Father sold his farm to prepare to gather with the Saints. We moved twice in two years and in March, 1835, we moved to Kirtland, Ohio. This was the longest journey that I had ever traveled–it was 330 miles. In ten days we arrived safe, to the Stake of Zion, saw the Prophet Joseph, the commencement of a city, and foundation of a temple. Father got some land and built a house about one mile from the temple, so that we could be at the meetings and hear the instruction that was given by the Prophet and apostles. I was baptized when eight years old on Sunday, between meetings, by Elder A. W. Babbitt, in the presence of crowds of witnesses. We worked at farming, shingle making and helped build up the city and finish the temple.
All seemed to go smoothly, without much trouble till after most of the authorities of the church got their endowments, when the devil set his forces to work to see what they could do. Mobs gathered on all sides. The first elders of the church had to get away the best way they could to save their lives. They sent for their families and went to the church in Missouri. In the winter–November, December, and January of 1837–father went on a mission to Canada. I was a little over ten years old. Instead of calling on the bishop to get firewood for us, I, with the help of Charles, my younger brother who was nearly eight years old, got firewood and kept a good fire all that cold winter; and when father came home we had nearly three cords of wood piled by the house, which we had cut and hauled on a hand sled that we made. The church in Kirtland was now broken up and the poorest of the poor were left, because they could not get away. Only about ten teams were all that was in the possession of the whole of them between five and six hundred persons, but they all [Kirtland Camp] covenanted that they would go together or stay together.
This was in the spring of 1838. The presidents of the Seventy took the lead of business. They advised every man that could work to go into the country and work a few months, for horses, cattle, wagons, harnesses, money, store pay, etc., which they did. They worked and prayed and the Lord worked with them. Signs and wonders were seen and heard which caused the Saints to rejoice. One pleasant day in March, while I was at work in the woods, about one mile from the Temple, with father, Elias Pulsipher and Jesse Baker, there was a steamboat past over Kirtland in the air! It was a clear, sunshine day. When we first heard the distant noise, we all stopped work. We listened and wondered what it could be. As it drew nearer, we heard the puffing of a steamboat, intermingled with the sound of many wagons rattling over a rough stony road. We all listened with wonder but could not see what it was. It seemed to pass right over our heads; we all heard the sound of a steamboat as plain as we ever did in our lives. It passed right along and soon went out of our hearing. When it got down to the city it was seen by a number of persons. It was a large fine and beautiful boat, painted in the finest style. It was filled with people. All seemed full of joy. Old Elder Beamon, who had died a few months before was seen standing in the bow of the boat swinging his hat and singing a well known hymn. The boat went steady along over the city, passed right over the Temple and went out of sight to the west! This wonderful sight encouraged the Saints because they knew the Lord had not forgotten them. The people of Kirtland who saw the steamboat in the air said as it arrived over the Temple a part of it broke off and turned black and went north and was soon out of sight, while the boat, all in perfect shape, went to the west more beautiful and pure than before.
The power of the Lord was manifested in various ways. Angels were seen in meetings who spoke comforting words, that inasmuch as we would be faithful the Lord would help us and we should be delivered from our enemies.
In June the company met, brought in their property which had been earned and behold they had means sufficient to move all the Saints from Kirtland. The company was organized with James Foster, Zerah Pulsipher, Joseph Young, Henry Harriman, Josiah Butterfield, Benjamin Willer and Elias Smith at the head as counsellors, to lead the camp.
On the 6th of July at noon the camp started all in order. The company consisted of 515 souls–249 males, 266 females, 27 tents, 59 wagons, 97 horses, 22 oxen, 69 cows and one bull. Jonathan Dunham was the Engineer and Jonathan H. Hale was the commissary. The business of the engineer was to go thru the rich settlements and towns where he could buy provisions cheap and bring a wagon load to the camp each night. The rations were given out once a day to the several families according to their number; he that gave in money and he that had none to give, all fared alike. There was a regular order in starting; the bugle was sounded for all to rise in the morning at the same time; also to tend prayers and eat breakfast at a certain time and all started together and every wagon kept in its place.
