenants.
“Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law, to govern my church; and he that doeth according to these things, shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned, if he continues.”–D&C 42:16.
The only mention made of any attempt to labor with these men, was made in the meeting on the 5th of February, more than two months before their trial.
The practice of appointing a committee to go and visit several men as a body, does not comply with the commandment of our Savior, as we understand it. Neither can a trial be considered legal where the court are prejudiced, and have expressed an opinion, as had the presidents and counsellors done in the case of these men. See the statements made by them in the meeting of February 5, as found on the 118th page of the August Number of THE RETURN. Therefore any action taken against David Whitmer, or others, dictated by such an influence and spirit, could not, in the least, affect their spiritual standing before the Lord.
Thus we are fully convinced, from a careful examination of the records, and our personal knowledge of the proceedings, that David Whitmer never was legally expelled from the Church.
Had these prosecutions of David Whitmer and others satisfied the authorities and members of the Church, we would not be called upon to record other scenes enacted, and outrages inflicted upon them, which would disgrace a barbarous people, to say nothing of would-be Saints; but we leave the unpleasant recital until we reach it in the regular course of events.
In the meantime, that our readers may have as correct an idea of the situation of affairs in the Church as possible, we make further quotations from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., giving some of the revelations which he received those days, as found on page 147, 16th volume Millennial Star,” wherein he says: [See Doctrine and Covenants, Sections 114 and 115.]
“The next day, after receiving the above temple revelation, Joseph Smith, Jr., commenced writing the Church history, and continued to write from time to time, besides attending to other duties as will be seen by the following extracts from his history.–Millennial Star, pages 148-51.
[On May 12, 1838, Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sidney Rigdon went before the high council to appeal for financial assistance in remuneration for their service to the Church “being reduced, as it were, to beggary” as a result. The council, upon considering their request, instructed the bishop to provide for each of them an eighty-acre lot of Church property, and appointed a committee of three to work out with Presidents Smith and Rigdon proper remuneration, “not for preaching, or for receiving the word of God by revelation, neither for instructing the Saints in righteousness, but for services rendered in the printing establishment, in translating the ancient records, etc.” HC 3:25, 26-27, 31-32.]
The above-named committee reported to the high council, at a subsequent meeting, but the sum agreed upon is left blank in the history, as printed. The amount they asked for was ELEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS each per annum.
The question was warmly discussed by the members of the council until near sundown. George M. Hinkle bitterly opposed it, as the Church had always been opposed to a salaried ministry. A majority of the council, however, favored the measure, so that when the vote was called, eleven voted for it, and one against it. But when it was noised abroad that the council had taken such a step, the members of the Church, almost to a man, lifted their voices against it. The expression of disapprobation was so strong and emphatic that at the next meeting of the high council the resolution voting them a salary, was rescinded.
We were present, and acted as clerk of the council at both meetings, therefore know whereof we affirm.
A few days after the high council refused to give a salary to Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sidney Rigdon, the TITHING revelation of July 8, 1838, was given, in which the poor are not mentioned. But more on this subject hereafter. We now give further quotations from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., in which he says: [This part of the history (May 18-19, 1838) relates to Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and other brethren travelling north of Far West for the purpose of “. . . laying off a Stake of Zion; . . .” Part of this country, which the brethren called Spring Hill was revealed to be Adam-ondi-Ahman. See D&C 116, HC 3:34-35.]–Millennial Star, page 152, 16th volume.
It is with a sorrowful heart that we recount the scenes enacted by the Church in Far West, Missouri, in June and July, 1838.
After having gone through with the form of a trial by the high council, in which the cases of David and John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, W. [William] W. Phelps, and L. [Lyman] E. Johnson were disposed of, and Joseph Smith, [Jr.], and Sidney Rigdon had written that unfeeling letter to John Whitmer, unbecoming gentlemen, much less professed Saints, and after having that remarkable revelation stating that Far West was holy ground, (as published in the August and September numbers of THE RETURN), a society was organized by the Church members, at first called, “The Daughter of Zion,” afterwards, “Danites,” (or from which came the secret order called “Danites”) to be governed by the following purported Bill of Rights and Articles of organization: BILL OF RIGHTS OF THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, AND ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION.
“Whereas, in all bodies laws are necessary for the permanent safety and well-being of society, we, the members of the society of the Daughter of Zion, do agree to regulate ourselves under such laws as in righteousness shall be deemed necessary for the preservation of our holy religion and of our most sacred rights, and the rights of our wives and children. But to be explicit on the subject, it is especially our object to support and defend the rights conferred on us by our venerable sires, who purchased them with the pledges of their lives and fortunes and sacred honors. And now to prove ourselves worthy of the liberty conferred on us by them in the providence of God, we do agree to be governed by such laws as shall perpetuate these high privileges of which we know ourselves to be the rightful possessors, and of which privileges wicked and designing men have tried to deprive us by all manner of evil, and that purely in consequence of the tenacity we have manifested in the discharge of our duty towards our God, who had given us these rights and privileges, and a right in common with others, to dwell on this land. But we not having the privileges of others allowed unto us, have determined like unto our fathers, to resist tyranny, whether it be in kings or in people. It is all alike unto us, our rights we must have and our rights we shall have in the name of Israel’s God.
ARTICLE 1st. All power belongs originally and legitimately to the people, and they have a right to dispose of it as they shall deem fit. But as it is inconvenient and impossible to convince the people in all cases, the legislative powers have been given by them from time to time, into the hands of a representation composed of delegates from the people themselves. This is and has been the law in both civil and religious bodies and is the true principle. ARTICLE 2nd. The executive power shall be vested in the President of the whole Church and his counsellors. ARTICLE 3rd. The legislative powers shall reside in the President and his counsellors, together with the generals and colonels of the society. By them all laws shall be made regulating the society. ARTICLE 4th. All offices shall be during the life and good behavior, or to be regulated by the law of God. ARTICLE 5th. The society reserves the power of electing all its officers with the exception of the aides and clerks which the officers may need in the various stations. The nomination to go from the Presidency to his second, and from the second to the third in rank, and so down through all the various grades, branch or department retains the power of electing its own particular officers. ARTICLE 6th. Punishment shall be administered to the guilty in accordance to the offense, and no member shall be punished without law, or by any others than those appointed by law for that purpose. The legislature shall have power to make laws regulating punishments as in their judgment shall be wisdom and righteousness. ARTICLE 7th. There shall [be] a secretary whose business it shall be to keep all the legislative records of the society, and also to keep a register of the names of the members of the society, also the rank of the officers. He shall also communicate the laws to the generals, as directed by laws made for the regulation of such business by the legislature. ARTICLE 8th. All officers shall be subject to the commands of the Captain General given through the secretary of war. And so all officers shall be subject to their superiors in rank, according to laws made for that purpose.”
Having thus established a military organization within the Church, and being exceedingly zealous, were ready to carry out any measure directed, and being determined to rid the community of the presence of dissenters, therefore, a manifesto was issued, contrary to both the laws of God and the laws of the land, ordering peaceable citizens from their homes, and driving them out of the country, compelling them to flee for their lives.
The following is the first part of the manifesto, or order, notifying the parties to leave the county within three days, or suffer the consequences:
“Far West, June, 1838.
To Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps and Lyman E. Johnson. Greetings:
Whereas, the citizens of Caldwell County have borne with the abuses received from you at different times and on different occasions until it is no longer to be endured, neither will they endure it any longer, having exhausted all the patience they have. We have borne long and suffered incredibly, but we will bear nor suffer any longer, and the decree has gone forth from our hearts and shall not return unto us void. Neither think, gentlemen, in so doing we are trifling with either you or ourselves for we are not.
There are no threats from you, no fear of losing our lives by you, or anything you can say or do will restrain us, for out of the county you shall go and no power shall save you, and you shall have three days after you receive this our communication to you, including twenty-four hours in each day for you to depart with your families peaceably, which you may do undisturbed by any person. But in that time, if you do not depart, we will use the means in our power to cause you to depart, for go you shall.
We will have no more promises to reform as you have already made, and in every instance violated your promise and regarded not the covenant which you had made, but put both it and us at defiance.
We have solemnly warned you, and that in the most determined manner, that if you did not cease that course of wanton abuse of the citizens of this county, that vengeance would overtake you sooner or later, and that when it did come it would be as furious as the mountain torrent and as terrible as the beating tempest. But you have affected to despise our warnings and to pass them off with a sneer, a grin or a threat, and still pursued your former course.
Vengeance sleeps not neither doth it slumber; and unless you heed us this time, and attend to our request, it will overtake you at an hour when you do not expect it and at a day when you do not look for it, and for you there shall be no escape; for there is but one decree for you which is, depart, depart, or else a more fatal calamity shall befall you.”
The above manifesto was signed by eighty-three determined men. Among the names we recognize some of the members of the high council, and others holding high positions in the Church, including that of Hyrum Smith, one of the First Presidency.
The parties heeded the warning, and left in haste late one afternoon in June, a detailed account of which we give as follows: taken from the ninth page of the Ensign of Liberty, published by W. [William] E. McLellin in March 1847.
“All things seemed to admonish them they only could have safety in flight, consequently near sunset, David [Whitmer], Oliver [Cowdery], John [Whitmer] and Lyman [E. Johnson], bid farewell to their youthful wives, and their little children, their homes and firesides, and with heavy hearts, and solemn step they left that people who had been enlightened and brought together, to a great extent, by their labors and `testimony,’ but alas! who had now fallen, and become their bitterest enemies, and high-handed persecutors. After these men, the `witnesses of truth,’ had taken affectionate leave of their innocent families, resigning them into the hands of the Father of lights, they left `the city of their homes’ and began to wend their way across those extensive prairies lying south of Far West.
