. . . . .
I shall now relate a few incidents of my religious experience up to the day of my marriage. When I was very small child, my mother, being a very strict Presbyterian, would often converse with me and tell me about Heaven and Hell, God, Jesus Christ, the Devil, etc., and when but eight years of age I had quite a correct idea of those beings according to the precept of men in those days, and sometimes when meditating upon them, I would weep bitterly, considering myself a sinner in the sight of God. I well recollect a time when my parents both gave me a scolding upon some trifling occasion. I thought I had not a friend in heaven, earth, or hell, and went by myself and wept.
And thought unto the brook I’d go,
And drown myself and end my woe,
For if I drowned myself, thought I,
My soul will under water die.
So I started and went to a small brook not far distant, and selected a place for that purpose, but while reflecting upon the subject a thought occurred to me that it was a temptation from the devil, and so I desisted from my purpose and returned home.
When reading the New Testament, I would often wonder why people did not baptize for the remission of sins and why the gifts of the gospel did not follow the believer as anciently and thought if I ever became a servant of God, I never would be satisfied without the power to preach the gospel and heal the sick that the ancients had. I sought every opportunity to attend religious meetings of every denomination with no other motive than to obtain a knowledge of the religion of Jesus Christ. When fifteen and sixteen years of age, my mind was greatly wrought up in reference to this subject. I would often sit up all night to read religious tracts and papers by fire light, for my father, being poor, could spare me no time to read by daylight. I also read the Bible with much attention, and joy would come springing into my heart with a testimony that the time would come when I should come in possession of that which I most desired: namely, the faith that was once delivered to the Saints.
When eighteen years of age, my mind became more at rest because professors of religion of all denominations told me that I had experienced religion. But yet I was not fully satisfied myself because I had not been baptized for the remission of my sins and received the Holy Ghost, or spirit, according to the New Testament, but was told that all these things were done away; so I concluded to content myself for the time being, seeing that they were not practiced. About this time I commenced writing religious songs and hymns upon various subjects, some of which may be found in Zions Songster, or the Songs of Joel, a work of my own, but many are lost. . . . . .
In my 23rd year, I was baptized by Elder Richard M. Carey, a Free-Will Baptist preacher and united with the Free-Will Baptist at Forest Ville, Chataqua County, New York. About this time the Universalists had formed a church in the neighborhood where I lived and were making many proselytes, upon the subject of which I wrote a poem entitled “Anti-Universalism” which put a damper on their proselyting and gained me much credit among the different religionists of other denominations. I having gained some credit as a poet (though I took none to myself) the Presbyterians offered to give me a collegiate education if I would embrace their tenets and become a preacher of their sect. I thanked them and told them I could not bring myself under an obligation of that kind to any people.
I have now related the principal incidents of my life, both in temporal and religious affairs, up to the date of my marriage in 1826. My circumstances at this time were good for a young man; having paid for my farm and mill, our being anxious to obtain this world’s goods, I purchased an adjoining farm which brought me several hundred dollars in debt, and to pay these debts in 1827, I took a job to build a saw mill, which I agreed to do, and furnish all the materials myself and warrant the dam against credit, and went to work and soon put the mill in operation; for the want of a rock to build upon, I had built upon sand, and when the floods came, my mill-dam was torn from its foundation and great was the fall to me; for when my creditors saw my situation, they came upon me and took away all that I had and left me worse than nothing; and with the fall of property, fell my constitution also on account of excessive fatigue and labor in water, etc.
In the year 1829 I invented a machine for striking shingles from a block at one blow, being the original inventor of this principle. I sold many rights which helped me considerable, but being honest myself and supposing everyone else to be the same, I soon was swindled out of the largest part of my rights, and being highly disappointed and discouraged on account of my misfortunes, I concluded to leave the home of my youth and seek an asylum among strangers. Accordingly in the fall of 1830 I left home for the state of Ohio, and after traveling the state mostly over to find a location for my family, I found an old acquaintance of my boyhood in the town of Amherst, Lorain County, by the name of John Clay, who invited me to move my family in to his house and join him in building a saw mill. I accordingly entered company with him and went to work. I sent for my family who arrived in the month of January. By the first of April, 1831, we had a saw mill nearly half completed.
About this time there was considerable excitement about the Mormons at Kirtland where there had been a branch of the church built up, and Joseph Smith had arrived at that place and held a conference and was sending out elders through the country; and many evil reports were in circulation concerning them which most of the people believed to be true. I obtained the Book of Mormon and read it. Some was filled with prejudice on account of the evil reports in circulation that I returned it before I had read it through. But soon there arrived two Mormon elders in the neighborhood by the names of Harvey Whitlock and Edson Fuller who preached upon the first principles of the Gospel, treating upon faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins with the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, with signs following the believer, etc. This preaching filled me with astonishment, it being the first discourse that I had ever heard that corresponded with the New Testament. But when they spoke of the Book of Mormon, they made it equal to the Bible. But my prejudice was so great against the book, that I would not receive their testimony. I heard them twice and concluded to stay at home, but they continued preaching in the vicinity and soon commenced baptizing. In a few days Lyman Wright, Samuel H. Smith, and others came to their assistance, and in a few weeks they baptized about fifty in the vicinity.
All this time I had kept at home except for the first two meetings. My wife, who had always been a strong Methodist, had a desire at this time to attend their meetings which were held every day, and I gave my consent, for I never would abridge one’s liberty in religious matters. She attended several meetings and began to believe in the work, and myself having searched the Bible daily while staying at home, began to think that work might possibly be true. I therefore concluded to adhere to the advice of Paul “to prove all things and hold fast the good.” I accordingly came to the conclusion to take my Bible in hand and attend all their meetings and investigate and subject thoroughly with prayer for Divine direction which I did for several days, comparing their preachings with the scriptures which brought me to the following conclusions: Firstly, that as all Protestant sects had sprung from the Church of Rome, they have no more authority to administer in the ordinances of the Church of Christ than the Church of Rome had, and if she was the mother of harlots, they must consequently be her daughters; therefore, none of them could be called the Church of Christ. Secondly, that a supernatural power did attend the Mormon Church, and it had risen independent of all denominations; therefore, its origin must be from Heaven or Hell. Thirdly, that it is unreasonable to suppose that God would suffer the devil to bring forth a work with the gifts and blessings of the ancient Church of Christ corresponding with that which he has promised to bring forth in the last days for the gathering of the House of Israel and by that means lead astray all the honest men of the earth. And fourthly, that as the principles taught in the Book of Mormon corresponded with the Bible and doctrine of the Church was the same that was taught by Christ and his apostles with signs following the believer, I concluded that the work was of God and embraced with all my heart and soul, and was baptized on the first day of June 1831, by Elder Sylvester Smith. My wife had been baptized a few days previous.
I then immediately sold out my share in the sawmill and endeavored to prepare myself for whatever my calling might be, and on the 24th of August, 1831, I was ordained a teacher; and on the 20th of September 1831, I was ordained an Elder and received the following license:
A license, liberty, and authority given to Joel H. Johnson, certifying and proving that he is an Elder of this Church of Christ, established and regularly organized in these last days, A.D. 1830 on the 6th day of April. All of which has been done by the will of God the Father, according to His holy calling and the power of the Holy Ghost agreeable to the revelations of Jesus Christ, given to Joseph Smith, Jr., the first Elder of the Church, signifying that he has been baptized and received into the Church according to the articles and covenants of the Church. Done on the 20th day of September in Amherst, Loraine County, and State of Ohio, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one.
Sign and Seal Sylvester Smith . . . . .
Having lost my health and property (as before mentioned) in 1827 and 28 and not being able to do any labor and having but little means to sustain my family, it was thought best for me to stay at home and not travel; and I was appointed to preside over the Church at Amherst and labor what I could in its vicinity until the Lord should open my way for further usefulness I attended the conference held in the town of Orange in Ohio in the month of October where I first beheld the face of the Prophet and Seer, Joseph Smith. When I was introduced to him, he laid his hands upon my shoulder and said unto me, “I suppose you think that I am a great, green, lubberly fellow.”
His expression was an exact representation of his person, being large and tall, and not a particle of beard about his face. I conversed with him very freely upon many subjects relative to his mission and received much instruction and was highly edified and blessed of the Lord during the conference and returned home rejoicing.
…I then went to Kirtland and being counseled by President Joseph Smith, I made a purchase of land and moved my family to Kirtland about the last of July  and commenced making brick for the House of the Lord, then to be built in that place; in which business I labored until the 25th of September of the same year. But the brick was not used for that purpose because the Church concluded to build the house of stone.
On the 26th of August, 1835 I left home in company with Elder Ezra Thornton to travel and preach the gospel for a short time in the southeast part of the State of Ohio. . . . . .
I have not labored but little with my own hands on the Lord’s House [Kirtland Temple] on the account of bodily infirmity, but yet I have contributed of my means such as cash, lumber, stock, and other property–all that lay in my power consistent with my poor health and indigent circumstances. The building of the temple in Kirtland was a great undertaking considering the poverty and minority of the church, and it required the utmost exertion of every member to accomplish so great an undertaking; for we had but very few friends among the world while we had thousands of enemies who were holding their secret meetings to devise a plan to thwart and overthrow all our arrangements. We were obliged to keep night watchers to prevent being mobbed and our workers being overthrown; but the Lord had promised [prophecy] to keep a stronghold in Kirtland for the space of five years; therefore we were warned of all the devices of our enemies in time to elude them until the temple was completed, the saints endowed and the five years expired.
On the eighth day of March, 1835, all the male members of the Church were called together to be blessed under the hands of the First Presidency of the Church for their faithfulness in building the Lord’s House. I was also blessed with the rest of the brethren at the same time. I was present at nearly all the most important meetings and councils of the Church; was present at the calling and ordination of the Twelve Apostles, also at the calling and ordination of the First Seventy Elders and their presidents. I also received my endowments in the House of the Lord in the winter and Spring of 1836 with the rest of the Elders by ordinations, washings, anointings, sealings, etc. I attended all the meetings previous to the dedication and also the dedication on the 27th day of March, 1836, with the meetings and councils that followed and saw and heard much of the power of God manifested as mentioned in the life of Joseph Smith. I was also chosen a member of the second quorum of Seventies and received my ordination as such.