Our enemies had threatened never to let us go out of Kirtland two wagons together, but when we got ready to start, the largest company of Saints that had ever traveled together in this generation started out in good order without an enemy to oppose us. We traveled along in fine order and after a few hundred miles we got out of money and stopped and worked about a month at Dayton, Ohio, and got means to pay our way thru to Missouri. While at Dayton the devil entered our camp and got possession of one of the sisters. She was in awful pain and talked all the time and some of the time in rhyme. The Elders administered to her. The evil spirits left her and entered another person and on being rebuked again would enter another and so continued a good part of the night. But when the devil was commanded in the name of Jesus Christ to leave the camp, he went and was very mad. He went thru the whole camp, made a roaring noise, knocked over chairs, broke table legs and made awful work.
We again pursued our journey, sometimes the weather was good and sometimes bad. Sometimes our tents would blow over in the rain storms in the night when all within–beds, people and all–would get as wet as drowned mice, but we could sleep in wet beds and not get sick by it. The people in the towns, cities and country thru which we passed looked and gazed at us as we passed along. Sometimes they tried to stop us. Once they threw eggs at us just because we were Mormons. At one certain city in Missouri the people tried to stop us. They really had the artillery placed in the street. As we came up they were determined to fire the cannon right at our company, but father talked to them till finally they gave up the notion and let us pass unmolested, except a few of our head men whom they took and cast in prison but the Lord delivered them and they came on and overtook the company the next night.
We traveled in fine order, for we would have order. If people would not obey the rules and keep good order they were labored with and if they would not repent and reform they were turned out of the company.
When we got within five miles form Far West, we were met by Joseph, Hyrum and Sidney. A happy meeting it was. They were very glad to see us because they needed help. For the enemies of the Saints had never been at rest since they drove the church from their homes at Independence in 1833. It seemed that the devil was in almost every man in Missouri. They would all declare–from the governor in his chair down to the meanest man there who would stand up and swear with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a knife in the other, that Mormons should not stay there. Joseph directed us to camp at night around the Temple cellar in Far West and then go thirty miles north to strengthen a small settlement at Adam-ondi-Ahmon. We found the handsomest country I ever saw. We bought land and went to work building houses and mills. The mobs raged all over the country, stealing cattle and horses, burning houses and driving people from their own homes, sometimes killing men and abusing women to an extent unknown even among savages.
One man was not safe out alone for if a dozen of the mob could kill one Mormon they thought it would immortalize their names. So we had to work in companies and keep our guns with us. Every man and boy that could carry a gun went into the ranks to defend the women and children. We not only took our guns to our work but slept with them at night so as to be ready to jump at any minute, when the enemy should come. We had spent about five weeks in this way when an express came from Far West stating that a great company of mob had arrived there with the exterminating orders of Governor Boggs. Joseph and Hyrum and the twelve were prisoners and Far West was in the hands of the mob. Joseph’s order to us was to give up without making resistance and all will be right.
The company who called themselves militia soon came, took us prisoners, took all our arms which was our own individual property. Soon another company came and commenced firing at the unarmed prisoners. The balls whistled all around but thank God not one of us was hurt. Our orders were: we must “leave Davis County within ten days, and leave the state before seedtime in the spring” and if one of us were found there after that time the life of a Mormon would be considered no more than that of a wolf. The mob company stayed to see that the orders were executed and while they stayed they lived on our grain, pork, beef. They would shoot down poor widows’ cows right by the door, burn up fences and do all the damage they could. They would even shoot a cow and cut a rope out of the hide before she was dead, to tie a horse with. We thought this a curious land of liberty and equal rights. But there was no time to be lost, for most of the Saints had no teams; they had sold them for land and now must go and leave it. Maybe you can imagine how the few teams that were there were kept going night and day till the saints were moved from Diahmon over into Caldwell County. Now we had to leave the Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahmon and the altar upon which old Father Adam stood and gave his last blessings to his children as they were assembled in the Valley to see a father bowed down with age and hear his voice as he blessed his posterity and told what would take place down to the latest generations. It was with curious feelings that I viewed this ground and the remains of this old altar as I was driving the cows by it for the last time. We had one span of small horses to draw the goods of four families. Women and children had to walk because they could not ride for want of teams. This was a terrible sight–men, women, and children driven from their homes, to travel over the cold prairies covered with snow. After traveling all day in the cold rain and snow till our clothes were wet thru we camped at night on the bleak prairie but still we were not discouraged.