But the darkness of night soon coming on, and being comparative strangers to the way, they directly lost their path. Pensive, mournful and solemn, see them wander they know not where. Ah! see that man who sat day after day, week after week, and month after month, and wrote the pages of the Book of Mormon, from the mouth of Joseph Smith, Jr., as he translated by the inspiration of heaven, the words of the holy prophets, who lived and wrote upon this beloved American continent. Yes, see him and his partners in tribulation, wander as the prophets of old; because they had borne a faithful testimony against wickedness in high places.
But onward see those men wander until the light of a new day broke in upon that part of the earth, and meeting a stranger he points them to the road that will lead them to an old and tried friend’s, who lived about twenty-five miles from Far West. With joy mixed with sorrow, he received them. Here they found a home from the `pitiless storm,’ and remained and refreshed themselves for some days, until their friends had succeeded in bringing to them their families.”
But onward see those men wander until the light of a new day broke in upon that part of the earth, and meeting a stranger he points them to the road that will lead them to an old and tried friend’s, who lived about twenty-five miles from Far West. With joy mixed with sorrow, he received them. Here they found a home from the `pitiless storm,’ and remained and refreshed themselves for some days, until their friends had succeeded in bringing to them their families.”
Thus they escaped with their lives, having wandered all night without food or shelter, having been driven from their homes by professing SAINTS.
The Church, having entered into an independent organization, and taken the law into their own hands, and having driven out these men, (three of whom were witnesses to the Book of Mormon) and having been commanded by revelation to commence building the temple on the 4th of July, and intending to make a formal Declaration of Independence, as did our forefathers, extensive preparations were made to have a grand celebration on that day.
A tall liberty pole was raised on which floated the “stars and stripes.” A stand was erected for the officers and orator of the day, large enough also to seat several distinguished visitors. An excavation had been made the year previous, for the temple, on the public square, and four large stones had been prepared for cornerstones, which were to be laid on that day. Of this celebration Joseph Smith, Jr., in his history, speaks as follows, on page 181, 16th volume Millennial Star.
“July 4th was spent in celebrating the declaration of independence on the United States of America, and also in the Saints making a declaration of independence from all mobs and persecutions which have been inflicted upon them time after time, until they could bear it no longer; also in laying the cornerstones of the house of the Lord, agreeable to the commandment of the Lord unto us, given April 26, 1838.
Joseph Smith, Junior, was president of the day; Hyrum Smith, vice president; Sidney Rigdon, orator; Reynold [Reynolds] Cahoon, chief marshall; and George W. Robinson, clerk.
This order of the day was splendid. The procession commenced forming at 10 o’clock, a.m., in the following order: first, the infantry; second, the patriarchs of the Church; the president, vice president, and orator; the twelve presidents of the stake, and high council; bishop and council; architects, ladies and gentlemen, and the calvary in rear.”
After the cornerstones were laid President Rigdon delivered the oration, from which we make the following extract:
“It is not because we cannot, if we were so disposed, enjoy both the honors and flatteries of the world, but we have voluntarily offered them in sacrifice, and the riches of the world also, for a more durable substance. Our God has promised us a reward of eternal inheritance, and we have believed his promise, and though we wade through great tribulation, we are in nothing discouraged, for we know he that has promised is faithful. The promise is sure, and the reward is certain. It is because of this, that we have taken the spoiling of our goods. Our cheeks have been given to the smiters, and our heads to those who have plucked off the hair. We have not only when smitten on one cheek turned the other, but we have done it again and again, until we are wearied of being smitten, and tired of being trampled upon. We have proved the world with kindness, we have suffered their abuse without cause, with patience, and have endured without resentment, until this day, and still their persecutions and violence does not cease. But from this day and this hour, we will suffer it no more.
We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempt it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. Remember it then all MEN.
We will never be the aggressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own rights, and are willing that all others shall enjoy theirs.
No man shall be at liberty to come into our streets, to threaten us with mobs, for if he does, he shall atone for it before he leaves the place, neither shall he be at liberty to vilify and slander any of us, for suffer it we will not in this place.
We therefore take all men to record this day, that we proclaim our liberty on this day, as did our fathers. And we pledge this day to one another, our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honors, to be delivered from the persecutions which we have had to endure, for the last nine years, or nearly that. Neither will we indulge any man, or set of men, in instituting vexatious lawsuits against us to cheat us out of our just rights, if they attempt it we say woe be unto them.
We this day then proclaim ourselves free, with a purpose and a determination, that never can be broken, “no, never! no never!! NO NEVER!!!”
At the conclusion of the oration the vast multitude shouted, Hosanna! Hosanna!! Hosanna!!! three times, in confirmation of the declaration of independence made by the speaker. But to show the displeasure of our Heavenly Father, as we verily believe, a few days after, a thunderstorm arose, and passing over the place, a shaft of lightning struck the liberty pole and rived it into more than a thousand atoms. This struck dismay into the hearts of some, but we were told at the time, that Joseph Smith, Jr., walked over the splinters and prophesied that as he “walked over these splinters, so we will trample our enemies under our feet.” This gave encouragement to the fearful and timid.
Is it possible, we ask, that the acts of such a people, under such influences, and dictated by such a spirit, could affect the spiritual standing of any but themselves? We answer, No.
We think we have clearly shown from the records, that the action taken by the Church, in relation to David Whitmer, was illegal, and a violation of both the law of God and the law of the land, therefore, could not affect his spiritual standing in the least degree, but he retained his priesthood in full force and virtue, which he held equal with Joseph Smith, Jr., according to the book of Doctrine and Covenants, for it says expressly: “Wherefore you [David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris] have received the same POWER, and the same FAITH, and the same GIFT like unto him;” [Joseph Smith, Jr.]–D&C 15:3. We now dismiss that part of our subject and turn to another.
It will be remembered that on page 137 of the September number of THE RETURN, we gave an account of the high council at Far West, in June, rescinding the vote which had previously passed, granting a salary to Presidents Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sidney Rigdon, which left them without a salary. Therefore, four days after their declaration of independence, Joseph Smith, Jr., inquired of the Lord “how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a tithing?” notwithstanding it was already stated in a revelation in the book of Doctrine and Covenants what the Lord required of his people for a tithing, and he received the following: [D&C 106]. [See D&C 119.]
There is no mention made of the poor in this revelation, and being personally acquainted with the circumstances under which it was given, we never could feel that the Lord ever gave it for the good of his people, neither can we believe it after seeing its practical workings for fifty years. We verily believe, if the Lord had anything to do with it, it was upon the principle set forth in the 14th chapter of Ezekiel; they evidently had “set up an idol in their hearts,” and the Lord answered them “according to their idols.”
We feel sure that had the high council at Far West, carried out the resolution, and paid Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sidney Rigdon the salary they asked for, of eleven hundred dollars each per year, we would never have seen this tithing revelation. The Church had been in existence over eight years, and had seen its purest, happiest days before that was given.
That was not the only revelation given on that day, as we learn by reference to the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., for on pages 183-4 of the Millennial Star, he says: [See D&C 117 and 118.]
The members of the Church soon began to bring in their surplus property, as tithing, when, on the 18th of July, the following revelation was received:
“Revelation given July 18, 1838, making known the disposition of the properties tithed as named in the revelation of July 8.
Verily, thus saith the Lord, the time has now come that it shall be disposed of by a council composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council; and by my high council; and by mine own voice unto them, saith the Lord. Even so. Amen.”
On July 26, the following disposition of the property was ordered by the council.–Millennial Star, page 204, 16th volume.
“Thursday 26th. The First Presidency, high council, and bishop’s courts assembled at Far West, to dispose of the public properties of the Church in the hands of the bishop, many of the brethren having consecrated their surplus property according to the revelations.
It was agreed that the First Presidency should keep all their properties that they could dispose of to advantage, for their support, and the remainder to be put into the hands of the bishop or bishops, according to the commandment.”
We make further quotations from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., from the fact that we were personally acquainted with, and present during many of the scenes spoken of, therefore, the relation of them here answers a threefold purpose.
First. They relate incidents in our personal experience, a knowledge of which no man can defraud us.
Second. They give our readers a better idea of the true condition of things in the Church in those days, than they could have without a relation of those scenes.
Third. They will enable the reader to more readily judge of the spirit which actuated the First Presidency in the part they took in these transactions, they themselves being witnesses.
At the council held on the 26th of July, 1838, as given on page 151, in the October Number of THE RETURN, the following resolutions were passed:
“Moved, seconded, and carried unanimously–
1st. That the First Presidency shall have their expenses defrayed in going to and from Adam-ondi-Ahman, equally by the bishop of each place.
2nd. That all the travelling expenses of the First Presidency shall be defrayed.
3rd. That the bishop be authorized to pay orders coming from the East, inasmuch as they will consecrate liberally, but this is to be done under the inspection of the First Presidency.
4th. That the First Presidency shall have the prerogative to say to the bishop, whose orders shall or may be paid by him in this place, or in his jurisdiction.”
Thus the First Presidency were to have their travelling expenses paid, in addition to the eighty acres of land adjoining the city plat, given to each, and the surplus tithing given them; also they reserved the right and prerogative to dictate to the bishop who, of their eastern creditors, he should pay, “inasmuch as they, [the eastern people,] consecrate freely” to the Church funds. Consecration is not tithing. We further quote from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as found on page 204, 16th volume Millennial Star. [Ebenezer Robinson cites Joseph Smith’s history for July 28 to 31, 1838. HC 3:48.]
The Church having procured a press and type, the 3rd Number of the Elders’ Journal was printed at Far West, in this month of July. (Two numbers had been printed at Kirtland, Ohio, before the printing office was burned there.) Joseph Smith, Jr., editor, Thomas B. Marsh publisher, who employed the writer hereof as printer. We printed four numbers during the summer, when we were compelled to desist on account of the mob, and the press was taken down and the type hastily boxed and buried, in the night, and a haystack put over it.
It will be remembered with what assurance the declaration of independence was made on the 4th of July, in which it is declared:
“That mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us; for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. Remember it all MEN.”–S. [Sidney] Rigdon’s oration.