My health continues very poorly as it has done for many years, and brethren thought that I was declining with the pulmonary consumption in consequence of which I told them at a fast meeting in the Lord’s House (Father Joseph Smith presiding) that I was contending against all their faith for they all believed that I would not live long. But I believed that I would live many years, and if they would pray for and exercise faith with me, I believed that I should measurably recover; to which they all agreed, and from that time began to enjoy better health.
In the summer of 1836, [winter of 1836-1837] the brethren in Kirtland formed themselves into a banking institution called the Kirtland Safety Society. This institution could have proved the salvation of the nation if it had been left to carry out its own measures, but the enemies of the church crushed it in its bud which proves that no institution founded upon righteous principles can flourish in so corrupt a nation as the United States.
From the above date to December 7th, 1837, I have traveled but a little but preached in company with Father Joseph Smith and others in the vicinity of Kirtland and other places whenever the opportunity offered and baptized during the time ten persons. . . . . .
I would here remark in addition to the above that when I first came to Carthage in January, 1839, I rented an old vacant storehouse with several rooms into which I moved my family. I had not been here long before Sidney Rigdon, Bishop Partridge, and others who had fled from Far West on account of mob violence called on me while on their way to old Commerce to seek a location for the Saints who were then being driven from the State of Missouri And as soon as the authorities of the Church had concluded to make old Commerce (since Nauvoo) a location for the Saints, they came flocking into Hancock County and on hearing that I was in Carthage bent their course thither and made my house a stopping place until they could find a suitable location for the saints for the time being. I had by this time through my labor and the blessing of the Heavenly Father rooted out much of the prejudice existing in the minds of the people in reference to the difficulties at Far West and gained many warm friends to the Saints in and about the vicinity of Carthage; which was a great benefit to the Saints in exile who were seeking in Hancock County an asylum from mob violence, for I had baptized several in the vicinity of Carthage, and also I had baptized several and organized a branch of the Church at Crooked Creek, eight miles distant in what was called the Perkins Settlement.
On the eighteenth of February, 1840, I moved my family on to the west branch of Crooked Creek, having previously purchased a sawmill and piece of land where I labored during the Spring and summer for the support of my family and preached on the Sabbath to the brethren. About the first of July I appointed a meeting of the Church to take into consideration the subject of organizing a stake in the Crooked Creek Branch. The Saints met and unanimously agreed to establish a stake if it agreed with the minds of the First Presidency. Accordingly on the 9th the Church met and heard the report of the committee of a stake and gave directions for its organization.
I was unanimously elected the president of the Stake and _______ was elected first councilor, and Ebenezer Page was elected my second councilor or chosen Bishop; and Elijah B. Gaylord and William C. Perkins his councilors. The High Council was then elected, and after some other business, the meeting was adjourned until the 15th when President Hyrum Smith was expected to be present to ordain those who had been elected to office.
From this time on I began to make arrangements to build me a house in town so as to move in before fall; but sometime in August my wife was taken sick with the nervous fever, and one after another of my family was taken sick with chills and fever until they were all sick but myself. My wife lingered about five weeks and expired. In the fore part of her sickness she manifested some uneasiness about her future state until one morning she awoke with a smile on her countenance and said to me that the Lord had spoken to her that night and said to her,
“Go daughter; sleep in peace and rest.”
From that time her mind was at rest about her future state but she said that she should not live. Her greatest anxiety was about her friends that had not received the gospel for which she almost constantly prayed. She also manifested much anxiety about her family. She talked to and about her children much; she would often throw her arms around my neck and exclaim,
“O, Joel, how I feel for you! It will soon be well with me, but what will you do with the children when I am gone?”
A few days before she died, she clasped her arms around my neck and said, “I have been all night thinking about you and the children; I know that you cannot take care of them alone when I am gone; you must get you another companion I have been trying to think on one for you, but you must select one for yourself. I now feel satisfied to leave my children for the Lord has told me that they will be as well taken care of as they would be if I had the care of them myself.”
After this she manifested no more uneasiness about her family and fell asleep the 11th day of September 1840, rejoicing in the hope of a glorious resurrection among the just. She was a kind and attentive companion and a tender and affectionate mother.
O lovely one, and hast thou gone,
While in life’s early bloom,
And left me here to weep alone,
My loved one in the tomb?
Must I in life ne’er see thee more,
Thou lovely one so dear;
Has death thee from my bosom tore,
No more my heart to cheer?
Yes, death has chilled thy loving heart,
And thou art from me torn!
Yet we shall meet, no more to part,
Where none are left to mourn.
Then I shall cease my grief and woe,
Nor let my heart repine;
The loving gem I’ve lost below
Shall soon again be mine.
Shine on, thou lovely gem so dear;
In you sweet world of light;
I soon shall come to meet thee there
And claim thee as my right.
After my family had recovered their health a little so that I could leave home, I went to work again on my house which I had been building in Ramus. On the 20th day of October, I took to wife by marriage Miss Susan Bryant, daughter of Charles Bryant. (She had assisted in taking care of my former wife through her sickness)
In the month of November, I moved my family into Ramus having previously sold my farm and sawmill, etc. I continued to preach to the church almost every Sabbath during the winter and spring of 1841 while our town increased rapidly and love and union seemed to prevail, and peace and plenty filled our hearts with joy; but in the latter part of the summer we began to discover that false brethren had crept in among us unaware who began to preach things contrary to the revelations of God by saying it was no harm to steal from our enemies, especially the Missourians and there was no harm in meeting together and drinking spirits and having a spree now and then, shivareeing our neighbors together upon wedding occasions to make them hand over the grog and good things. To carry out their object of stealing and other wickedness more fully, they formed themselves into a secret combination and held their weekly meetings secretly. I protested against their principles as they taught which caused them to try to influence the brethren against me which they in their part succeeded to do by their smooth words and fair speeches, for some of them stood high in office, both ecclesiastical and military. One of them was my first counselor and captain of a rifle company in the Nauvoo Legion, and another was a bishop of the stake and brevet major in the Nauvoo Legion, with four of the High Council, one of which was a captain of a company of Lancers in the Nauvoo Legion, with ten or twelve elders, which formed a quorum which thought themselves someone.
At the September muster of the Nauvoo Legion, the companies from Ramus encamped by themselves, and the officers, suffering drunkenness and lewd conduct in camp, disgusting many of the brethren who on their return to Ramus made bitter complaint to me of their conduct; therefore on the next Sabbath I took the stand and commenced preaching on the subject of intemperance, whereupon the Bishop arose and ordered me to desist, declaring that I should not preach upon that subject. I told him if the Church had appointed him to preside that I would sit down and let him go ahead; if not, to sit down himself and pay attention to his own business, upon which my first counselor arose and declared that they had heard that I was going to preach upon the subject and had come to stop me–upon which I called a vote of the congregation to know whether I should proceed with my discourse or not. The vote carried in the affirmative. I then called for order, but the Bishop and his colleagues kept up such a confusion that no order was to be had. After hearing their abuses for a while I left the house and went home.
A few days afterward I called the church together to know what was to be done, upon which some of their men brought a complaint against me for leaving the house on the Sabbath before I acknowledged that I had done wrong in leaving the house on the Sabbath before, and accordingly asked forgiveness of the church which was unanimously granted. I told them that I had ought to have sent for a peace officer and had those peace breakers punished according to the law instead of leaving the house for which neglect I felt to regret; but the clan being determined to justify themselves in their proceeding, we concluded to adjourn the meeting for a few days for further consideration at which time the church came together again to see what could be done in reference to our difficulties; upon which those men (after finding all their eloquence and smooth words they could not gain the majority of the church in their favor) concluded to make a partial confession which they did to keep themselves from being disfellowshipped by the Church. But I soon found that their hatred towards me was not diminished in the least for upon all occasions when we met in council to transact church and other business, they would lay a snare for me by trying to make me an offender for a word, etc.
On the 4th day of November 1841, the High Council met (this meeting proved to be the last) to transact business, when the Bishop (though not a member of the Council) endeavored to take the lead of all the business for which I rebuked him which made him very angry with me; upon which my first counselor with the four High Councilors (before to) took sides with him and seemed very much pleased at the disagreement. My first counselor said that he had been praying that something would transpire that would place the odium of all the difficulties in Ramus on the right one, to which I responded, “Amen,” insinuating that I was the black sheep. The next day after this meeting, my first counselor with four others of the clan left Ramus upon some business meeting of their own secret concoction, and in a few days we received a letter from some of them that the whole five were in Mammoth Jail for stealing. Then I saw that my first councilor’s prayers were answered upon his own head, he being one of the principal leaders of the clan. On the 18th day of November the church being together with Elder Brigham Young, Richards and Savage from Nauvoo, and having examined witnesses on the case of the above named five persons who were in jail it was unanimously resolved that the whole five be expelled from the church. On the 4th of December, 1841, the church met in conference, Hyrum Smith, B. Young, John Taylor, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, and others from Nauvoo were present. After considering our difficulties it was resolved to disorganize the stake, after which John Lausen was appointed to preside which relieved me from cares and perplexities of the mind from which I had long wished to be honorably released on account of my poor health.
I have forgotten to mention in its place that I received a patriarchal blessing under the hand of Father Joseph Smith, first patriarch of the church while in Kirtland of which I never received a copy. I was also blessed by Father John Smith, brother to the first patriarch of which the following is a copy:
A blessing by patriarch John Smith upon the head of Joel Hills Johnson, January 18, 1844. Joel H. Johnson, born in Grafton, Massachusetts, March 23rd, 1802.