Let our foes do what they will, The Mormons will be cheerful still.
We soon got out of Davis County. We went and stayed the remainder of the winter with my oldest sister and her kind husband–Horace Burgess, four miles southwest of the city of Far West. My grandmother, Elizabeth Pulsipher–who lived with us, died on the 2nd of December, being persecuted to death in a “land of liberty.”
Father went up in the Platt Country some sixty miles off and worked for money to help us out of the state of Missouri. Charles and I stayed at home and got fire wood and took care of the folks the best that we could. I can’t give an account here of the sufferings of our brethren who were in prison and of the many murders that were committed, the houses that were burned, the property which was destroyed and the thousands of people that were robbed of all they possessed. This is written in the church history–some of it at least. The Saints were moving all winter to the State of Illinois. The teams kept going till all the Saints were out of Missouri. Father got means to help his own family to move which consisted of nine persons. In the month of March, 1839, we started towards Illinois in company with Horace Burgess and some of our neighbors. After traveling 200 miles, we crossed the great Mississippi River and got out of Missouri and found ourselves among a people that have some humanity. We stopped to look for a home but all the houses were full.
We heard of a large tract of vacant land in the north part of Adams County and we went to it, in a company, with Horace and his father, William Burgess, senior; we made a road into the woods, called the Bear Creek timber, and stopped three miles east of Lima and twenty miles north of Quincy.
We arrived here about the middle of April. All the team the three families had was one horse, but all used the horse and all worked together and when one killed a deer it was divided among the whole. And in fact we all seemed like one family. In about one month we had three good log houses built, 12 acres of land fenced and most of it planted to corn. We caught fish, killed game, picked greens, etc. We worked and bought some corn of the old farmers who lived at a distance around us. We made roads through the woods. One way it was seven miles to a neighbor and four to another. East and west we had neighbors within three miles. Our brethren came on and settled west of us. We had neighbors within one mile. Two miles was a larger settlement made where Isaac Morley presided. There we had good meetings and much of the spirit of the Lord. We all enjoyed ourselves first rate. This place seemed more like home than any place I ever before saw. There were no mobs to disturb. We could lie down and sleep in peace. The Lord blessed the land for us and blessed us in all our labors. We came here with one animal and in two years we had twelve head of cattle, raised plenty of grain and were well clothed–all earned by our own labor. Farming and shingle making was our principal employment.
The Saints got out of Missouri and scattered about thru Illinois and the adjoining states. The Lord delivered the prophets and elders from the prisons in Missouri, for they were innocent of any crime and the Lord would not let them be killed at that time.
When Joseph Smith got out of prison, he looked for a gathering place for the Saints. He found a place, a site for a city on the east bank of the Mississippi River. He bought the land, laid out a city which he called Nauvoo. Nauvoo was appointed by revelation a gathering place and headquarters for the Saints. The people gathered in very fast, great numbers died on account of their exposure thru the persecution of Missouri.
1840: The Lord gave a commandment that a Temple [Nauvoo] should be built to His name. It seemed almost impossible for so poor a people to build such a temple in their poverty but the Lord never requires more of men than they can perform if they will go to with their might and trust in Him. Father bought a large piece of land on the prairie one mile east of the corporation of Nauvoo and in the winter he and I went and fenced land and built a small house and prepared a place to live.
1841: In February we moved to our new home, where we had plenty of hard work to make improvements on a new farm and support a large family. At the conference on the 6th of April, I witnessed the laying of the corner stones of the temple which was done according to the order of the priesthood. An immense crowd of people was present on that occasion–all filled with joy and rejoicing. The Nauvoo legion was organized with Joseph Smith at head (which was the military force of the Church), and it was a portion of the militia of the State of Illinois. I volunteered when I was 15 years old into the 4th Company of the 5th Regiment, 2nd Cohort of the Nauvoo Legion. I attended every training and tried to learn the ways of war that I might help to defend ourselves and protect the helpless from the fury of our enemies.