Let it be distinctly understood that President [Sidney] Rigdon was not alone responsible for the sentiment expressed in his oration, as that was a carefully prepared document, previously written, and well understood by the First Presidency, but Elder Rigdon was the mouthpiece to deliver it, as he was a natural orator, and his delivery was powerful and effective.
Several Missouri gentlemen of note, from other counties, were present on the speaker’s stand at its delivery, with Joseph Smith, Jr., president, and Hyrum Smith, vice president of the day, and at the conclusion of the oration, when the president of the day led off with the shout of hosanna, hosanna, hosanna, and joined in the shout by the vast multitude, these Missouri gentlemen began to shout hurrah, but they soon saw that [they] did not time with the other, and they ceased shouting.
A copy of the oration was furnished the editor, and printed in The Far West, a weekly newspaper printed in Liberty, the county seat of Clay County. It was also printed in pamphlet form, by the writer of this, in the printing office of the Elders’ Journal, in the city of Far West, a copy of which we have preserved.
This oration, and the stand taken by the Church in endorsing it, and its publication, undoubtedly exerted a powerful influence in arousing the people of the whole upper Missouri country.
Little did they think when driving David and John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Lyman E. Johnson out of Caldwell County, that the words of Jesus, where he said, “the same measure that you mete shall be measured to you again,” would be soon fulfilled upon their heads, and brought about, in a great measure, through their unwise and wicked words and actions. Let the cause be what it may, it soon came “as fierce as the mountain torrent, and as terrible as the beating tempest.”
We mourn when we think of these transactions, they were so different from the teachings of our blessed Lord and Master. But our heartfelt regrets will not undo the past, but a relation of these experiences may deter others from being drawn into such a snare.
In less than thirty-five days after that boastful and daring declaration was made what would be done if a mob should come upon us again, a mob commenced their wicked and outrageous treatment upon some of our brethren at the election at Gallatin, in Daviess County, as will be seen by the following quotation from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as found on page 229, of the 16th volume Millennial Star. [Ebenezer Robinson cites Joseph Smith’s history for August 7 and 8, 1838. Word was brought from Gallatin that two or three of the brethren were killed when the Latter-day Saints of that place were prevented from voting. Joseph, in company with Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith and about twenty others started out for Gallatin and arrived at Lyman Wight’s in the evening where they learned that, in fact, no Saints had been killed, but several were wounded. The next day they met with Justice of the Peace Adam Black. He was persuaded to make two written statements of his peaceful intentions towards the Mormons. Rather than sign one already prepared, he made his own. HC 3:58-60.]
We left our work in the printing office and went with the party to Daviess County, thinking it to be our bounden duty to aid our brethren in time of distress, and was present at Adam Black’s when he signed that paper given above. The party went with a determination to have him sign such a paper, but it proved to be an exceedingly unwise move.
The election took place on the 6th. Joseph Smith, Jr., and party went to Daviess County on the 7th, visited Mr. Black on the 8th, and on the 10th four prominent citizens of Daviess County, viz. Wm. [William] P. Peniston, Wm. [William] Bowman, Wilson McKilley and John Netherton, went before Austin A. King, of Ray County, judge of the 5th judicial circuit, and made oath that “A body of armed men, to the number of one hundred and twenty, have committed violence against Adam Black, by surrounding his house, and taking him in a violent manner, and subjecting him to great indignities, by forcing him, under threats of instant death, to sign a paper writing of a very disgraceful character, and by threatening to do the same to all the old settlers and citizens of Daviess County . . .”
The result was, a committee from Ray County visited Far West the next day, and soon after a committee from Chariton County, and the whole upper Missouri country was aroused, as will be seen by the following extract from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., page 245, 16th volume Millennial Star. [Ebenezer Robinson cites from Joseph Smith’s history for September 1-4, 1838. Conditions in Missouri deteriorate. Joseph and Sidney call for Generals Atchison and Doniphan to act as their lawyers and counsel them concerning their problems with the mob. Under their tutelage, Joseph and Sidney begin the study of law. Atchison and Doniphan suggest the two Church presidents may be admitted to the bar in twelve months. HC 3:67-69.]
This last movement of the First Presidents to become lawyers and be admitted at the bar, was new to us as we had not noticed it until the other day, in examining the history.
It is marvelous to see how far they had strayed from the course marked out by the Lord, for them to walk in. In a revelation given to Joseph Smith, Jr., in July, 1830, he had been told, “in temporal labors thou shalt not have strength, for this is not thy calling.”–D&C 23:4. [D&C 24:9]
Notwithstanding this positive declaration, how persistently they pursued temporal things, having tried merchandising, city lot speculation, searching after the hidden treasure in Salem, Massachusetts, where Joseph Smith received a revelation, that all Salem should be given to them, “with its gold and silver,” and then banking, all of which had so signally failed them, that they thought it best to get out of Kirtland, Ohio, in haste, as he informs in his history, that they left that place in the nighttime, on the 12th of January 1838, riding on horseback 60 miles the first night. See page 114, 16th volume Millennial Star.
It does seem that all these experiences should have taught them the truthfulness of the above declaration, but they seemed to be ready to try a new turn of the wheel of fate, and soon proved the truthfulness of the saying, “man proposes, but God disposes,” for, instead of being admitted to the bar, they were soon overcome by their enemies and incarcerated in prison, as will be seen in our next number.
During the summer of 1838, a settlement was established by the Church at DeWitt, on the Missouri River, in the lower part of Carroll County, Missouri. Two members of the high council at Far West, viz: George M. Hinkle and John Murdock had moved there.
In the latter part of September a mob began to gather, and threatened to drive the members of the Church from that place. The brethren armed themselves in self defense, and on the 2nd of October the mob commenced firing on them, which they repeated on the 3rd and 4th, when the brethren returned the fire.
On the 5th Joseph Smith, Jr., left Far West and arrived in DeWitt on the 6th, as we learn by the following quotation from his history; page 342, 16th volume Millennial Star.
“Saturday, October, 6th. I arrived at DeWitt, and found that the accounts of the situation of that place were correct; for it was with much difficulty, and by travelling unfrequented roads, that I was able to get there, all the principal roads being strongly guarded by the mob, who refused all ingress as well as egress. I found my brethren, who were only a handful in comparison to the mob by which they were surrounded, in this situation, and their provisions nearly exhausted, and no prospect of obtaining anymore. We thought it necessary to send immediately to the governor, to inform him of the circumstances, hoping, from the executive, to raise the protection which we needed; and which was guaranteed to us in common with other citizens. Several gentlemen of standing and respectability, who lived in the immediate vicinity, who were not in any way connected with the Church of Latter-day Saints, who had witnessed the proceedings of our enemies, came forward and made affidavits to the treatment we had received, and concerning our perilous situation; and offered their services to go and present the case to the governor themselves.”
A messenger was dispatched to the governor, who returned on the 9th, as seen by the following quotation from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., page 376, 16th volume Millennial Star. “The messenger, Mr. Caldwell, who had been dispatched to the governor for his assistance, returned, but instead of receiving any aid or even sympathy from his excellency, we were told that “the quarrel was between the Mormons and the mob,” and that “we might fight it out.” [This citation continues to describe the mobs being formed under General Parks and Captain Bogart. The brethren evacuate DeWitt and move to Far West (October 11). Warned by General Doniphan of a mob moving upon Adam-ondi-Ahman, Joseph preaches a sermon and asks for volunteers to march there (October 14). The brethren, as a militia under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hinkle, march to Adam-ondi-Ahman and find many of the Saints burned out of their homes (October 15-18) HC 3:157-163.]
When President Joseph Smith, Jr., preached the sermon, on the 14th, as named in the foregoing quotation, and called for volunteers, there was a ready response. A company was organized on the 15th, and marched to Daviess County, under the immediate command of David W. Patten, one of the Twelve Apostles, as captain, and Parley P. Pratt, another of the Twelve Apostles, as first lieutenant, and the writer hereof in the double capacity as second lieutenant and also, as ensign, for, as we marched into Adam-ondi-Ahman, we served as standard-bearer, floating the stars and stripes, in fulfillment, we suppose, of a declaration previously made by Joseph Smith, Jr., who had said, that when he went out to battle, we should be his “standard-bearer.”
We looked for farm work, as there were large numbers of armed men gathering in Daviess County, with avowed determination of driving the Mormons from the county, and we began to feel as determined that the Missourians should be expelled from the county.
We had pledged, on the 4th of July preceding, that if any mob should come upon us hereafter, it should “be between us and them a war of extermination . . . for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.” S. [Sidney] Rigdon’s oration.
The Church having thus deliberately made their own declaration and threats, and the mob having commenced their work, it now remained to be seen how those threats would be carried out.
Unfortunately for the Church, they now felt to act upon that declaration. A company of sixty were detailed to go to the east fork of Grand River, to bring and guard in some families of the Church who had settled there, the writer being one of the number.
We made an early start, and by a forced march, reached the place of destination about 2 o’clock P.M. and hurriedly packed the families into wagons and detailed about ten men to accompany the wagons as guard, the balance of the company immediately started on our return march, with a determination to attack the camp of the mob that night, if we could find them. They had been encamped near Millport, in Grand River timber, some six or eight miles from Adam-ondi-Ahman.
We reached the neighborhood of their encampment about one or two o’clock in the morning, but failed to find them. After exploring in the timber some time, and not finding the camp, marched into Millport, thinking we would undoubtedly find some trace of the mob there, but failed to find them, when we returned to Adam-ondi-Ahman, where we arrived just after daylight.
Not long after our arrival at our camp in the morning, one of the brethren, who had been detained by the mob through the night, having been released, came in and reported that the mob, anticipating an attack, had changed their location once or twice during the night, which accounted for our not finding them.