“Brother Joel, I lay my hands upon thy head to seal upon thee a father’s blessing, thou art of the blood of Ephraim and thy father not being in the church hath no priesthood to bless thee. I pray the Lord to grant through His spirit and power a blessing upon thee such as thy heart desireth. Thou hast seen much affliction in thy day and waded through seas of sorrow and inasmuch as thou has been patient, the Lord shall bless thee with a multiplicity of blessings. Thou shalt be delivered from thy fears, thy family shall be blessed with health, wisdom and understanding. And thou shalt hold the priesthood forever, and the mysteries thereof shall be unfolded by thy understanding far beyond what has entered my heart. Thou shalt have power to administer in the name of Jesus Christ, and no power shall oppose thee. Thou shalt have power to command the winds and the waves to ride upon the wings of wind so mighty and great shall be thy faith. The Lord shall give His angels charge over thee to deliver thee in time of danger and feed thee in time of famine; and thou shalt converse with them face to face as a man converseth with his friend. Thy children shalt be multiplied around thee and grow up like olive plants. They shall be numerous and a great and mighty people shall rise up and call thee blessed. Notwithstanding thou has seen much poverty, thy wants shall all be satisfied. I also bless thee with every blessing thy heart desireth, and I seal thee up unto eternal life to inherit thrones, dominions, principalities, and power to bring all thy children with thee in due time. If thou observe the Word of Wisdom and eternal life, all these blessings shall be thine. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. . . . . .
June 27,1844. On this memorial day, Hyrum Smith, the patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Joseph Smith, the Prophet, seer and the president of this said church were martyred in Carthage Jail by a lawless band or mob painted black numbering about 150 or 200 persons. This perpetuated about 5 o’clock pm. Hyrum was shot first and fell exclaiming: “I am a dead man!” Joseph leaped through the window and was shot dead in the attempt, exclaiming, “O Lord, My God!” They were both shot after they were dead, and both received four balls. John Taylor was wounded in a savage manner, but W. Richards escaped unhurt. Hyrum and Joseph were imprisoned not for crime but by the malice of their enemies. The governor of the State of Illinois pledged his honor that they should both be protected from mob violence and returned again to Nauvoo after their trial which pledge he wickedly forfeited. . . . . .
December 19th, almost five months has sickness preyed upon me, and yet I have but little prospect of immediate recovery of my health; yet I am poor, destitute and distressed, having been robbed of all that I possessed and driven to this place contrary to will, and sickness compels me to winter in a cabin twelve feet by sixteen feet square without any floor with a family of eight persons. My possessions in Hancock from which I have been driven, I estimate at two thousand dollars at a low rate. . . . . .
I have said very little in regard to the mobs that have followed the church from its organization on the 6th of April 1830 to its final expulsion from the United States to the valleys of the mountains in 1847, my main object having been to relate a few of the principal incidents of my own life. But I would here say that after the massacre of the Patriarch Hyrum Smith and the Prophet Joseph there was a short rest for the Saints in Hancock County for the mob supposed that after the heads of the church were defeated that the church would be broken up and scattered, and that would be the end to Mormonism. But in this they were mistaken for they found that the church was more determined than ever to carry out the measures of their ever beloved and martyred patriarch and prophet. When they saw this, they were infuriated more than ever. In September 1845 they commenced burning houses and other buildings and destroying property and driving the Saints from their homes with a full determination to drive the whole society, which they succeeded to accomplish in the spring of 1846.
I was running my saw mill on Crooked Creek, and sometime in March myself and wife were absent to Nauvoo, an armed mob surrounded my house and told my little children that if their father and family did not leave the country immediately that they would take their lives and destroy their property. But I have no means to get away with for I could not sell property for anything that would move me away. So I kept on running the mill and fulfilling a few small contracts that I had taken in order to raise a little means to help myself away until about the first of May when about 2 o’clock in the morning I was awakened by the tramping of horses and heard a voice calling me to the door I arose and went to the door and discovered that my house was surrounded by a mob of about one hundred men with guns, swords, pistols, and dirks who asked me if I was prepared to leave. I told them that I was. They then told me that if I did not leave the county by the first of June my life would be taken and property destroyed and after warning and threatening me very sharply, they left. I made every exertion in my power to get away by the specified time by the mob, and the last week in May I left the mill and went to Macedonia and stopped at the house of my father until the 30th when I left for Knox County, I suppose that by the spring of 1847 I would be able to fit myself for a journey to join the saints in the West; but on account of sickness and disappointment in the value of my land, I found myself too poor to make the journey and so I was compelled to stay another year (contrary to my will) I rented a farm and moved on to it in the month of April and sowed ten acres of wheat, planted 20 acres of corn and put in other crops of various kinds which produced tolerably well considering the dryness of the season. About the middle of September I was taken sick with the congestive chills and which brought me near unto death and has made me very weak and miserable and prevented me from labor unto the present time, October 8th, 1842.
Having neglected to mention my marriage with Miss Janet Fife, I will here say that she was espoused to me by seal and covenant October 25th, 1845 Father John Smith, Patriarch, officiated. Janet was born in Leith, Scotland, February 17th, 1827, and emigrated to America in 1842.
When she was eighteen did engage
To wed me; forty-three years of age.
In the Spring of 1848 I sold the land that I obtained in exchange for my Hancock property for the sum of ninety dollars in cash and trade I then made every necessary arrangement in my power for my removal to the West, and having obtained three wagons, five yoke of oxen and steers, and a few cows and sheep with necessary provisions, etc, I loaded my wagons and started on the 6th day of May, 1848 for the city of Great Salt Lake in Upper California I came to David Rowe’s in Fulton County the first night and on the 7th, David Rowe and his family started with me for the same place. My family consisted of myself and two women and six children. David Rowe’s family consisted of himself, wife, and four children. We came to Nauvoo where I stopped and visited with my friends. We then crossed over the river to Montrose and stopped with my brother Joseph one week, sheared my sheep, sold the wool, etc. We then started for Winter Quarters and had a very crooked and bad road and had to repair and build many bridges. We arrived at Winter Quarters the first week in June. Here we tarried four weeks, waiting for Doctor Richards and Amasa Lyman’s company.
We started from Winter Quarters in W. Richard’s company on the 5th day of July and the place of our destination and after much fatigue, many hardships, and difficulties, and the loss of one yoke of oxen, one heifer and twenty-two sheep, we arrived in the city of Great Salt Lake on the 19th of October, 1848, having accomplished a Journey of fifteen hundred miles from Knox County, Illinois to Great Salt Lake City in Upper California. . . . . .
I soon built us a small cabin in the mouth of Mill Creek canyon eight miles southeast of the city into which I moved my family on the 19th of November. I was about this time elected Justice of the Peace and also ordained bishop of Mill Creek Ward.
In the summer of 1849 the necessity of organizing a state government was taken into consideration by the inhabitants of Great Salt Lake Valley which, after mature deliberations, it was concluded to carry the object into effect. Accordingly, the State of Deseret was organized with all its official members in the accomplishment of which I was elected a member of the House of Representatives, the first session of which commenced its sitting on the 8th of December, 1849.
In the course of the winter a band of Indian raiders near the Utah settlement after stealing most of the settlers’ cattle, commenced firing at and otherwise abusing the people of the fort, complaint being made by them against the robbers to the heads of the department, who after due consideration thought best to kill the robbers and take their women and children prisoners. Accordingly they went out against them about a hundred armed men who killed twenty-five or thirty of their warriors and took their women and children prisoners who were distributed among the people. I took two women and three children who were all sick, occasioned by exposure after having the measles. The two women and two of the children which were boys lingered several days and died, and left only a little girl about ten years of age and not knowing her Indian name we called her “Virogue.”
March 23, 1850. This day completed the 48th year of my age, and surely few and evil have been my days; for before I embraced the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was on the first day of June, 1831, my life was a continual scene of hardship, sickness, and sorrow. Since that period I have been mobbed and driven from state to state and from place to place in sickness, poverty, and disgrace, my life sought, and robbed of my goods, houses, and land until finally I am driven to the mountains of the Great Internal Basin of Upper California, North America.
Having been selected by G.A. Smith to assist in forming a settlement at the little Salt Lake Valley in the fall of 1850, I sent out with the expedition my two eldest sons, Sixtus and Nephi, with two teams laden with iron for mill building, …
On the 15th day of May, President B. Young and many of the brethren from Great Salt Lake City arrived at our beautiful valley on an exploring and visiting expedition. During their stay they organized our settlement into the city of Parowan, and I was elected a member of the City Council. . . .
On the last day of March, my son Sixtus missed one of his oxen for which he searched most of the day, and at evening it was ascertained that he was driven off by two Indians. On the next day we dispatched a message to Parowan informing the brethren of the circumstances, who on the third day sent out twelve men to search out the thieves who returned without finding them. On the 4th day, my son Sixtus with three others started on the trail of the ox and the Indians and followed them about sixteen miles to where they killed the ox and then tracked the Indians about four miles further where they found them in camp drying the beef. They consisted of two old Indians and two boys, and one about 12 years old and the other about 5. They took them all prisoners and started to bring them home, but when they came to the ford at Coal Creek, the horses refused to cross which when the Indians saw, they all but the youngest crossed the creek and then ran; and as soon as the boys could get their horses across, they rushed on them and fired killing one of the old Indians and wounding the other who escaped with the oldest boy by hiding in the willow–it being quite dark. Then they returned home with the youngest boy, whom I took into my family and called his name “Sam.” . . . . .
Sometime in November my health began to decline very much so that I was not able to do any labor; and I soon discovered that my complaint was dropsy in the chest which brought me so low that I was only able to sit up part of the day at a time; and while reflecting on the scenes of my past life–the sickness–persecutions, and sorrows that has been my lot to pass through from my youth up, and probably of my soon leaving this world of affliction for one more glorious, the words of the Apostle John upon the Isle of Patmos were continually sounding in my ears by night and day: “And he said unto me, write So that I could not rest until I had obtained the necessary materials and commenced writing when my mind was led to write songs and hymns upon the suffering of the Saints, the principles that appertain to the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth in the last days, etc, the spirit of which is like fire in my bones and I have no rest unless occupied in that way. (He wrote “High on the Mountain Top” Feb. 18, 1853.)