1842: The temple progressed with the saints that could work at it steady. The Prophet Joseph worked with his own hands, quarrying the stone for its wells when his enemies were not pursuing him. No man knows what he suffered thru persecution. Nothing of importance transpired with me, only that I had a good father who never failed to keep plenty of work laid out to keep boys busy, or as he said, “to keep boys out of mischief.” I sometimes thought he was rather hard with the children but when I became older, I was thankful that he never let me go as some of our neighbors boys did, who lived without steady work, for they were soon taken to a steady home–the State’s prison.
The Saints gathered in from the states and some from England and built up the city; bought land in the country till most of Hancock County was owned by the Saints and Nauvoo was the largest city in all this upper country. But the time for peace and prosperity for Mormons had not yet come but sorrow and weepings were mixed with our joy.
1844: At 5 o’clock on the 27th of June our beloved Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum the Patriarch were shot and killed at Carthage Jail by a band of about 200 painted ruffians from Missouri and Illinois. Joseph, because of the accusation of his enemies was there waiting for his trial under the pledge of the Governor Tom Ford who pledged the fate of the state for his safety. Hyrum was merely there for company.
They were both innocent of any crime and were killed without the least form of trial. John Taylor who was a visitor there, was also shot with four balls but recovered. The enemies of the Prophet knew that he was innocent. They had tried him nearly 40 times and he had proved himself clear of all their charges and all their accusations were false. They were heard to say “the law will not touch Joe Smith but powder and ball will.” Thus two of the best men that ever lived were killed and the whole nation is accessory to their death, because the murderers have boasted thru the states of their heroic deeds and the first one of them has never been punished for committing that murder and what is still more strange, is that no man has ever been punished in the United States for killing a Mormon. But I believe it has been so in all ages of the world. We have no account of a man being punished for killing a prophet of the Lord.
Some of the great men of our nation thought that if they could kill the Prophet it would stop Mormonism. They knew that unless they could stop the spread of the Gospel it would turn the world upside down and Joseph Smith would be at the top, at the head of the nation, because he had proposed a policy of government which would be for the general good of the whole nation and his views united the people and they were about to elect Joseph Smith the president of the United States. Now these great men who were in office knew if he was elected they would have to work for a living and not get $25,000.00 a year for being president and not doing anything for the good of the people. But they have missed their figure this time. By killing him, they have sealed their own damnation and not hindered the work of the Lord in the least but it goes faster than ever. Joseph Smith did more for the salvation of the human family in the short time that he lived than any other man that ever lived in the world, Jesus Christ excepted. He lived to be 39 years old and endured a continued scene of persecution and oppression from the time that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, until the time of his death. He bore testimony to the work of the Lord thru life and sealed his testimony with his own blood.
I have been with the Prophet Joseph and heard his instruction weekly and sometimes daily. The last time I heard him speak in public he spoke to the Legion. After telling over what he had passed thru and what he had suffered from men because he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he says: from my boyhood up to the present time I have been hunted like a roe upon the mountains. I have never been allowed to live like other men. I have been driven, chased, stoned, whipped, robbed, mobbed, imprisoned, persecuted, accused falsely of everything bad. I have suffered till the Lord knows I have suffered enough.
After the death of the Prophet Joseph, Sidney Rigdon came and sought to place himself at the head of the Church. By his flatteries he deceived many. Just before he called a vote of the public congregation, Brigham Young, the President of the Twelve, arrived from his mission. This was a joyful meeting. The faithful knew not that Joseph had ordained Brother Brigham and the Twelve to lead the Church but they knew that the Twelve were the next quorum in authority. They that served the Lord faithful were not deceived. I went to meeting where the church met in the grove east of the Temple where President Young arose and spoke and behold he spoke with the voice of Joseph. The very moment I heard him speak (August 8th) I thought of Joseph and from that time on his voice sounded like Joseph’s and from that time the Church generally were satisfied that the mantle of Joseph was on Brigham. Notwithstanding all this, Sidney Rigdon, James J. Strang, Lyman Wight, James Emmet and others led away many people from the Church.
The teaching of the Twelve was to build the Temple and finish the work that Joseph had begun. The people were obedient to counsel and exerted themselves to do all they could to accomplish the work.