As stated in the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as herein quoted, the mob soon broke up and left, together with several Missourians, who now seemed to be aroused to the gravity of the situation. Some lingered, but soon after left in a hurry, for “prairie fires” (as they were termed) became frequent, and with them one, or more, of the Missourians’ houses went up in flame and smoke, and settled down in a bed of embers and ashes, fired by the hands of some of those who had pledged to “carry the seat of war to their own houses,” etc. A swift retribution, however, soon followed.
We further quote from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., page 406, 16th volume Millennial Star.
[Ebenezer Robinson cites that part of the history which details the apostasy of Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde and the death of David W. Patten at the battle of Crooked River (October 24- 25) HC 3:165-172.]
The battle of Crooked River was the only one fought during these troubles. We may speak of it and also of the massacre at Haun’s Mill, hereafter.–ED.
In our last we gave an account of a company of brethren volunteering at Far West, at the call of Joseph Smith, Jr., and marching to Daviess County, with David W. Patten as captain, who was one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church. We esteemed him very highly, as a good man, and loved him as such. He was brave to a fault. So much so, that he was styled and called, “Captain Fearnought.” He seemed reckless of his life, as though it was scarce worth preserving. He had said to us, before there was any indication of a mob, or difficulty with the people of Missouri, “If I dare to do it, I could wish myself dead.” We did not feel at liberty to ask him any reason for such a wish, but presume it was on account of those things transpiring in the Church, as we did not know of his having any domestic or financial troubles.
An account of the battle at Crooked River, and of his death, we gave in the last number of THE RETURN, on page 191, as quoted from history of Joseph Smith, Jr. He was buried with the honors of war, and at his grave a solemn covenant was made to avenge his death.
The attack upon Bogart, and the mob under his command at Crooked River, added wonderfully to the excitement already existing in upper Missouri, and created wide spread alarm, on account of the exaggerated statements made with regard to it.
The report went abroad, and circulated like wildfire, “that Bogart, and all his company, amounting to between fifty and sixty men, were massacred by the Mormons, except three,” whereas only one of his men was killed.
The brethren lost three killed and several wounded, as heretofore stated. They took one prisoner, who was released after the brethren from Far West met them. When he was released he was told to go in a certain direction lest young men seeing him might shoot him. He went in the direction told, but did not escape being shot, as someone shot and wounded him, not fatally however, as he recovered, and appeared as a witness afterwards against the brethren, when on trial in Richmond.
The writer of these papers did not accompany this expedition, therefore was not present to witness any of its scenes, as we declined to go when called upon the night before, consequently were at home, thirteen miles away from the scene of the engagement, when it took place.
After the governor sent word to the brethren by their messenger, as stated in our last, that “if they had got into a difficulty with the citizens they must fight it out,” they felt justified in pursuing the course they did in plundering the store in Gallatin, and burning the houses in Daviess County; which action, together with the attack on Bogart’s camp, completely aroused the whole upper country.
Rumors came to Far West of mobs gathering in large numbers, and committing terrible depredations against the brethren, the most brutal of which was THE MASSACRE AT HAUN’S MILL:
a brief account of which we extract from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., found on page 587, 16th volume Millennial Star, as follows:
“About the time of the battle with Captain Bogart, a number of our people who were living near Haun’s Mill, on Shoal Creek, emigrants who had been stopped there in consequence of the excitement, made an agreement with the mob which was about there, that neither party should molest the other, but dwell in peace. Shortly after this agreement was made, a mob party of from two to three hundred, many of whom are supposed to be from Chariton County, some from Davies [Daviess], and also those who had agreed to dwell in peace, came upon our people there, whose number in men was about forty, at a time they little expected any such thing, and without any ceremony, notwithstanding they begged for quarter, shot them down as they would tigers or panthers. Some few made their escape by fleeing. Eighteen were killed, and a number more were severely wounded.
This tragedy was conducted in the most brutal and savage manner. An old man, after the massacre was partially over, threw himself into their hands and begged for quarter, when he was instantly shot down; that not killing him, they took an old corn cutter and literally mangled him to pieces. A lad of ten years of age, after being shot down, also begged to be spared, when one of them placed the muzzle of his gun to his head and blew out his brains. The slaughter of these not satisfying the mob, they then proceeded to rob and plunder. The scene that presented itself after the massacre, to the widows and orphans of the killed, is beyond description. It was truly a time of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation.”
This was a cold-blooded butchery, and shows very clearly the terrible state of feeling existing in the country at the time. The perpetrators of this terrible crime were never called to an account by the authorities of Missouri. Some of them publicly boasted of the part they took in this barbarous transaction.
Eighteen of the victims were buried in one well. Thrown in promiscuously, without shroud or coffin.
A writer in the Missouri Globe Democrat, over the signature of “Burr Joice,” has given a detailed account of this terrible affair, which was published in the Saints’ Herald, of October 22, 1887.
While these were transpiring in Davies [Daviess] and Caldwell Counties, messengers were being sent to the governor with exciting and highly exaggerated statements which induced him to order out a large number of troops, and to issue, Nero-like, his exterminating order, in which he said, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public good,” a thing unheard of in a free republican government, such as ours. The innocent should never be punished with the guilty, more than is incidental in the just execution of the law.
We here insert some of the communications sent to the governor, and his order calling out troops, and also his exterminating order, copies of which were obtained some time afterwards, but at the time, the brethren had no intimation of what was passing with the governor.
The following letters and governor’s orders are copied from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as found on pages 444 and 446, 16th volume Millennial Star.
[Ebenezer Robinson here cites a letter by Judge E. M. Ryland to Amos Rees and Wiley C. Williams claiming that the Saints had wiped out Bogart’s company and were then moving toward Richmond (October 25); another letter by Adjutant General Lisle to General Clark informing him of the governor’s orders for 400 men to march against the Saints (October 26); Governor Boggs’ Extermination Order (October 27); and Generals Atchison and Lucas’ request that Governor Boggs take the “seat of war” (October 28) HC 3:172-176.]
In the afternoon of the 30th of October, 1838, a large body of armed men were seen approaching Far West, whom we supposed were mobbers coming to attack the city, as at that time we did not know of the governor’s order calling out the militia, consequently felt it our duty to make as successful a resistance as possible.
Our men were collected upon the public square, where President Joseph Smith, Jr., delivered an address, in which he endeavoured to inspire the hearts of his hearers with courage, and deeds of valor, in defense of our families, our homes, and our firesides, in which he made this declaration that if the mob persisted in coming upon us, “We will play h–l with their apple cart.”
At the conclusion of the address, our men formed into companies under their respective officers, and marched out of town, on to the open prairie on the south of town, as the army was coming in from the south, and formed in line of battle, in single column, stretched out as far as we could, by stationing the men several feet apart, so that, to an observer at a distance, we made a very formidable appearance.
Goose Creek, a small stream running from the northwest to the southeast, passed nearly one mile south of town. The army that was coming, crossed over this stream and formed in line of battle, and marched towards the city. Their army being in the valley, and ours on the high prairie; with the brow of the descending ground and hazel brush intervening, could not see each other, but we could distinctly hear their officers give the word of command.
Their commanding officer, as he came out of the hazel brush, was in full view of our little army of about three hundred men, but spread out as we were, appeared to him a host; he immediately ordered a “halt,” and soon ordered his army to “right about face,” and marched them back to Goose Creek, where they went into camp for the night.
Our men returned into the city, and went immediately at work throwing up a barricade on that side of the city, composed of fence rails, house logs, building material, wagons, or any and everything moveable we could get.
We stationed a guard around the city, and writer hereof officiated as sergeant of the guard for that night, until four o’clock the next morning. And to show the impression made upon that army by our little band of men spread out to such an extent upon the prairie, we learned afterwards, they estimated our force at two thousand strong, while they had only firteen hundred. With this impression upon their minds, they evidently expected an attack from our men during the night. Four different times during the night, while attending to our guard duties, we heard them give the alarm, and their officers called the men “to arms,” which we could distinctly hear in the stillness of the night. We were told they were called “to arms” once after we laid down at four o’clock, making five times during the night.
The sound that came from the camp, after the call “to arms,” resembled more the buzzing of a large swarm of bees when the hive is disturbed, than anything else we can compare it to.
They evidently were very much excited, and we have no doubt, had we made an attack their army could easily have routed, but we had no such thought; our whole effort was directed in making preparation for self defense.
The next morning their army marched up towards the city, and we repaired to our breastwork, expecting an attack. They however, after a short time, withdrew to their camp, and we returned into the city, but to be ready at a moment’s notice for any emergency.
Of the imprisonment of Joseph Smith, Jr., and others, and of our surrender, we will speak hereafter.
On the 31st of October, 1838, Colonel Geo. [George] M. Hinkle, W. [William] W. Phelps, and, we believe, Captain Arthur Morrison, went out of the city, with a white flag, and had an interview with General Samuel D. Lucas, who was then in command of the army. General Lucas informed them that his army was the state militia ordered out by the governor, and he demanded the presence of Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt, and Geo. [George] W. Robinson, as hostages, (as he states in his report to the governor,) with the declaration that if they did not come by “one hour by sun in the evening, he would make an attack upon the town.”
Colonel Hinkle and companions returned to the city, and reported the result of their interview to President Joseph Smith, Jr., and the other brethren named above, who, after a serious, deliberate consultation, concluded to go to the army, but instead of being treated as hostages were taken into custody, and treated as prisoners of war.
Parley P. Pratt, speaking of this transaction says:
“Colonel Hinkle waited on Messrs. J. [Joseph] Smith, [Jr.], S. [Sidney] Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, L. [Lyman] Wight, G. [George] W. Robinson and myself, with a polite request from General Lucas, that we would surrender ourselves as prisoners and repair to his camp, and remain overnight, with assurance that as soon as peaceable arrangements could be entered into next morning, we should be released. With this request we readily complied, as soon as we were assured by the pledge of the honor of the principal officers, that our lives should be safe; we accordingly walked near a mile voluntarily, towards the camp of the enemy; who, when they saw us coming came out to meet us by the thousands, with General Lucas at their head. When the haughty general rode up to us, and scarcely passing a compliment, gave orders to his troops to surround us, which they did very abruptly, and we were marched into camp and surrounded by thousands of savage-looking beings, many of whom were painted like Indian warriors. These all set up a constant yell, like so many bloodhounds let loose on their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories which ever dignified the annals of the world. In camp we were placed under a strong guard, and before morning, A. [Amasa] Lyman and several others were added to our number.- [Parley] P. Pratt’s history of the persecutions.