Towards Spring through the prayers of the Saints and the blessings of my Heavenly Father, my health commenced to mend slowly and continued until I was able to attend to some business but not to labor. I employed myself in writing as before mentioned until the 23rd of July, 1853 (the 24th being on Sunday) when I met with the brethren of Parowan to celebrate the 24th; and on the 25th the brethren from Parowan, with myself, met with the brethren in Cedar and celebrated the 24th, and we had a good time in both places. And on the 26th an express arrived from G.S.L. City, informing us that Walker’s band of Indians had made war against the inhabitants of the territory and had killed one or more brethren and had driven away many of their cattle. Orders were also received from the governor-that all the out settlements should immediately repair to some fortified post.
Accordingly, on the 28th the brethren from Cedar and Parowan relieved me of the herd. I then packed up my family and household furnitures and moved into Cedar Fort of the City; . . .
On the 20th of November Brother Snow and Richards called a conference at the new meeting house in Cedar City to make arrangements in regard to the missionaries and do some business as was necessary for the inhabitants of Iron County, and at the conference I was appointed to return in the spring to my farm at the Springs and establish a missionary station to teach the Indians to labor and to teach them the principles of civilization and establish a school to educate their children. My sons were also to be my assistants. They were appointed as missionaries to all the Indian tribes on the continent of America I was also to take to my assistance any help that I should deem necessary. Although my health was very poor and means limited, yet I made every arrangement through the winter by securing building material, etc. that lay in my power to forward the work in the spring. But when spring came, the herd also came to me on my hands again, which blighted all my prospects of filling my mission in reference to the Indians as it had before in reference to beet raising, sugar manufacturing, etc. . . . . .
November 27th, 1856. On this day was Hyrum, my fifth child by my wife Janet, still born though a full-grown, fair child. (Occasioned by a mistake in her attendant.)
Yes, little stranger, thou has fled,
Before earth’s light has shown
Upon thy peaceful, lovely head,
To make life’s sorrow known;
We welcome thee with love and Joy.
But O, what sorrow filled
Our hearts when we beheld our boy
Through sad mistake was killed
At the October Conference the heads of the Church preached the necessity of a reformation among the saints by confessing their own sins against God and their brethren and forsaking the same and by forgiving the sins of others and making restitution for all wrongs as much as possible. This glorious work of reformation and restitution soon commenced in Great Salt Lake City and spread with rapidity to all the branches of the Church; and all who confessed and restored were rebaptized for the last time for the remission of their sins. In this reformation, I began to weigh myself in the scales of righteousness and soon found myself wanting in many respects and saw more the necessity of forgiving my enemies than I ever did before and come fully to the determination to root out every prejudice in my heart against them if any there were remaining and hold no feelings against them but of the best kind. . . . . .
Having been counseled by President Brigham Young to with my sister, Julia Babbitt (who was the widow of the late A. W. Babbitt, who was murdered on the plains in the fall of 1856 by the Cheyenne Indians) go to Council Bluffs City to transact some business appertaining to the estate and also to make what discoveries we could in reference to his death on the plains, I commenced on the first of April to make the necessary arrangements. . . . . The next morning we started for GSL City and arrived at Sister Babbitt’s about ten o’clock in the evening, Tuesday 14th. I stayed with Sister Babbitt a few days and assisted her to get ready. During my stay I blessed Sister Babbitt with her family and my brother-in-law, David Lebaron, with his family and many others. I also, on the 17th received a patriarchal blessing myself under the hands of Isaac Morley as follows:
A patriarchal blessing by Isaac Morley on the head of Joel H. Johnson, son of Ezekiel and Julia Johnson, born March 23rd, 1802, in Grafton, Mass.
Brother Joel H. I place my hands upon thy head by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and I seal a father’s blessing upon thee and ratify all thy former seals that the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob may be realized upon thee. Thou shalt be blest in thy mission and in thy labors and this key shall be a blessing unto thee. Thou shalt be forewarned of any trial, and thou shalt know that all things are right when thy mind is under the influence of peace. This mission will be a good school unto thee for thou wilt realize the spirit of Anti-Christ to a degree that heretofore has not rested upon thee, and I say unto thee in all thy labors and interviews where honesty is found with them that hear thee, thou shalt be prepared and blest in thy council. Thou shalt be prospered and blest to a degree that thou has never realized by communicating the everlasting gospel to those who are honest in heart. Be prudent in thy communications and thy words shall be attended with the blessings of the Lord. Let thy entreaties with them be short, and light will rest upon thy mind and cause the blessings of heaven to rest upon thee. No enemy shall cross thy path and prosper. If any desire thy council, let meekness be thy monitor. Faith shall be increased in thy mind, and I say unto thee thou art of Ephraim, a descendant of the loins of Joseph. And I say unto thee, this seal shall be unto thee a comfort, a lamp in thy path. Thou shalt prosper in business and be blest in communicating tidings to thy brethren and in leaving thy family, and they shall prosper in thy absence. Thou mayest receive this key as a seal of knowledge. And I seal thee up unto eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ, Even so, Amen. . . . . .
Friday, May 1st. (On his journey East) We concluded to stay in camp today; we have good feed, wood and water, and started on our journey tomorrow morning. Apostates in camp.
Apostates in camp, we oft pass by the way,
Who tremble lest vengeance upon them shall fall
With Anti-Christ’s spirit more bitter are they,
Than hell or quintessence of worm wood and gall.
Saturday, 2nd. We started at a little before 8 o’clock. Feel very lonesome traveling with apostates, no meetings, no prayers, no sweet songs, or praise to God, our Heavenly Father….Tuesday, the 5th. Got underway at 8 o’clock and traveled about ten miles and nooned on the Sweetwater at the ford. While the teams were feeding, I walked up the river a short distance and found a grave containing five persons. Four of them died on the 19th and one on the 20th of October, 1856. They belonged to one of the handcart companies. The wolves had uncovered one end of the grave and exposed part of the bodies. I gave a young man 50Ý to fill up the grave again. We camped for the night on the river at the next crossing.
Wednesday, the 6th. We started about the usual time and crossed the Sweetwater three times and turned out our teams for noon. In the afternoon we passed by a grave where there had been several persons buried belonging to one of the handcart companies, but the wolves had dug down and devoured them as their grave clothes and pieces of bones were scattered around the grave. We camped for the night on the river.
Though flesh and bones of righteous ones
By wolves may be devoured,
They shall again with Christ to reign–
In glory be restored. . . . . .
Saturday, the 23rd. Started on a little before 8 o’clock I went ahead and arrived at Fort Laramie a little past ten o’clock. Myself and Sister Babbitt went to see the commander of the Post in order to get some information in regards to the murder of her husband by the Indians. My sister requested him to make a statement in writing of the information that he had received through the French traders from the Indians in regard to the matter, which he at first promised to do, but afterwards sent for me and told me that he could do nothing about it. He said that he had no doubt but that the Indians killed and plundered Colonel Babbitt. I am confident that the reason why he was unwilling to make a written statement of the matter was that he was afraid he would lose favor in the eyes of those who were opposed to the inhabitants of Utah. We purchased a few necessaries and drove about ten miles down the river and camped for the night. . . . . .
May Tuesday 26th. We started at the usual time and passed Chimney Rock about nine o’clock and a few miles below, we overtook a company of nine wagons and nineteen men, mostly apostates who had left us at Devil’s Gate and gone ahead; and they came thus far, were afraid of the Indians and stopped for us to come up. Agreeable to their wishes we took them into our company….
Friday, June 5th. This morning we started early to cross the river to Fort Kearney.. . . We saw Captain Wharton and obtained from him a bundle of papers belonging to the late A. W. Babbitt, secretary of Utah. Said papers were picked up on the ground where Mr. Babbitt was murdered by some French traders who delivered them to Captain Wharton, he reserving five drafts amounting to one thousand dollars each and one note of some over eight thousand dollars which he had been ordered to return to Washington City. Captain Wharton and lady said that they had no doubt but what Colonel Babbitt was murdered by the Indians, and he promised to send Mrs. Babbitt a written statement of facts gathered from Indian traders in reference to the matter, but she never heard anything more from the Captain. We purchased a few necessaries and returned across the river to our camp. …
Sunday, June 7th. This morning started early and nooned on the Prairie Creek near where A. W. Babbitt’s train was broken up last fall by the Indians. We saw the graves where those that were killed were buried, but the wolves had dug them up and devoured them, for we saw their bones, hair and grave clothes scattered about the ground. We camped for the night at the crossing of the creek.
Yes, dead by the thousands have we passed,
Entombed along the road,
When Michael’s trump must call at last
To stand before their God,
Where all receive, for thought and word
And every deed, their just reward. . . . . .
Thursday 11th. Started at the usual time. We passed several newly laid-out towns today and many new houses, and the land is all claimed up several miles back from the river. We traveled about 25 miles today and camped for the night near the Platt River. A man by the name of Clark, an apostate whom I have traveled with most of the way from Salt Lake and who pretended all the way to be a good Mormon, and everything right among the Mormons until tonight, there being a few strangers present, he began to spew out the corruptions of his black heart by saying that he had got into a land or liberty where he dared to speak and declared that the Mormons at Salt Lake were all a G-D– set of hell hounds, murderous thieves, and including all the black catalogue that apostates have to disclose. . . . . .
Saturday October 17th. Sister Babbitt took sick today with a sicking or congestive chill and was confined to her bed until her death. She had medical attendance and all the care possible given her by her relatives and friends, but she departed this life on Friday 23rd of October, 1857, at 5 o’clock in the morning and was buried on Saturday 29th at Council Bluffs City near her mother and other relatives. She died in the full doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, beloved and respected by all who knew her, both saint and sinners. . . . .
Saturday, 19th of December. Occupied the day mostly in copying the SONGS OF JOEL.
Sunday 20th of December. This morning while comparing my own work with the principles of the Celestial law, I feel my leanness more than ever and cry in my heart with the Apostle Paul, “O Wretched man I am. Who shall deliver me from this.” (I might add) load of gentile death with which my nature has been contaminated ever since I was begotten in my mother’s womb. If I ever felt fear and trembling in working out my salvation, it has been of late, but I depend on my Heavenly Father’s assistance. . . . . .