On February the 9th, 1845, I was ordained to the office of a Seventy at the Seventies Hall in Nauvoo. I was placed in the Second Quorum and attended the meeting regularly and got much good instruction.
Our enemies were not satisfied with what they had done, so they continued their depredations. In the small settlements in the country the mobs collected, drove our brethren from their homes, burned their houses and grain and killed some who could not get out of the way. In the fall, the mob collected in the south part of the county and in about two weeks they burned 200 houses to ashes. The inhabitants had to flee to nauvoo to save their lives. A great amount of grain and property was destroyed, cattle and hogs were stolen and killed almost without number. Old father Durfee was shot and killed by the mob while he was trying to save his property from the flames. Many others died from exposure after being robbed and driven into the wood. Their sufferings were so great that they could not endure it.
The Saints gathered into Nauvoo, labored and toiled to finish the temple. Our enemies at the same time were planning to drive us from our city and from the United States. In the fall the temple was dedicated to the Lord, thus far completed. Prayer pronounced by President B. Young. The building was finished with the exception of a little inside work which was done during the winter.
Seeing that the church could have no peace in the United States just because we were saints, our enemies were allowed to rob, mob, plunder and drive us from the pleasant homes that we have worked so hard to make; not satisfied with that they would kill without cause and without fear. All seemed combined from the head of government down. There was no peace for Mormons and no man punished for murdering them. Seeing this, President Young and the Twelve gave orders for the saints to prepare and in the spring start into the wilderness, to a place where we can hide up among the mountains till the Lord shall execute judgment among the wicked. This was joyful news to all Saints. They started with one accord to prepare to start. The winter was spent in building wagons and buying teams.
Most of the Saints, men and women, had the privilege of receiving their endowments, learning the order of the Priesthood, the fall and redemption of man, in the temple in the city of Joseph. Nauvoo was called by that name after the death of Joseph. I think it was in the month of January that I and my brother Charles received our endowments. The building was filled up in the nicest style. It was built according to the pattern that the Lord gave to Joseph. It was accepted of the Lord and His holy angels have ministered unto many therein and now because of persecution we must leave it and in leaving it we leave a monument of our industry which was reared in our poverty. It was the finest building in all the western country.
At the west and about 100 (?) feet from the ground was the following inscription in large gold letters:
On the 2nd of February, father and Charles, my brother younger than I, started having fitted out a four-horse team, with father and Wm. Burgess, and loaded it with provision and seeds. They crossed the Mississippi River with the first of the pioneer company. They were out with Pres. Young and the Twelve the remainder of that cold stormy winter, working their way westward. When their provisions were gone, they went down to the nearest settlements in Missouri and worked for more. They made a road west thru the wilderness of what afterwards became the state of Iowa. Father left me at home with the instructions to sell the property, get teams and bring the family along. On account of the people all wanting to sell so they could go and as our enemies would not give much for our possessions because they thought we would leave them and they could get them without paying, we were obliged to sell for just what we could get. About $2,000 worth of property I had to sell for $300, because I could do no better. We got teams enough so as to let Horace and William Burgess, Jr.–my brothers-in-law–have a yoke of oxen each and helped Elias Pulsipher my cousin, to some team and took the family of Wm. Burgess, senior, into one of our wagons. All things being made ready, we left our home about the 20th of May and started in pursuit of the camp of Israel, with light hearts full of joy.
After traveling five days with our light teams and heavy loads, to our great joy we met father, Charles and father Burgess coming back to get us. They supposed that we had not started and they feared that our enemies would be upon us. They had given their load to the company and returned to help us. A happy meeting it was!
We traveled till we came to a settlement on the Des Moines River and then stopped and worked about two months and got some more provisions and clothing, traded horses for oxen and on the 10th of August we started again on our journey in company with Wm. Burgess, senior, Wm. Burgess, Jr., Horace Burgess and others of our neighbors. After travelling 21 days, we passed by Garden Gove and Mr. Pisgah, resting places, where poor Saints had stopped to raise crops so they could pursue their journey. We arrived at the headquarters of the Camp of Israel on the west side of the Missouri River. This was the 1st of September. The Saints were scattered from Nauvoo to this place and many had not started because they could get no teams.