That night, about sixty of those who had been engaged in the Crooked River battle, made arrangements, and fled on horseback, north to the Indian country of Iowa, thus escaping the vengeance of the authorities of Missouri, which was about to be poured out upon all those who participated in that affair. They were advised to leave, being looked upon as men who had periled their lives in defense of their brethren, and their friends wished them to escape the wrath of their persecutors.
The next morning, Thursday, November 1, the brethren in the city were told that it was deemed advisable to lay down our arms and surrender to the army, which, instead of being a mob, were the militia of the state, ordered out by the governor, and acting under legally commissioned officers. And also, that it was the wish of President Joseph Smith, Jr., that we should do so.
Accordingly, about 10 o’clock, A.M., we marched out on to the open prairie south of town, where the army was stationed, forming three sides of a hollow square, leaving the north side open, through which our little army marched, and formed a hollow square inside of the square of the army. They had their artillery stationed on the south side of the square, with their guns pointing to the north in such a manner that in case anything should occur, making it necessary to use them, they could rake us fore and aft, without endangering their own men.
Our men were stationed in our hollow square with our faces inward, and at the word of command laid down our guns, and taking off our powder horns or flasks, laid them down also; seeing this Major Seymour Bronson passed around the square, and speaking low to the men, told us to take up our powder and bullet accoutrements, as we were not required to give them up, whereupon we took them up, which caused a stir among the soldiers.
When the writer laid his gun upon the ground, and as it lay there, a spirit of much greater strength came upon us than we had enjoyed while carrying it, and we asked our Heavenly Father to witness the scene, and to give us grace and strength to keep his commandments the remainder of our days, when a spirit of resignation and calmness filled our souls, and we rejoiced in the Lord.
Our guns were gathered up and taken possession of by the soldiers, which is the last we ever saw of them.
A strong guard were placed around us and we were detained at the place of surrender until near night, while the main body of the army, now numbering two thousand five hundred men, went into the town. They placed a guard entirely around the city, so that persons inside could not go out, or those outside come in without a permit. Sometime before sunset, we were marched back into the city and disbanded, after being charged by their commanding officer, that whenever we heard the drumbeat on the public square, we must immediately repair to that place and await further orders.
President Joseph Smith, Jr., and those brethren taken prisoners with him, were taken to Jackson County, Missouri.
On Friday the 2nd, or on Saturday the 3rd, (we do not distinctly remember which day, but we remember the circumstance perfectly well,) the drumbeat, and we repaired to the public square, according to previous orders, where the soldiers were formed in a hollow square with a table standing inside, with a deed of trust and writing material thereon, and officers sitting by it, who required each one of us to sign the deed. In this act they informed us that we signed away all our property, both personal and real, to pay the expenses of the war.
Thus, within the short space of four months from the time the Church made that threatening boast that if a mob should come upon us again, “we would carry the war to their own houses, and one party or the other should be utterly destroyed,” we found ourselves prisoners of war, our property confiscated, our leaders in close confinement, and the entire Church required to leave the state or be exterminated.
We admonish all Christian people let this be a solemn warning to never suffer themselves to make a threatening boast of what they would do under certain circumstances, as we are not our own keepers, and we feel certain the Lord will not help us fight any such battles. But to return to our narrative.
On Sunday night, the 4th, our spiritual monitor notified us that, individually, we had not experienced the worst. So strong was this impression that when the drum beat on the public square on Monday afternoon, the writer declined to go, hoping that possibly we might escape the coming sorrow. But our remaining at home did not avail us, for soon a soldier came and asked if Ebenezer Robinson lived here? We assured him that was our name, when he said: “General Clark wants to see you on the public square.” Putting on our cap, started with him, he going behind us with the muzzle of his gun close to our back. We soon met an officer on horseback, to whom our guard said, “I have got him,” to this the officer replied, “Make him run, d–n him.” At this we started out on a brisk trot.
On the public square the soldiers were formed in a hollow square as before, and General Clark and other officers therein. Our guard, taking us inside the hollow square, addressed General Clark, and said: “Here is Mr. Robinson.” The general commanded us to step five paces forward. This brought us in line with several brethren who had preceded us. Looking along the line we noticed Bishop E. [Edward] Partridge, Isaac Morley, and several others considered some of the best brethren in the Church. This encouraged us, feeling assured they would prove good companions in tribulation. Several other brethren were brought and placed in our company, until they obtained near fifty. They marched us to a hotel, before the door of which two columns of soldiers were stationed, extending out about forty feet from the door, facing each other, with their guns poised so their muzzles were about breast high, between which we marched into the hotel.
After we had been taken to the hotel General Clark made the following speech to the brethren on the public square:
“Gentlemen, you whose names are not attached to this list of names, will now have the privilege of going to your fields and providing corn, wood, etc., for your families. Those who are now taken will go from this to prison, be tried, and receive the due demerit of their crimes. But you (except such as charges may hereafter be preferred against) are now at liberty, as soon as the troops are removed that now guard the place, which I shall cause to be done immediately. It now devolves upon you to fulfill the treaty that you have entered into, the leading items of which I shall now lay before you–
The first requires that your leading men be given up to be tried according to law; this you have already complied with.
The second is, that you deliver up your arms; this has been attend to.
The third stipulation is, that you sign over your properties to defray the expenses of the war; this you have also done.
Another article yet remains for you to comply with, and that is, that you leave the state forthwith; and whatever may be your feelings concerning this, or whatever your innocence, it is nothing to me; General Lucas, who is equal in authority with me, has made this treaty with you–I approve of it–I should have done the same, had I been here–I am therefore determined to see it fulfilled. The character of this state has suffered almost beyond redemption, from the character, conduct, and influence that you have exerted, and we deem it an act of justice to restore her character to its former standing among the states, by every proper means.
The orders of the governor to me were, that you should be exterminated, and not allowed to remain in the state, and had your leaders not been given up, and the terms of the treaty complied with, before this, you and your families would have been destroyed and your houses in ashes.
There is a discretionary power vested in my hands, which I shall exercise in your favor for a session; for this lenity you are indebted to my clemency. I do not say that you shall go now, but you must not think of staying here another season, or of putting in crops, for the moment you do this the citizens will be upon you. If I am called here again, in case of a noncompliance of a treaty made, do not think that I shall act any more as I have done–you need not expect any mercy, but extermination, for I am determined the governor’s order shall be executed. As for your leaders, do not once think–do not imagine for a moment–do not let it enter your mind, that they will be delivered, or that you will see their faces again, for their fate is fixed- -THEIR DIE IS CAST–THEIR DOOM IS SEALED.
I am sorry, gentlemen, to see so great a number of apparently intelligent men found in the situation that you are; and oh! that I could invoke that Great Spirit, THE UNKNOWN GOD, to rest upon you and make you sufficiently intelligent to break that chain of superstition, and liberate you from those fetters of fanaticism, with which you are bound–that you no longer worship a man.
I would advise you to scatter abroad, and never again organize yourselves with bishops, presidents, etc., lest you excite the jealousies of the people, and subject yourselves to the same calamities that have now come upon you. You have always been the aggressors–you have brought upon yourselves these difficulties by being disaffected and not being subject to rule–and my advice is, that you become as other citizens, lest by a recurrence of these events you bring upon yourselves irretrievable ruin.”
After making the above speech on the public square, General Clark came into the hotel and said to us, that we were charged with “treason, murder, burglary, arson, robbery and larceny, and that tomorrow you will be taken to Richmond to be tried for the above crimes.” They then took us to a vacant storeroom that was to serve for our quarters during the night. They then permitted us to go to our homes under guard, to bid our families farewell, and to procure blankets for our bedding, and also have our families furnish our supper and breakfast, as no provision had been made for us by the officers of the army.
The soldier who accompanied the writer to his home, was a very humane man, as he would not enter to witness the parting scene. We soon returned to the storeroom where they detained us until near noon the next day, our families bringing us our supper and breakfast, but we made no further provision for food, expecting to be supplied from the quartermaster’s stores of the army, but in this we were disappointed.
Tuesday November 6, we started for Richmond, under a strong guard mounted; we, the prisoners, walked about thirteen miles, when they camped for the night. Having had no dinner, we felt the want of food. The officers of the army having made no preparation for us, our only resort was to get ears of corn, which had been provided for the horses, and roast them in the fire, and eat, which the writer and others did, and we confess it proved a sweet and delicious repast.
At Richmond we were taken into the courthouse, which was a new unfinished brick building, with no inside work done except a floor laid across one end, some sixteen or twenty feet wide. There were two large fire places built in the wall where the floor was laid. A railing was built across the room at the edge of the floor, and we were quartered inside the railing as our prison, with a strong guard inside and outside and building.
Two three-pail iron kettles for boiling our meat, and two or more iron bake kettles, or Dutch ovens, for baking our corn bread in, were furnished us, together with sacks of cornmeal and meat in the bulk. We did our own cooking. This arrangement suited us very well, and we enjoyed ourselves as well as men could under similar circumstances. We spread our blankets upon the floor at night for our beds, and before retiring, we sang an hymn and had prayers, and practiced the same each morning before breakfast.
The soldiers inside the building usually gave good attention during these devotions. Some of them were heard to tell other soldiers to come and hear these Mormons sing, for, said they: “They have composed some of the d–dst prettiest songs about Diahman [Adam-ondi-Ahman] you ever heard in your life.”