Tuesday, March 16th. Cloudy and rainy; health about the same. Received a letter today from my brother at Washington with NEW YORK HERALD containing Governor Young’s message to the Legislature of Utah and also the resolutions of the legislature to sustain the government in not suffering the U.S. Army now at Fort Bridger to come into Salt Lake City, with some other documents of interest. It seems from what I can gather from the last mail that the administration is determined to urge on their mob proceedings towards Utah by sending out large reinforcements and supplies to the army or mob now on the borders of Utah. Well, let them do as they please. The God of Heaven governs the universe and directs the destinies of all people or nations and has declared in these last days that the people shall prevail and overcome their enemies; therefore, I know that they shall tread them under their feet sooner or later and Zion shall prevail and become the joy of the whole earth and a place of liberty and safety for the oppressed of all nations . . . . .
Tuesday, April 20th. Some ten or a dozen of the brethren came in and took a little native wine with me and had a good time in singing and conversation . . . . .
Monday, April 26th. This morning I arose about six o’clock and went below and found on the table two letters, one directed to me and the other to John Therelkeld, and the girls, Margaret and Jane, gone. I notified Brother Therelkeld, their father, who slept in a room adjoining mine who quickly arose and came down, read his letter, and was very angry. We then read mine. They were both written by Margaret. He then wished me to assist him in finding the girls. I went with him about town making inquiries but got no satisfaction. We then went home and searched for their clothes and found them gone. He then went to Ellisdale but got no satisfaction, and about noon called for paper and wrote a letter to Jane and left with me and told me to give it to her if I ever had an opportunity. (Friday, May 7th . . . Margaret and Mary Jane returned this afternoon.)
Tuesday, August 3rd. Started for Florence at about 11 o’clock. . .The mosquitoes were so thick that the mules rolled incessantly in the sand all night to keep from being devoured. . . . . .
Thursday, Sept. 2nd. Being the first Thursday in the month, it was our day of fasting and prayer. Attended meeting in the Bowery, the Saints mostly together. Had a good time. . . . . .
Sunday, Oct. 3lst. Cloudy again. No meeting held on account of the exposed state of the crops, the balance of the people being requested to save them as a large share of them are already destroyed. . . . . .
Monday, Nov. 8th. Cold and stormy. The High Priest’s quorum met in council at my house in the evening. Among other things considered was the case of Gabriel Cotton who had run over the rules and laws of the city association by jumping land claims and threatening blood if molested. The council agreed unanimous that he could not be sustained or fellowshipped by the saints in Genoa; therefore the teachers were instructed to warn the Saints in Genoa not to have anything to do with him in any shape or form, neither buying or selling and that all who sustained him by trading with him could not be fellowshipped by the saints.
Tuesday, Dec. 2lst. This morning Gabriel Cotton came into town and abused Brother Hudson in a shocking manner and then made an attack upon me in the following manner: As I was walking into Brother Nathan Davis’s door yard, I heard someone calling my name I turned to look and saw a man coming up the street, and when he came near, I saw that it was Cotton. He called to me again and wished me to come into the road for he wanted to talk with me. I, knowing that he had threatened my life, told him that he could talk with me where I was. As I was standing inside Brother Davis’s door yard, he then came up to the fence near where I was standing which was by the side of it. I stood close to the axe with my right hand resting on the top of the handle. He then began to abuse me in a shameful manner I told him to go away and leave me as I wanted nothing to do with him, but he continued his abuse, threatening my life. I told him if he took my life, it would be nothing more than he had done; for he had proved himself a murderer long ago. He then made a rush at me, gathering an axe on his way and drawing it upon me I retreated, taking with me the axe that I held in my hand. At this moment, Brother Davis with some others rushed from the house and ordered him to lay down the axe, which he threw down, and retreated to the fence and drew his Pistol and cocked it, and swore that he was enough for half a dozen of us. He then went away and a short time afterward he came by where I was sitting and talking to Brother Dalrymple, and again threatened my life with many bitter oaths. This same Gabriel Cotton had been stirring up rebellion and strife, through an apostate spirit, among the Saints in Genoa for the last six or eight months, and my opposition to his course caused his enmity to me . . . .
Sunday, Dec 26th. Had meeting at Brother Dalrymple’s Cotton with some of the apostates attended prayer meeting at Brother Sinclair’s.
Monday, Dec. 27th. Stayed at home. In the evening called some of the brethren together and formed them into a sort of police to thwart the movements of the Cotton Apostates party who have sworn to take my life.
Sunday Feb. 27th. Had meeting at my house. Several of the brethren spoke. Had a good time. The boys who were appointed to go over the river yesterday to secure our timber claims did not succeed to get over because they could not get their canoes and other things ready in time,and having to watch their canoes all night to keep them out of the hands of our enemies, thought that they might as well cross over the river today as to sit on the bank all day and watch their canoes, tools, provisions, blankets, etc., which had been on the bank ready to go over all night. They therefore put over two men all safe and returned for the rest; but in taking their guns, tools, provisions, bedding, etc., it loaded them down too heavy; and the canoes, for they had to be lashed together sunk in the middle of the stream, it being very rapid one with ice running. Six of them, after a long struggle with the ice current made the shore, while Brother S. C. Larsen after a long struggle was carried with the current and drowned. Some of those men, after they reached the shore were so benumbed with cold that they could not walk without help. Brother Larson’s body could not be found. He was a good man and a Saint indeed, and died a martyr for the cause of truth, having lost his life by trying to secure the rights of the Saints when their lives were taken from them by wicked apostates who were seeking to bring the poor saints into Genoa in poverty and distress. After the accident there were eight brethren over the river without food or blankets in fine, with nothing but an axe and a few matches except the clothing on their backs. Six of them were wet and nearly perished, and they could have no assistance until a boat could be made for the canoes were lost; therefore, the boat builders and carpenters went to work, it being near evening, to construct a new boat and they labored nearly all night.
Monday Feb. 28th. Today the carpenters finished the boat and took it to the river and took out provisions, blankets, etc, to make the boys comfortable.
Tuesday, the 1st. Today Brother Lewis Miller and Patrick Carroll made two trips over the river to take over more of the boys, provisions, etc. While returning on the last few trips a few rods from shore, the boat struck a snag and capsized, throwing the two brethren into the river. They lost the boat but caught by a snag, the current being very swift with ice running, and they knowing that no possible assistance could be rendered from either side, they stripped off everything they had on but their shirts and struck out for the nearest shore which they gained in so benumbed a state that they had to be helped on shore. They were on the south side with the other boys and no clothing. The boat floated a few miles down the river and drifted near the shore and was caught by one of the brethren who followed it and brought it back.
Friday, April 25th. Went to the river again with Margarett to assist in picking oakum to caul the boat. The Pawnee Indians, several hundred in number, crossed the river today. It was quite a novelty to see them taking over their buffalo skin boats, and the squaws hanging on behind with nothing but their heads out of water, and that nearly as cold as could be without ice; the men, two or three in number, swimming ahead with lines towing the boats. I was amused to see sometimes 8 or 10 of the boats on the stream at once, and hear 50 or 60 voices, male and female, shouting as they plunged along through the cold water.
Sunday, May 1st (1859) This morning very rainy; wind in the northeast. My health tolerable good, much better than it has been for many months, for which I feel thankful to my Heavenly Father. No meeting today on account of stormy weather. Spring cold and backward; not flowers enough to crown a May Queen within ten miles of Genoa. My prospect of getting home this summer to my family is very poor for want of means, which fills my heart with sorrow.
Sorrow brings me to my God,
And increases faith in prayer
Sorrow is the chastening rod,
Which His children all must bear.
Monday, June 20th. Went to the ferry and commenced crossing Brother Brown’s company of 60 wagons, and at about 4 o’clock the rope came in too near the north side landing. (having rotted off by acids being put upon it by some fiend in human shape–Cotton). The boat was loaded with one wagon and yoke of cattle and about 40 or 50 men, women, and children when the rope parted. The boat went whirling down stream by the swift current for several rods until some of the men on board caught the longest end of the main rope and pulled it in shore on the south side; otherwise no one knows how far the boat might have gone down stream and how many lives might have been lost. After the boat and all was landed safely, we got a man to splice the rope, and we then stretched it across the river again and crossed over three wagons before dark. . . . . .
Sunday, June 26th. Had meeting in the Bowery. Brothers Pilling, Jones, and Slight spoke but very short, after which I made some remarks. I saw in the congregation some of the men that have ever tried to run over the rights of the Saints in Genoa by trying to break up the institutions established to make a resting place for the Saints who might come this far and could go no further on their way to their mountain home, and by jumping their land or timber claims, pouring acids upon the ferry rope thereby endangering the lives of the Saints who are crossing the river on their way to their mountain home, reporting all manner of falsehoods that their evil imaginations can invent to bring them in collision with their neighbors abroad, etc.; whose only object in attending meeting is to make a man an offender for a word and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate that they may carry out their hellish designs against myself and the Saints in Genoa, as above mentioned, like all other false brethren and apostates that have ever infested the Church since it had a being on earth.
Wednesday, June 29th. This morning Brother Hudson came home from Florence. I went to see him, and he told me that all manner of lies and falsehoods were in circulation against me at Florence, put afloat by my enemies in Genoa and the disaffected ones who have left and gone down, and that much injury was being done to me by their lies and falsehoods, forming prejudice against me in the minds of the authorities below. May God have mercy on them to see their sin and folly before they wake up in everlasting burnings!
Friday, July 15th. The Governor of the Territory, in company with General Thayer commanding a detachment of U.S. Dragoons and militia, called on our settlement on their return from an expedition against the Pawnee Indians to chastise them for some depredations which they had committed on the white settlements. It seems that the Government in a treaty with them had extinguished their title to their lands by agreeing to pay them certain yearly sums in cash, goods, etc. The sum of $24,000 they were to receive early last Spring which the government neglected to pay while the Indians were depending upon it to live upon, and the Indians not receiving it brought them into a state of almost starvation. Thus through neglect of government, they were compelled to steal and plunder the whites and keep from starvation, which brought the indignation of the whites upon them while some of the poor Indians were killed and a cry of war raised against them which brought the Governor, General Thayer, with detachments of Dragoons and militia in an expedition against them which will cost with the little stealing plundering that the Indians did, some 24 or 25 thousand dollars. The Pawnees had started on a buffalo hunt when the brave bands of warriors overtook them and in making a treaty of peace with poor savages, they had to give up some of their men as prisoners of war and relinquish the payment then due of $24,000 which the government thought to pay them in the spring which would have prevented all the difficulty; but the poor savages must bear all the blame, have several of their men killed, and lose $24,000 of their honest dues to satisfy the avarice of a few, poor miserable crazy scamps; which shows the rottenness and corruption of the American Government.
Friday, July 29th. Commenced packing my goods and preparing for my journey home across the plains.
Sunday, August 14th. Moved my wagon back down to the forks of the Columbus and Genoa roads and attended meeting with the brethren at Brother Huff’s. Had a good time in speaking and finally concluded to take up a claim and build a house for a store. . . . . .
Monday, October 3lst. No alleviation of pain and misery in my back. Confined to my bed. No prospect of having a house very soon to get into. Have had to sleep in my wagon box ever since I have been here. Sometimes feel almost discouraged at my hard lot of sickness and detention from home, yet feel to say:
What’s best for me my Father knows
And will my footsteps guide;
And keep me safe from all my foes
And my needs provide.
His will be done, my spirit cries
For He is Holy, Just, and Wise.
Monday, April 2nd. (1860) Health seems to be mending a little today; went and looked up my white oxen which had been taken up and worked without my knowledge and abused in a shameful manner by a man whose name is Smith. I found the cattle on the range very poor and worn down. Towards evening a few drunken rowdies from a house raising came to the store and wanted liquor. I told them that they could not have it for they had got enough. One of them drew a large tin blade in a knife and came at me and swore he would have it or he would kill me; he finally broke open the store door, went in smashed up a lot of tumblers, bottles and window glass;then came out like a raving maniac and rushed towards me with his knife drawn threatening my life with a bitter oath. I caught hold of a shovel, which lay near at hand and drew it up and told him if he came any nearer I should knock him down with it. He finally turned on some of the other bystanders and I went into the store and held the door and after swearing and waving broken window glass and threatening others for half an hour or more he went away. I have sold liquor to various kinds of travelers and others through the fall and winter to pay my expenses until I could get home but have been careful not to let men have it who were intoxicated more than I could help but I find that he that will work and deal in the cursed stuff at all is in danger of his life and I should never have meddled with it had my health been so as to get a living any other way until my way opened to get home. . . . . .
Friday, April 6th It is just three years today since I left home. When I left I expected to return in half of that time that I have already been absent but here I am yet notwithstanding intentions and anxiety to return. . . . . .
Thursday, April 26th Cold north wind, my health very poor, having taken cold. Stopped at home all day reading, writing, and waiting on strangers. Today I read a letter from my brother Benjamin in Utah to my brother Joseph at this place in which he among other things while speaking of me, says: “What we had heard has caused us more sorrow and painful feelings than could the prospect of death.” He also says: “He has given great grounds for suspicion even with the president.” But neither he nor the president have told me of what I was suspected. I have written to both and received no answer from either. While Benjamin in his letters to Joseph has several times referred to rumors about me, but has not written to me upon the subject which has caused me many painful feelings. I suppose however that the same slanderous lies have been carried to Utah by my enemies that have been promulgated about (by the Cotton faction at Genoa and their gentile sympathizers abroad) throughout this region of country and at Florence. I must say however, that the Gentiles have never been half as bad or injured me half as much by their slanderous lies about meas have some who profess to be saints. God have mercy on them, and forgive them as I have done although they have pierced my very heart core, by their envy and slanderous lies. I would not do to them the least injury in the world although I might have all the opportunity I could ask for but would do to them all the good that I possibly can, for I do not want revenge on any human being. . . . . .
Saturday, June 2nd. A company of missionaries and men after good passed here today from Salt Lake among the missionaries was Amasa Lyman and Charles G. Rich, two of the twelve on missions to England. My son, Nephi, and nephew Don O. Babbitt also came down with the company. . . . . .
Sunday, August 5th. Started today a little after breakfast on my journey across the plains with two wagons belonging to myself; one containing goods belonging to the hand carts and other companies gone before which I was freighting under contract with Bro. G. Q. Cannon, the other with goods provisions belonging to myself, Nephi, Margaret, and an old maid who was with us by the name of Mary Allen. I had in charge also another wagon sent out by my brother Joseph E. Johnson, to take out the children of the late Sister Babbitt and an old maiden lady by the name of Hannah Allen, sister to the above mentioned Mary, with a young lady and child sent out by my brother by the name of Eliza Sanders; we camped for the night a little above Fort Karney on the Platt River. . . . . .
Thursday, August 16th. This morning Brother Sharp found that his horses were missing. Nephi immediately started back to look for them. He tracked them for several miles until they came near a camp of returning apostates from Utah, when no further traces of them could be found. They, therefore, supposed that they had been stolen by them and returned to the camp. We started about 9 o’clock and travelled a few miles and camped for the night on a small stream.
Friday, Oct. 5. Arrived in the city (S.L.C.) and camped on the public square.
Thursday, Oct. Il. Went up today with Sister Margaret Threkold to President Young’s office and had her sealed to me by the President. She was born at Carlisle, England, 18–, July 21.
Sunday, Oct. 28th. Started early and met a part of my family about noon consisting of my two wives Susan and Janet and three of my sons, Seth, James and Almon, who came out to meet me with Brother Thomas Smith. I then left my team, my sons Nephi and Seth and went on with my family and Brother Smith who had a horse team We came to Beaver and stopped with Sister Pratt for the night. . . . . .
Saturday, January 12, 1861. Very cloudy and cold; some clouds indoors as well as out, on account of some little jealousy among the women (which is apt to be the case when a new one comes into the family)but think they will soon disappear. How much more pleasant and beautiful is love and friendship than that old hag jealousy which the wise man says is more cruel than the grave.
Pure friendship is the wine of life
That makes its pleasures double
While envy, jealousy and strife
Is all its source of trouble.
Remember those sweet words divine
Of Christ, our Elder Brother:
“Except ye are one ye are not mine,
Then love ye one another.”
In March I went down to Virgin City with my wife Susan and planted out my city lot to fruit trees and grape vines and returned home on the last day of the month and in April I went to Salt Lake City with my wife Janet and had her sealed to me in the Endowment Room across the alter by President Brigham Young and returned home on the 18th day of May. In June I went down to Virgin City accompanied by my wife Margaret and in company with my son Nephi and cleared fence, made the water ditches for, and planted four acres of land to sugar cane near the mouth of North Creek and returned home in the forepart of July. . . . . .
. . . in September I went with my wives Susan and Margaret to Salt Lake City and attended October conference and had Margaret sealed to me in the Endowment House across the alter, Brother Wilford Woodruff officiated and after visiting my friends and selling my house and lot in Virgin City to my brother William D. Johnson of Salt Lake City, I returned home in the latter part of November. (1863) . . . . .
In the winter of 1865 my son Nephi (being president of Virgin City) came up and organized a branch of the church of about 90 members called the Mountain Dell Branch I was appointed president with Rufus Allen and William Isom my counselors.
Some time about the first of June Brother Snow came up from St. George to visit the settlement on the river and I invited him to come and see my place at the mill for I had built a good mill and had water sufficient to saw all the logs that ever would be brought to it and to water all the land what was worth farming on the creek. I also had planted about thirteen acres to various kinds of fruit trees and grape vines and had the best apple orchard in all the southern country and it had been great labor in fencing and ditching and making a good farm and thought he would be certainly appreciative of my labors and acknowledge my mission honorably filled, but instead of that, he censured me very highly and said things that I don’t feel to mention and from what cause he has never told me neither have I found out to this day. And when I saw that he did not sustain me in the mission he gave me, when I knew that I had filled it according to the best of my ability and knowledge, I was sick at heart and discouraged and resolved to leave the place as soon as I could get it off from my hands; for this cause I sold out to Joseph and William Black and made writings on the 9th day of July 1866. I then moved my family down to Virgin City into a cabin that I had built on my son Nephi’s city lot. . . . . .
July 6th, 1868. This day myself and three wives attended the celebration of the Thirtieth (30) anniversary of the departure of the remnant of the Saints that were left at Kirtland in the Kirtland Camp which arrived on the sixth (6) day of July, 1838. The celebration took place in the Hall at St. George. The hall was densely crowded with saints from the different settlements; many of the old members of the camp were present, some of which made short but appropriate speeches upon the subject of the persecution of the saints, their expulsion from Ohio, their journeys through the States. . . .
June 22, 1870, myself with my three wives Susan, Janet, and Margaret and my son James with two teams all started for Salt Lake City and arrived at the city on the second day of July. On the sixth day Susan and myself with my sister Esther M. Lebaron went to the Endowment House and were baptized and sealed for the following persons. (Names listed) Esther was also baptized for Julia and Survina Taft, both my cousins, and were both sealed to me. My wife Susan was baptized and sealed for Charlotte Fuller, Darney Lyman, Harriet Webster and Lucy Holms, all sealed to me.
July 7th. Myself and three wives all went to the Endowment House and received our second anointing under the hand of President Daniel H. Wells.
Sunday, ______ 2nd, 1871. Myself being at St George at the house of my brother Joseph and most of the family being present, they requested me to give them a patriarchal blessing, or father’s blessing, which I did. . . being 14 in number, the above blessings are recorded in Book No. 1, of the records of Patriarchal blessings under the hand of Joel H. Johnson.
On November 17, 1871, I went out to St George to see President Young and George A. Smith, and gave them a description of our place on the Sevier and an account of what we were doing there. They were much pleased with what I told them and instructed me to take out a surveyor and survey the land and a town plot and get in all the settlers I could.