Some of the guard however, at times, were very rude in speech and actions. One was heard to cry out to another: “Shoot your Mormon, I have shot mine.” From this we concluded he helped compose the mob that committed that brutal, unhuman massacre at Haun’s Mill. The writer saw one of the guard perpetrate upon one of the prisoners an indignity too indecent to be named.
President Joseph Smith, Jr., and his fellow prisoners viz: Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, Amasa Lyman and George W. Robinson, were brought from Independence to Richmond, and placed in another building, and chained together in a cruel and barbarous manner.
Tuesday, November 13, a space on the south end of the floor in the courthouse was appropriated for the use of the court, which convened on that day, with Austin A. King on the bench, and Thomas C. Burch, state’s attorney, when the prisoners named above, together with those confined in the courthouse, were arraigned for trial, viz:
Caleb Baldwin, Alanson Ripley, Washington Voorhees, Sidney Tanner, John Buchanan, Jacob Gates, Chandler Holbrook, George W. Harris, Jesse D. Hunter, Andrew Whitlock, Martin C. Alred [Allred], William Alred, George D. Grant, Darwin Chase, Elijah Newman, Alvin G. Tippets, Zedekiah Owens, Isaac Morley, Thomas Beck, Moses Clawson, John T. Tanner, Daniel Shearer, Daniel S. Thomas, Alexander McRea, Elisha Edwards, John S. Higbee, Ebenezer Page, Benjamin Covey, Ebenezer Robinson, Luman Gibbs, James M. Henderson, David Pettigrew, Edward Partridge, Francis Higbee, David Frampton, George Kimbell, Joseph W. Younger, Henry Zabriski, Allen J. Stout, Sheffield Daniels, Silas Maynard, Anthony Head, Benjamin Jones, Daniel Carn, John T. Earl, and Norman Shearer.
All the above named prisoners were severally charged with high treason against the state, murder, burglary, arson, robbery and larceny.
The charge of murder was made on account of the man that was killed in the Bogart battle, wherein one Missourian and three of our men were killed. Fortunately, most of our brethren who had participated in that battle had left the state, consequently only a few of our fellow prisoners had anything to do with that unfortunate affair.
After the trial had progressed a few days, we understood the judge to say that “nothing but hanging would answer the law,” thinking perhaps, from the testimony, that we were all guilty of treason. On another occasion we understood him to say, speaking of the prisoners, that, “if they would deny the Book of Mormon they might go clear.” These things were talked over among the prisoners, but not one of our number would accept of freedom upon such unholy terms, notwithstanding it might possibly save them from the gallows. In view of these things, when we were seriously contemplating the worst, judge of our happy surprise when, on Saturday, the 24th, the judge issued the following order:
“Defendants against whom nothing has been proven, viz: Amasa Lyman, John Buchanan, Andrew Whitlock, Alvah L. Tippets, Jedediah Owens, Isaac Morley, John T. Tanner, Daniel S. Thomas, Elisha Edwards, Benjamin Covey, David Frampton, Henry Zabriski, Allen J. Stout, Sheffield Daniels, Silas Maynard, Anthony Head, John T. Earl, Ebenezer Brown, James Newberry, Sylvester Hulet, Chandler Holbrook, Martin Alred [Allred], William Alred. The above defendants have been discharged by me, there being no evidence against them. Austin A. King, Judge, etc. November 24, 1838.”
As will be seen, the writer’s name does not appear in the list of those discharged. The reason undoubtedly is because our name had been mentioned by W. [William] W. Phelps, one of the witnesses for the state as having seen us with a burned gun barrel. The circumstance was this, during the burning in Daviess County, the writer accompanied a party of our men who visited a farmhouse belonging to a Missourian, which was deserted by its owner. Some of the party set fire to the house and barn and the party left the place. After getting some half a mile away, we heard the report of a gun in the burning barn.
The next day a few of us rode out to the place, and in the ashes of the barn found a gun barrel, which the writer took back to camp and related the circumstance of finding it in the ashes, to those in camp, and this Mr. [William W.] Phelps was present. Thus this, to us, worthless gun barrel became undoubtedly the principal cause of our being detained longer a prisoner.
The above was the only time we were present at any house burning during all the troubles.
It seemed to be the aim of the prosecuting attorney to implicate as many of the prisoners as possible, with the Bogart battle, so much so, that Brother Lumen Gibbs, one of the prisoners, a good, honest-hearted soul, thinking to exonerate himself, stepped up on to a bench, in open court, and said: “I wasn’t there at all, I stayed back and took care of the horses.” The writer pulled the skirt of his coat, and urged him to keep quiet, but it was too late, he had sealed his destiny.
The court continued in session a few days after the discharge of those named above, when some others were discharged, and the remainder remanded to prison.
The trial was a one-sided ex parte affair, as our witnesses were treated so badly, and intimidated to such an extent it was considered useless to attempt to make an extended defense.
Joseph Smith, Jr., in his history, as found on page 565, 16th volume Millennial Star, says:
“Wednesday, 28. Daniel Ashly, a member of the state senate, wrote General Clark that he was in the battle [massacre] at Haun’s Mills [Mill], that thirty-one “Mormons’ were killed, and seven of his party wounded.
The remaining prisoners were all released, or admitted to bail, except Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, Hyrum Smith, Alexander McRae, Sidney Rigdon, and myself, who were sent to Liberty, Clay County, to jail to stand our trial for treason and murder–the treason, for having whipped the mob out of Daviess County, and taking their cannon from the; and the murder, of killing the man in the Bogart battle; also Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs, Darwin Chase, and Norman Shearer, who were put into Richmond Jail to stand their trial for the same `crimes.’
During the investigation, we were mostly confined in chains and received much abuse.
The matter of driving away witnesses or casting them into prison, or chasing them out of the country, was carried to such a length, that our lawyers, General Doniphan and Amos Rees, told us not to bring our witnesses there at all; for if we did there would not be one of them left for final trial; for no sooner would Bogart and his men know who they were, than they would put them out of the country.
As to making any impression on King, if a cohort of angels were to come down, and declared we were clear, Doniphan said it would all be the same; for he (King) had determined from the beginning to cast us into prison.
We never got the privilege of introducing our witnesses at all; if we had, we could have disproved all they swore.” [HC 3:212-213]
Joseph Smith, Jr., Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae were taken to the Liberty, Clay County Jail, and the remainder of the prisoners, eighteen in number, were removed from the courthouse to the Richmond Jail, and put upstairs into the debtors’ room, all of whom were subsequently released on bail except Parley P. Pratt, Luman Gibbs, Morris Phelps, Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer.
The first or second night they put us down into the dungeon, which was strongly built without light or ventilation. We spread our blankets down in a circle, which completely filled the place except a small space in the center occupied by an iron kettle.
The only entrance to this dark place, that we discovered, was through a trapdoor from the room above, and a light ladder put down when necessary for persons to enter or leave it, and then the ladder taken up and the trapdoor fastened, making it a dungeon in very deed.
In the morning they opened the trapdoor, and putting down the ladder we gladly made our way into the light of day, thanking the Lord for the privilege of seeing the beautiful sunlight, and breathing the sweet, pure air of heaven. This was the only experience we ever had in a dungeon. The remainder of the time the writer remained in prison we were permitted to sleep in the debtors’ room. The jail was a two story hewed-log building, the upper story unfinished. The space between the logs was not plastered, and only indifferently chinked, consequently a cold uncomfortable place, but being so many of us, we made it as cheerful and comfortable as possible.
We were taken there on the 28th of November. Winter set in early that season. A considerable snow had fallen, and the weather became severely cold by the first of December. An amusing scene occurred one cold night. Brother Luman Gibbs, of whom we have heretofore spoken, lodged in the same bed with the writer, and after retiring for the night, he put his feet out of the bed and said: “Stay there and freeze, it serves you right; bring me here all the way from Vermont to be in prison for murder and never thought of killing anybody in all my life.” The act was so unexpected and so ludicrous, it convulsed his fellow prisoners with laughter, except Parley P. Pratt, he seemed to get out of humor, and gave him a good scolding. We may have occasion to speak of Brother Gibbs hereafter.
After a few days confinement in jail we were released upon a light bail; James M. Henderson, one of our fellow prisoners, signed our bail bond, and we returned to our home in Far West, feeling thankful to our Heavenly Father for our freedom.
On the 13th of December, met with the high council, as will be seen by the following quotation from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as found on page 602, Millennial Star. And also again, as seen on page 363, same paper. [Minutes of the High Council Meetings, December 13 and 16, 1838, HC 3:224-226, 240.]
As will be seen by the extracts published in our former article, that immediately on our return to Far West, from Richmond, we were called to take part in the affairs of the Church.
On the 13th of December we officiated as clerk of the high council. Again, on the 19th officiated not only as clerk, but also as a member of the high council, on which occasion Elders John Taylor and John E. Page were appointed and ordained apostles to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve.
Early in January, 1839, at a local election the writer was elected justice of the peace, and duly commissioned as such and attended to the duties of that office during our stay in that state.
In consequence of the governor’s order, expelling the Church from the state, preparations were being made to carry out said order within the time specified and as there were a large number of poor families requiring help to get away, a committee was appointed to see that all were cared for in the removal, as will be seen by the following quotation from the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., as found on pages 711 and 712, 16th volume Millennial Star. [Minutes of public meetings held in Far West January 26 and 29, 1839, HC 3:249-251.]
It will be seen by the foregoing quotation, that it is no small matter for a whole church, or community, numbering, as it was estimated, some ten or twelve thousand, to be compelled to move out of a state in the dead of winter, as was required to be done. Of the heartless cruelty in issuing such an order by the governor, we leave every one to judge.
Knowing there was no alternative but to leave, the writer began to make arrangements as well as he could to that end. In the latter part of January, in company with three other brethren, we walked from Far West, Missouri, to Quincy, Illinois, through the snow, where we arrived on the first day of February, having one dollar left, after paying our ferriage across the Mississippi River.
Some families of brethren had preceded us, among whom was Elder John P. Green and family, with whom we stopped a day or two.