July 20th, 1872. I started again to go to Hillsdale and arrived there on the 23rd and on the 25th I went down to Panguitch to attend the celebration of the 25th of July. Got there late, services on the day mostly though heard a part of the ovation, and most of the toasts; following were mine:
The God of the Gentiles:
Gold, office, wine and courtesans
The God of the Saints:
Eloheim, truth, virtue and celestial wives.
Tuesday, Feb. 7th, 1873. Ground a few bushels of corn today and on an iron mill which my brother brought up from Council Bluffs. The mill did very well. I feel quite sprite on some account or another. (I suppose it is because I have faithfully contended against his interest in favor of the truth), for he has not only stirred up some of the Gentiles, but false brethren to report many willful and malicious lies about me to my great injury without the least provocation except to his satanic majesty, and those also think their Father’s rights invaded, where truth and righteousness is supported. The old fellow has always been mine enemy from time immemorial; therefore, I am glad I am in Utah; I have made eleven new places of settlements; some of them I have made voluntarily; others I have been called to make by the authorities of the Church, all of which I conscientiously did for the advancing of the work of the Lord including the benefit of my family. There being no schools for a year or two in those new places my children were deprived of advancing their education but always went to school when there was any chance. Some of them would not take any interest in gaining an education but had rather almost do anything else than to go to school which gave me much sorrow for when I would try to encourage them they would slight my council; if any of them ever complain of their father’s neglect in schooling them it will be those who never improved the opportunity that they had.
October 26th, 1873. The signs of the times and the whisperings of the spirit is to me that the keys of the resurrection will soon be given through Joseph and the spirit of my prayer has been almost surely for the last few months in language similar to the following lines:
When my weakness Lord I see
My poor heart is sickened
Help me then to walk with thee
That I may be quickened.
Haste O! Haste the glorious time
Long by saints expected
When the time in every clime
Shall be resurrected.
May I see the looked for day
And be with the number
Who have walked the narrow way
Free from death’s cold slumber.
January 21, 1873. Went down to St. George to see the president and attend a two day meeting to be held on the following Saturday and Sunday in the St. George Tabernacle. The house was crowded with brothers and sisters from the settlements as well as St. George. The text of the speakers mostly dwelt upon was “except ye are one you are not mine.” The most of the teachings was for the same to be one and cease working for, and feeding the gentiles, but let them alone and go to their might to build up Zion, to cease hauling everything they had to spare to search to build up the gentiles, but bring it to St. George and build up the Temple and Kingdom of God; . . .I was timely thankful to see the beginning made to induce the saints to obey the first commandment given to the Church that was to “Come out of Babylon, Oh my people, be ye separate; touch not, taste not, hear not of her unclean things.” This commandment the church as a people have never kept;for that cause we have been robbed and driven from place to place and still the spirit of mocking is after us; we have constantly sought after the unclean things of the Gentiles of Babylon, such as their strong drink, tobacco, coffee, tea, bacon and all the round of their candy and bottled fruits and provisions with their clothing, fashions, manners, customs and many of their practices while the Lord hath said that those things were unclean and not good for man and that the beauty of our appearance should be the workmanship of our own fingers, while we continue to follow after Babylon the spirit of Babylon will follow us and our children and we cannot help ourselves. I have refused to use their unclean things and to follow their fashions for the last forty years and have always preached against it and feel thankful that the first step is taken to bring the saints out of Babylon.
To My Wives
Oh, Susie, dear, with love and cheer
May all with thee be well
My love for thee, while true to me
This tongue can never tell
And Jennie love, can I reprove
And say thou art untrue
With love like mine, and virtue thine
I always shall say no.
And Maggie, too, my love for you
I cannot now express
While thou to me, shall faithful be
I shall thee love and bless.
Should each prove true their work to do
Like true and faithful wives
Then all shall share, my love and care
With crowns of endless lives. . . . . .
March 24th, 1875. We all took dinner together and had a good time and in the afternoon we all came together with those that were here and I organized them into the order of the Sons of Joel. I was chosen President, Sixtus and Nephi my counselors, and Seth as secretary. The object of this organization is to enter into an organized system of keeping a record of and educating the sons and daughters of Joel and to keep them from running astray after habits,fashions, customs, and the unclean things of the Gentiles and to observe strictly the laws, rules and customs of the Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. . . . . .
November 3rd, 1876. Feel very much the effects of old age but still feel strong hopes that I shall live to see the quickening time when Satan’s reign shall end, and hear my
Father say to me “enough
Take your station higher
Break the bonds of Satan off
And to me come nigher.” . . . . .
January 11, 1879. Today I started on the mission given me by President John Taylor to gather up my family and colonize them at some place in Arizona and organize them in the United Order. I went to Virgin City and stopped for the night . . .
February 11, 1879. On the 30th of January, six days after my return from Johnson, my little son Jeremiah was taken sick with diphtheria and died on the eighth of February, aged four years and ten months, lacking one day; while sick he often called for his father to bless him which I did. I often went by myself in secret prayer in his behalf but could get no testimony that he would recover and when I saw that he was to be taken from me, I asked the Lord what I should do with the promise he made me before he was born, when He told me to go and bless him and give him the name of Jeremiah and ordain him a prophet and thus came the answer: “Go and ordain him a High Priest and anoint him a king and a priest to God; he is still to give word to the nations and assist to gather his elect from the four winds of the earth.” So I saw the Lord was taking all the purest saints back again behind the veil to place them in a school directed by the prophet to prepare them for the great work still before them. They come and take tabernacles and are taken away again because they cannot be trained unto the Lord, where hypocrisy, profanity and other wickedness is practiced among those who profess to be saints.
May 21, 1879. My testimony for the last forty-eight years has been and still is:
“That I know that God lives, for I have felt his hand and heard his voice and I know also that the dispensation or fullness of the Gospel brought forth through Joseph Smith is God’s handy work! For His voice has declared it unto me. This is my living or dying testimony to every human being upon the face of the whole earth even so, Amen.”–Joel H. Johnson, High Priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, only and one living Church of God on the earth. . . . . .
July 28, 1879. Still have to haul water from Toquerville, seven miles over a terrible road to answer all the requirements of household economy which brings upon me a very heavy task. The Lord’s hand seems to be on us for our wickedness. He is taking many of our little ones by diphtheria and other disease and sending draught upon many parts of the territory. Some of the people who profess to be saints think that it is no matter what they do if they are not cut off from the Church. Therefore they will lie, steal, cheat, rob and do anything by which they can get money and if they can keep in the church, they are all right. And there is so many of them that shade or assist each other, that it is very difficult to catch them. These things cause a great loss of confidence and much disunion among the saints; by this means, we as a people come very far short of constituting Zion, which the Lord says is the pure in heart.
August 23, 1879. Terrible hot and dry; the sky is a wonderful blue. No prospect of rain. In looking over the newspapers, I find the U.S. government is doing their best to stop the Saints from emigrating to Utah. They accuse all foreign Mormon emigrants of being criminals whose object in coming to the United States is to break her laws. The corruptions of the U.S Government will soon come to an end. The sword of justice will soon drop. The government cannot bear to have one saint left in the United States. . . . . .
Sept. 17th, 1879. Very hot and dry with no sign of rain. This draught will be at least one thousand and five hundred dollars damage to me before the year comes around. The Lord knows what is best for his people. I care not silver or gold or the riches and honors of this world, and understand the things of God and his will concerning me. . . . . .
December 5, 1879. I was taken sick on the 27th of October with a dreadful cough and a deathlike weakness pervading my whole system. I have been confined to my bed and house most of the time since, not able to do anything or business whatever. . . . . . . . . .
January 1st, 1880. Another Christian crusade against the saints is on hand. Petitions pouring in to Congress from all sides to enact laws to prescribe the saints in their right of citizenship by disfranchising all who believe in celestial marriage. While congress seems determined to put down plural marriage and all Christendom at the present time seems to be —
Fines and prisons two wives to keep
All right with courtesans to sleep.
I think this notion will beat the anti-deluvians or
Sodomites for seduction, prostitution and whoredom.
April 6, 1880. This day completed the fiftieth year since the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My age at this date is seventy-eight. . . I have no help except two small boys and it is very difficult to hire help. Therefore, I have to labor almost incessantly. The boys of my other families have all gone for themselves long ago. Some of them ought to have stopped and worked with their father which would have been a great blessing to themselves and to their aged father, who could have spent his time in writing upon the scores of different subjects that are continually crowding upon his mind but now have to be neglected. . . . . .
September 5, 1881. Attended the quarterly conference at Kanab. Brothers McCalister and Blake occupied the first day upon very interesting subjects. On the second day, I spoke my first acquaintance with Joseph Smith, the first calling and the organization of the different quorums of the Church, the building and the dedication of the temple at Kirtland, the persecutions that followed. We had a very interesting time. . . . . .
February 1, 1882. Ever since I have embraced the fullness of the Gospel, I have been faithful to fill every mission to which I have been called and have always preached the gospel to all people where I have had an opportunity and never was asked for donations to gather the poor and have strove to live by the words of life that have come from the mouth of God. . . . . .
February 14, 1882. My heart is often pained with sorrow while tears run down my cheek by day and wet my couch by night, from which I cannot refrain. Could I have filled the mission given me by my Heavenly Father and President Taylor to colonize my family and those that wished to join me somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico and organize them into the Holy Order of the Sons of Joel that they may be safe when the overflowing scourge of God shall pass them through the earth, then my heart would have been filled with joy and my spirit buoyant with the hope for their safety and salvation. But my sons live scattered to the four winds which causes my present grief. I also find that the spirit of disobedience implanted by Satan in the breasts of mother Eve has been transmitted to her daughters more or less to the present day. The words of God to Eve, [see Gen 3:16) “Thy husband shall rule over thee” and the words of Paul [see Ephesians 5:22) “Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as unto the Lord” are not very well relished by some of her daughters in this age. I find within my own doors there is a lack of that obedience, union and love that should be manifest among the sons and daughters of Zion which adds greatly to my grief and sorrow. So confident are most of the women of this age, that God made a mistake in giving the rule to Adam but meant to give it to Eve, that they contend not only for the rule of their husbands but to become Judges, governors, presidents and rulers of nations, but God will set all things right in its time. . . . . .
March 10, 1882. I sent 130 copies of my pamphlet containing my testimony of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by the Lord to Joseph Smith, Jr., to the Senate and Legislative Assembly of Congress at Washington. For I find that all the different Christian sects have united together with a great clamor sending scores of petitions to Congress to obtain a special legislation to disfranchise the Saints in Utah and to rob them of their rights as American citizens. But their greatest objective is to drive them from Utah and rob them of all their possessions and property as they have before been robbed in Missouri and Illinois.
March 23, 1882. This day completes the eightieth year of my age and a few of my friends came together at my house to celebrate the day…I consider this one of the happiest days of my life–a day I never expected to see when afflicted with long protracted sickness and haunted other times by scores of wicked mobbers, some with drawn revolvers and butcher knives. But God hath preserved my life from disease and the power of wicked men until I have the glorious opportunity of celebrating my eightieth birthday. I received the gospel and was baptized June 1st, 1831, and have preached the gospel to all people wherever my lot has been cast, . . .
Yes, eighty years have past and gone,
Since I was giv’n on earth a place
Yet ever since life’s early dawn
I’ve sought my savior’s love and grace.
And though through life I’ve made no show
Yet when my days on earth shall end
I wish all men to feel and know
That God has always been my friend.
For I have lived by every word
From Him and sought to love and please
All those on whom He has conferred
The gospel power and priesthood keys.
Johnson, Joel Hills, 1802-1882 Autobiography Source: Selections from Joel H. Johnson, Voice From the Mountains, Being A Testimony of the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as Revealed by the Lord to Joseph Smith, Jr. (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor, 1881), pp. 3-4, 12-16. A VOICE FROM THE MOUNTAINS. MY EARLY LIFE.
I was born on the 23rd of March, 1802, in the town of Grafton, state of Massachusetts, of old Puritan or Mayflower stock.
I was so carefully instructed by a pious mother, that I dared not do anything that would displease the Lord or my parents. As soon as I could read, she gave me a small New Testament which I carried in my pocket. I neglected few opportunities of studying it, and often committed some of it to memory.
My attention was early drawn to the ancient ordinances and blessings of the Church. I believed, as far as my limited comprehension allowed, in baptism for the remission of sins, in laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and in signs following the believer, as mentioned in Mark, xvi. 17, 18. “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.”
I believed that the order established by Jesus and His apostles in the primitive church was the only true one. I sought among the sects for it, but found it not
Until the Prophet Joseph came;
“Repent,” to me he said,
“And be baptized in Jesus’name
With hands laid on your head.”
And when I had his word obeyed,
My joy could not be told;
I spoke in tongues and prophesied,
As did the Saints of old.
No wish had I, nor could refuse
The power that on me fell;
Light filled my soul, my tongue was,
The glorious news to tell.
God then to me this truth revealed:
That he had Joseph sent;
And on his head the Priesthood sealed
To call men to repent.
There appears to have been some special providences over my early life. I will relate one which preserved it:
When about twelve years old, I was walking along the bank of the Ohio River, and saw a company of boys in bathing.
I desired to bathe, but the boys being strangers to me, I preferred to do so alone.
Seeing other boys wading out a considerable distance in shallow water, I did not for a moment doubt but what I could do so in safety.
Before proceeding far, however, I suddenly stepped off a steep bank into water over my head.
Not being able to swim, after struggling awhile, I went to the bottom.
I lay there perfectly helpless, and supposed that my time had come to leave this world.
Suddenly a strange power came over me. Something said, “Turn over on your face, and crawl on the ground.” I made the effort, and, without knowing which way I was going, got out of the water.
The same power impressed me to crawl to a little knoll nearby, and get my stomach on it, with my head down. Succeeding in doing so, I became insensible for a time. When I came to my senses again, much water had run out of my mouth, my blood had begun to circulate, and I was in much distress but I recovered. THE WORD OF WISDOM
I was with Joseph Smith, the Prophet, when the Word of Wisdom was given by revelation from the Lord [D&C 89], February 27, 1833, and, I think, I am the only man now living who was present.
I was then thirty one years of age, and had used tobacco somewhat extravagantly for fifteen years. I always used some strong drink, and tea and coffee.
I knew that God had spoken and condemned the use of these things, and, being determined to live by every word that proceeded from His mouth, I laid them all aside, and have not used them since.
I well remember that, soon after the publication of the Word of Wisdom, the same excuse was made, by some of the people, for drinking tea and coffee that is now made–that hot drinks did not mean tea and coffee.
On a Sabbath day, in the July following the giving of the revelation, when both Joseph and Hyrum Smith were in the stand, the Prophet said to the Saints:
“I understand that some of the people are excusing themselves in using tea and coffee, because the Lord only said `hot drinks’ in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom.
“The Lord was showing us what was good for man to eat and drink. Now, what do we drink when we take our meals?
“Tea and coffee. Is it not?
“Yes; tea and coffee.
“Then, they are what the Lord meant when He said `hot drinks.'”
Brother Hyrum Smith spoke to the same effect.
It is said all wholesome herbs are ordained for the use of man. Physicians tell us that tea and coffee are not wholesome. And the Lord says they are not for the body or the belly.
When children see that their parents slight the Word of Wisdom, they are apt to follow their example.
I have recorded this testimony that all who read it may be without excuse. How pleasant it would be at last, if we could say to our Heavenly Father, “I have obeyed all your counsels,” and hear these kind words in return: “Well done! thou hast been faithful over a few things, be thou ruler over many.” CHARACTER OF JOSEPH SMITH, JR.
I became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr., at the October conference held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, October 6, 1831.
I was with him, more or less, in public, in private, in council and in all the associations of life.
I had many business transactions with him.
This intercourse continued about thirteen years, and it gave me, probably, as good an opportunity to understand his character, as was had by any man now living. I was often present when the word of the Lord came from His mouth, and was written down by his scribe.
I knew, and now know, that it was the word of the Lord to all men, whether they receive it or not.
He was a man of sterling worth.
He was naturally affectionate and kind.
His reputation was good among all who were acquainted with him; but among those who knew him not, his name was cast out as evil.
Like many of the ancient Saints, his life was sought from the time he announced to the world that the Lord had spoken to him.
“Thus saith the Lord,” has never been received by any people, except saints, with pleasure.
The Jews, in the days of our Savior, believed that they held the oracles of the living God, and were the only people that He acknowledged. They made long prayers in the temple, in their houses and at the corners of the streets. They paid tithes of all they had, even to mint and rue, and kept holy the Sabbath day; yet they rejected their Savior and King, and cried, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!”
When, to bring in the dispensation of the fullness of times for the gathering of Israel, God sent His Prophet, Joseph Smith, to preach to this nation repentance, the cry was quickly raised in the land, “Away with him, kill him! kill him!”
His enemies had him before the courts some forty times. Some of these trials I attended. His enemies sought far and near to find false witnesses against him, as did the enemies of our Savior, but they could not find the least evil in him.
When he and his brother Hyrum were on the way to Carthage, as it proved for the final sacrifice, he said to those with him, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL YET BE SAID OF ME–HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD.”
They had lived above the law and a mob was brought into requisition to take their lives.
“Crown him then!” the Saints are crying.
He a glorious work has done;
And the heavenly hosts replying
(With the Savior he is one):
“Crown him gladly;
Crown him, Father, through Thy Son.”
Lo! the day of coronation!
What celestial joy it brings!
Now he takes a higher station,
While the heavenly world thus sings,
“Crowned by Jesus!
Lord of lords and King of kings.”
During the persecutions of the Saints, the Lord, through His Prophet Joseph, commanded them to seek redress for their wrongs, first “At the feet of the judge, and if he heed them not, let them importune at the feet of the governor, and if he heed them not, let them importune at the feet of the president, and if he heed them not, then will the Lord arise and come out of His hiding place and in His fury vex the nation.”
These pleadings were attended to, but they brought no redress for the Saints.
In a letter to John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, dated January 2nd, 1844, the Prophet Joseph makes these forcible predictions. Let them “Raise the hue and cry of imposter, false Prophet, G—D—old Joe Smith; yet, remember, if the Latter-day Saints are not restored to all their rights, and paid for all their losses, according to the known rules of justice and judgment, and reciprocation and common honesty among men, that God will come out of his hiding place and vex this nation with a sore vexation–yea, the consuming wrath of an offended God shall smoke through the nation, with as much distress and woe, as independence has blazed through with pleasure and delight.”
I could refer to several predictions from the mouth of the Prophet on the same subject, which were literally fulfilled in the war of the great rebellion, but these are a testimony to the nation that Joseph Smith, Jun., was a Prophet of God.
If the Saints are deprived of their rights, as American citizens by special legislation of Congress as recommended by Presidents Hayes and Garfield, soon the wrath of God will fall upon this nation with four-fold greater vengeance, than in the war of the great rebellion.
It will then not only be the North against the South, but party against party, neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, father against sons and sons against fathers, and blood shall flow, until the land is desolate and but few men left.
These words are true and faithful, because dictated by the Holy Ghost. They will stand unshaken at the day of accounts, whether received by the great men of the nation and the multitude or not.
LINES DEDICATED TO THE PROPHET, JOSEPH SMITH, JR.
Thou servant of the living God,
Like thee I’ve sought among the sects,
To find a few that have not trod
The path His holy law rejects.
With thee, His Seer, I’ve found at last,
The keeper of my Father’s house.
My lot, and all, with thee I cast,
To solemnize my youthful vows.
For thou art chosen of the Lord,
To gather up the pure and wise;
With Priesthood power as thy reward,
His Church again to organize.
Alone no longer can I roam;
My heart is with the pure and brave;
With thee and thine I’ll find my home,
Myself and all my kin to save.
Thy holy cause I will defend,
While all thy sorrows, joys, and care,
Shall be my own, till life shall end,
With Thee eternal life to share.