Not knowing what to do, as Quincy was being overrun with laborers, and hearing there were some parties about forty miles north, in Hancock County, favorable to our people, we concluded to go there; and after leaving Brother Green’s to go north, the thought occurred to us that it would not be wise to leave the place without first visiting the printing offices there. Accordingly, we stepped into the Quincy Whig printing office, conducted by Messrs. Bartlett and Sullivan.
For some reason, we felt a little delicate about introducing our business, therefore asked them if they had any papers from western Missouri. They replied: “Yes,” and gave us one to look at. One of them soon asked if we belonged to that people who were compelled to leave Missouri. We replied in the affirmative, and told them we wished to secure a situation in a printing office, as that was our occupation. They said they did not need any help, but if we understood job work and blank printing, they would give us a few days’ work at one dollar per day, and we could share with them in board (as they kept “bach,” neither of them being married), by furnishing our share of the provisions, or giving one dollar and fifty cents per week.
We gladly accepted the proposition, and considered it a great favor, and felt to thank our Heavenly Father for having put it into their hearts to be thus kind to us.
We soon had means sufficient to engage a team and had our family brought to Quincy, where we rented a single room at $5 per month, and remained with Messrs. Bartlett and Sullivan until in the month of May, having constant employment.
The citizens of Quincy received our people with open arms, and held public meetings, and appointed a committee to solicit money and clothing and other necessaries for those who were destitute; and also adopted resolutions recommending the citizens to give employment to those willing to labor, and to be careful not to say anything calculated to wound the feelings of the strangers thrown in their midst, which caution was very thoughtful and timely.
During the winter and early spring, the prisoners at Liberty had been released except Joseph and Hyrum Smith. In April they were taken to Daviess County where bills of indictment were found against them. They took a change of venue to another county, and the sheriff detailed a guard to accompany him in their removal. The first night the guard were allowed to get intoxicated, when the prisoners mounted two fine horses and quietly rode to Quincy, Illinois. A few weeks later the writer saw the sheriff at Quincy, making Joseph Smith, Jr., a friendly visit, and received pay for the horses.
The prisoners in Richmond had all been liberated except Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs and King Follett. These took a change of venue, and were removed to Boone County, where they remained until the 4th of July, when Elders Pratt and Phelps made their escape.
Believing it will be interesting to many of our readers, we give Elder [Parley P.] Pratt’s account of their escape copied from his history of the persecutions as found in the history of Joseph Smith, Jr., on page 342 of the 17th volume Millennial Star, as follows: [See The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 247-262 for an account similar but more detailed than that in the Millennial Star.]
Lumen Gibbs sent for his wife who came and lived with him in the jail. He was a basket maker, and we were told the jailor let him go into the forest and cut and prepare the material, when he would return to the jail and make his baskets, and take them out and sell them. He remained until the state issued a nolle prosequi, and he was liberated according to law.
Joseph and Hyrum Smith made their escape on the 15th of April, and arrived at Quincy on the 22nd. On the 24th President Joseph Smith, Jr., Bishop Vincent Knights [Knight] and Alanson Ripley were appointed a committee to select a location for the Church, by a council of the official members of the Church convened at Quincy, at which council a resolution passed advising the brethren “to move north to Commerce as soon as they possibly can.”
On the 25th the committee left Quincy on their mission. After examining different localities in Lee County, Iowa, and Commerce, Hancock County, Illinois, they decided upon the latter place. On the 1st day of May the committee purchased of Hugh White, a farm of 135 acres for five thousand dollars, and also of Isaac Galland, a farm adjoining the White farm, for nine thousand dollars.
Joseph Smith, Jr., moved to Commerce on the 10th of May, and settled on the White farm, and Sidney Rigdon and Geo. [George] W. Robinson settled, about the same time, on the Galland farm, and other brethren commenced moving in. These farms were soon laid out into city lots.
The following is a description of the place by Joseph Smith, Jr., copied from page 276, 17th volume Millennial Star:
“Tuesday, June 11th, 1839.
About this time Theodore Turley raised the first house built by the Saints in this place; it was built of logs, about twenty-five or thirty rods north northeast of my dwelling, on the northeast corner of lot 4, block 147 of the White purchase. When I made the purchase of White and Galland, there were one stone house, three frame houses, and two block houses, which constituted the whole of Commerce. Between Commerce and Mr. Davidson Hibbard’s there was one stone and three log houses, including the one that I live in, and these were all the houses in this vicinity, and the place was literally a wilderness. The land was mostly covered with trees and bushes, and much of it so wet that it was with the utmost difficulty a footman could get through, and totally impossible for teams. Commerce was so unhealthy, very few could live there, but believing that it might become a healthy place by the blessing of heaven to the Saints, and no more eligible place presenting itself, I considered it wisdom to make an attempt to build up a city.”
In the month of May, 1839, the writer moved from Quincy to Commerce, Illinois, to which place our people were rapidly gathering. The only chance for a house was the body of a log house situated on the high ground in the woods near the river, about one mile north of Commerce. For the want of lumber, were under the necessity of going into the forest and splitting out oak clapboards, or shakes, three feet long, for the roof, floor and doors, which furnished a temporary shelter.
At a council of the First Presidency and other authorities of the Church, early in June, it was decided to let Don Carlos Smith, and the writer, (as we were practical printers,) have the printing press and type which had been saved from the mob in Missouri, by having been buried in the ground and a haystack placed over it, and that we should publish a paper for the Church, or a church paper, at our own expense and responsibility, and receive all the profits arising therefrom. The council named said paper Times and Seasons. Accordingly we undertook the task, and after purchasing fifty dollars worth of type on credit, from Dr. Isaac Galland, and cleaning the Missouri soil from the press and type that had been saved, and hiring from one of the brethren, fifty dollars in money, which we sent for paper, we issued the prospectus for the Times and Seasons, and sent it to brethren residing in different states.
[Heretofore, in “Items of personal history,” when speaking of myself, have used the pronoun we, as is customary with editors, but having formed a copartnership with Don Carlos Smith, it seems necessary that a change be made in the manner of expression, therefore hereafter, when speaking of our company affairs, will use the term we, but when speaking of myself, individually, will use the pronoun I and my. The reader must not consider it egotism at the frequent appearance of these terms, as it cannot well be avoided.]
The only room that could be obtained for the printing office, was a basement room in a building formerly used as a warehouse, but now occupied as a dwelling, situated on the bank of the Mississippi River. The room used for the printing office had no floor, and the ground was kept damp by the water constantly trickling down from the bank side. Here we set the type for the first number of the paper, which we got ready for the press in July, and had struck off only some two hundred copies, when both Carlos and the writer were taken down with the chills and fever, and what added to our affliction, both our families were taken down with the same disease. My wife was taken sick the very next day after I was, which sickness continued ten months. This was a year of suffering for the citizens of the place, as it was estimated at one time, there was not one well person to nearly ten that were sick. Five adults died out of one family in one week.
Before our sickness we had wet down paper sufficient for two thousand copies of the Times and Seasons, which paper mildewed and spoiled. Afterwards another batch of paper was wet down by Francis Higbee, who thought he could print the papers, but he failed and that paper was lost.
Subscriptions for the paper soon commenced coming in, in answer to the prospectus, and the two hundred copies sent out, which enabled us to provide for our families; and also to have a small, cheap frame building put up, one and a half stories high, the lower room to be used for the printing office, and our friends moved myself and wife into the upper room, or chamber, in the latter part of August. We were moved upon our bed, and a portion of the time in those days, neither of us was able to speak a loud word. This was a happy change for us, as it gave a clean sweet room to dwell in, and the benefit of near neighbors, it being in town.
In the month of November we secured the services of a young printer from Ohio, Lyman Gaylord, and resumed the publication of the paper. In the winter of 1839-40, Brother Carlos and myself had each of us a log house built on a lot donated to us by the Church, situated on a block next to the one on which the printing office was located, and moved into the same in early spring. The deed to our lot was signed by Joseph Smith, Jr., and Emma Smith.
The persecutions in Missouri, and expelling the Church from the state, instead of having a tendency to destroy Mormonism, had the very opposite effect. An increased interest was manifest in the work, and calls were made for the Book of Mormon, but there were none on hand to supply the demand.
There had been two editions printed of that book; the first by E. B. Grandin, in Palmyra, New York, in 1830. The second edition was printed in the Church printing office in Kirtland, Ohio, in the winter of 1836-7. The writer helped set the type for the second edition.
In the spring of 1840 consultation was held upon the subject of getting another edition of the Book of Mormon printed, to supply the demand, when, in view of our extreme poverty, consequent upon our so recently having been driven from our homes, the idea was abandoned, for want of the necessary funds to accomplish such a work.
My health had so far recovered that I was able to walk from my house to the printing office, when, early in May, 1840 as I was walking to the office, I received a manifestation from the Lord, such an one as I never received before or since. It seemed that a ball of fire came down from above and striking the top of my head passed down into my heart, and told me, in plain distinct language, what course to pursue and I could get the Book of Mormon stereotyped and printed. I went into the printing office, and in a few moments Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., he who translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, as I verily know, stepped into the office, when I said to him, “Brother Joseph, if you will furnish $200, and give us the privilege of printing two thousand copies of the Book of Mormon, Carlos and I will get $200 more and we will get it stereotyped and give you the plates.” He dropped his face into his hand for a minute or so, when he said, “I will do it.” He asked how soon we would want the money. I replied in two weeks.
Brother Carlos and I made an effort immediately to obtain our $200. We found a brother in the Church who would let us have $120, until the next April at thirty-five percent interest, the interest to be incorporated in the note, and all to draw six percent interest, if not paid when due. We consented to the terms, and got the money. A few days after, the same brother brought us $25 more, on the same terms, making $145. I took the money and put it away. In a few days Brother Joseph Smith came to the printing office and said, “Brother Robinson, if you and Carlos get the Book of Mormon stereotyped you will have to furnish the money, as I cannot get the $200.” I replied, that if “he would give us the privilege of printing four thousand copies we would do it.” He said he “would do that.” We then made a strenuous effort to raise more money, but signally failed, and did not succeed in raising another dollar for that purpose.
We were considerably in debt to different persons, and our creditors were repeatedly pressing us for money, so that after a little time we began to draw a few dollars from the $145. We knew that it would not do to be paying thirty-five percent interest for money to pay ordinary debts with, so Carlos said to me, one day in June, “Brother Robinson, you take that money and go to Cincinnati and buy some type and paper, which we must have.” I said, “Yes, I will go, but I will not come home until the Book of Mormon is stereotyped,” for it was as fire shut up in my bones, both day and night, that if I could only get to Cincinnati the work could be accomplished. He replied that “that was out of the question, as it could not be done with our limited means.” Brother Hyrum Smith also said it could not be done, but Brother Joseph Smith did not say it could not be done, when I told him, but he said, “God bless you.”
Brother Joseph and I immediately went to work and compared a copy of the Kirtland edition with the first edition, by reading them entirely through, and I took one of the Kirtland edition as a copy for the stereotype edition.
On the 18th of June, 1840, I took passage on board the steam packet, Brazil, which made regular trips from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Galena, Illinois, stopping at Nauvoo, as she passed each way. At St. Louis, while the steamer was waiting for passengers and freight, I foolishly stepped into a mock auction store, when the auctioneer had up a fancy box filled with valuable articles, (?) among which was a gold watch, or what the auctioneer claimed to be one. A young man present said he wanted an interest in the contents of the box, and if I would bid it off he would take half of it. I bid it up to $23, when of course I secured the prize, but just then I did not find my partner ready to take half. This took $23 from my already limited purse. I left that auction room, if not a better, I trust, a wiser man. Since writing the above sentence, the thought has occurred, to me that perhaps it was a good thing that it occurred, as it had a tendency to try my faith just that much more, and the sequel proved to me that the Lord is abundantly able and willing to provide means for the accomplishment of his purposes, when we follow his directions.
After arriving at Cincinnati [Ohio], I purchased a quantity of paper and put on board the Brazil to take to Nauvoo on her return trip. After paying for the paper and paying my passage, I had $105.06¾ left. Now came the trial of my faith. I had not yet taken my trunk from the steamer. The adversary of all righteousness said to me, “Get more paper and some type and go home; it is folly to think of getting the Book of Mormon stereotyped, for you can not do it.” I replied that “I came for that purpose, and did not propose to return until it was done,” but I assure you he made the big drops of sweat roll from my face, but I did not give up to him for one instant, or swerve from my purpose, although I was there a stranger in a strange city, not knowing a single person there, except those who came with me on the steamer.
I took the Book of Mormon in my pocket and made inquiry for a stereotype foundry. I was informed there was one on Pearl Street. I found the place, and as I stepped into the office a feeling of horror came over me and it seemed as though I was in prison. A gentlemanly- appearing man was there, and I asked him what they charged for stereotyping a book, giving him the size as near as I could without naming or showing him the book. He told me what they charged for one thousand ems, a term which I understood. I then asked him if there was another stereotype foundry in the city. He said, “Yes, one in Bank Alley, off Third Street, owned by Gleason and Shepherd.” I felt in an instant that that was the place for me to apply to, and bidding the gentleman “Good day,” breathing freer when I stepped into the street.
I soon found the other foundry, and as I entered the office, I saw three gentlemen standing by the desk, in conversation. I asked if Messrs. Gleason and Shepherd were in. A gentleman stepped forward and said, “My name is Gleason.” I said, “I have come to get the Book of Mormon stereotyped.” Mr. Shepherd stepped forward and said, “When that book is stereotyped I am the man to stereotype it.” I then handed him the book and told him what size type I wanted it done in. He took the book and went to a case of type the size I had named, and set up one line and counted the ems in the line, then counted the number of lines in the page and multiplied the two numbers together, and then counted the number of pages in the book, and multiplied the number of pages by the number of ems in a page, when he said the stereotyping would amount to five hundred and fifty dollars. I told him that I had one hundred dollars to pay in hand, and would pay two hundred and fifty dollars more in three months, or while he was doing the work, and the remaining two hundred dollars within three months after the work was done. He said he would do that, and sat down and immediately wrote out a contract accordingly, which we both signed, which contract I have to this day.
I then told him I wished to see a bookbinder and contract for the binding of two thousand copies of the book. He said I will go with you to a good bookbinder around on Main Street, and taking me by the arm, we went directly to the bookbinder, who said he would bind two thousand copies in good leather for two hundred and fifty dollars; which was twelve and a half cents apiece. I told him I would give him eighty dollars while he would be doing the work, and the remainder within six weeks after the work was done. He agreed to that, and wrote out a contract to that effect, which we both signed. I told Mr. Shepherd I wanted to engage paper enough for the two thousand books, when we went from the bindery to the paper warehouse where I had just purchased the paper I sent to Nauvoo; but the paper dealer, the proprietor was not in, so we left word for him to come to Mr. Shepherd’s the next morning, which he did, when I engaged the paper from him amounting to nearly two hundred and fifty dollars to be paid for in payments similar to the stereotyping and binding, but we did not write the contract. After we had concluded our bargain the paper dealer said, “Mr. Robinson, you are a stranger here, and it is customary to have city reference in such cases when we deal with strangers.” Mr. Shepherd stepped forward and said, “I am Mr. Robinson’s backer, sir.” “All right,” said the paper dealer, “you can have the paper, Mr. Robinson.” This was the only place where any reference, or backing was required.
Mr. Shepherd purchased a font of new type the day we made the contract, and put three compositors (typesetters) immediately at work on the book, and I was to remain and assist in reading the proof, so as to be sure it was done according to copy. I was to have twenty-five cents an hour for what time I would be engaged at that, or any other service for Mr. Shepherd, to be applied on the contract.
I engaged board with Mr. S. W. A. Oliver, who was in Mr. Shepherd’s employ as a moulder and finisher of his stereotype plates, and paid him the five dollars I had left, after paying Mr. Shepherd the one hundred on this contract, leaving me only 6¾ cents (an old-fashioned Spanish sixpence) on hand. The five dollars was soon boarded out, and there I was, a stranger in a strange city, with contracts on hand amounting to over one thousand dollars on which only one hundred had been paid, and board bill due and nothing to pay with. I confess that for a time, viewed from a worldly standpoint, it looked quite gloomy, but I never for a moment lost faith in the final success, or literal fulfillment of the previous promise of the Lord made to me in Nauvoo. In the meantime I had written to Brother Don Carlos Smith telling him what I had done, and also to several brethren in the eastern states requesting them to get subscribers for the book, offering them one hundred and twenty books for every one hundred dollars sent us in advance, in time to meet our engagements. It was several weeks before I received a response.
The first money I received, Brother Don Carlos Smith sent me a twenty dollar bill on the state bank of Indiana, a specie-paying bank, the bills of which were at a premium of 13 percent, so that I realized $22.60 for the $20. This relieved me of present financial embarrassment. Not long after this, my brother, Joseph L. Robinson, who resided in Boonsville, Oneida County, New York, whom I had baptized into the Church, when on a mission to that state in the summer and fall of 1836, sent me a draft on the Leather Manufacturer’s Bank of New York City, for $96. This was also at a premium of thirteen percent. Brother John A Forgeus, of Chester County, Pennsylvania, who now resides at Little Sioux, Harrison County, Iowa, then a perfect stranger to me, whom I had never seen, sent me a draft on a Philadelphia bank for two hundred dollars, as a loan, which I afterwards paid him in Nauvoo. Several other brethren sent me money in advance for books, so that I paid Mr. Shepherd all his money before it became due, and gave the bookbinder eighty dollars on his contract before he had done any work on it, and when I was ready for the paper to print them on, the paper dealer with whom I had contracted for the paper on time, did not have it on hand of the size and quality I wanted, when I went to another paper dealer who had the article I wanted, and paid him all cash-in-hand for the paper, and had the books printed on a power press, for which I paid the cash-in-hand as the work was done.
I had the printing progressing before the stereotyping was finished, so that by the time the last twenty-four pages of stereotype plates were finished, the printer had the book all printed, except the last form, of twenty-four pages, and the printed sheets were in the hands of the bookbinder being folded, so that soon after this last form was printed, the bookbinder had several hundred copies bound, ready for me to deliver to those who had advanced their money for the books. This was strictly in accordance with the instruction I received in the first manifestation made to me in Nauvoo.
Thus the work was accomplished, and all paid for before the time specified in the contracts, and I had nearly one thousand copies left. The work was finished in October.
I then purchased from Mr. Shepherd and other parties several fonts of type, and material for a stereotype foundry and bookbindery, and winter’s supply of news and book paper, and took to Nauvoo, a considerable portion of which I paid for down, and got credit for the balance. Mr. Shepherd endorsed one note for me of four hundred dollars, payable in four months, which I sent him before it became due.
In June, 1841, I went to Cincinnati and settled all up with Mr. Shepherd, and paid him what was due him, (his bills altogether amounting to about $1,000,), when he arose and said, “Mr. Robinson, do you want to know what made me do as I did when you came here last summer, it was no business way, it was not what I saw in you, but what I felt here,” putting his hand upon his heart.
This voluntary statement of Mr. Shepherd’s afforded me great pleasure, as it was a practical illustration of the case with which the Lord can move upon the hearts of the children of men to assist in the accomplishment of his work and purposes; and to our Heavenly Father be all the praise and glory, now and ever, amen.
From the foregoing experience, together with many other evidences which I have received of the truth of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, I bear record that it is true, and that the promises and prophecies contained therein are being and will be fulfilled to the letter. May the Lord help us to walk according to its holy precepts, that we may be able to stand in the day of his visitation and power, which is coming as a whirlwind upon the nations, and that we may be worthy to enter into his rest, is my earnest desire. E. ROBINSON