Just before our arrival at this place the government officers had been to the camp with orders for 500 men to go across the deserts and mountains to help the United States fight the Mexicans. This was a scheme instituted at the head of government to destroy us while we were fleeing from persecution! They thought the men would not leave their wives and children to perish on the prairie and go across the entire continent to fight the battle of a nation who had sought their destruction all the day long. So thinking that we would refuse to obey such an unreasonable order, thereby they would have a pretence to come upon us and kill us for rebelling against the government. Pres. Young seeing thru the whole plan, soon raised the required number of men who left their families and friends among savages without houses and with but few days rations. Under these circumstances these men bid farewell to the camp of the saints and started, under Gentile officers, traveled on foot, lived on less than half rations, worked their way across trackless deserts and stony mountains without shoes, suffered hunger thirst and fatigue, yet they murmured not. The Lord was with them and gave them strength in time of need.
Had I arrived soon enough I expect I should have been with that company but I was at work at another place and they were gone before I heard of it. This was rather a trying time to have 500 of our best men taken,leaving their helpless families as well as the widows, the sick and lame that were on our hands before. The able bodied men that were in camp were few compared with the invalids and widows that looked to those few men for their support. Seeing that it was impossible to cross the Rocky Mountains with such an unwieldy company this fall, Pres. Young selected a place to stay thru the winter. We selected a site on the flat of the Missouri River twelve miles below Old Council Bluffs. We moved to the spot and after cutting an enormous sight of hay, all hands enjoyed in building houses and digging caves and dens to winter in. Eight hundred log houses were built in a few weeks. My father in his old age, myself and brother Charles helped to build many of them. William, my youngest brother, herded the cattle. (He was 8 years old.)
Just as we had moved to this location which we call Winter Quarters, Daniel H. Wells and Wm. Cutler arrived from Nauvoo–said that a Battle had been fought in Nauvoo. Before the Saints all got started, not being able to sell their property so they could make a fitout, the mobs continued to howl around like hungry wolves for the spoil, raised an army from Illinois and Missouri and other places to the number of 12 or 1500 men. I said MEN, but I think the right name is Devils, in human shape. Well, this host of ruffians came commanded by the notorious anti-Mormons, or in other words–savage christians, who were notorious for their zeal in seeking the destruction of Joseph and the Church that he led and laid down his life for. They supposed it would be an easy job to immortalize their name, by coming at this time when the Legion was gone and only about 100 of the poor crippled Saints left, who were mostly old and unable to run.
As I said before, this mob force knowing there was no organized force in Nauvoo, and knowing also the Mormons had given up their arms to the State by order of Gov. Ford, they thought there would be no danger, so they did actually come to put an end to the Mormons that could be found there.
Here the Lord showed forth his power in the deliverance of his Saints he inspired them with the Spirit of Fight, they were themselves as well as possible. Every man got something that he could knock the life out of them with. For cannon they got down old steamboat shafts and bored holes in, which, by the blessing of the Lord did well.
So when the enemy came they were warmly received–a hard battle ensued but they were beat back and could not get possession of the City although they tried for 3 days and could gain no power, were loosing their men by hundreds. They had sense enough to see that such a curse would not pay so they began to sue for peace, and thus ended the famous battle, being 3 of the Saints killed, who were not strictly obedient to counsel, and from 150 to 200 of the other party were left for Dung on the Land. By the officers of the State interfering the Saints were required to again give up their arms and then to move across the Mississippi River into the Territory of Iowa.
This move caused much suffering and many deaths; some hundreds of families mostly women and children with the sick turned out to the scorching heat of the sun and the storms in that sickly season–but the Lord was merciful to them and when they were about to suffer with hunger, countless numbers of quails were sent into the camp and so tame that the people could catch them with their hands and cook and satisfy hunger.
I can see some good has been done by the mob’s coming and driving the remainder of the Saints from Nauvoo for some thought so much of their fine homes that they could not have them and go with the Church till they were driven and when they had lost all they could–the Lord. (sic.) They scattered out through Iowa, went to work and soon earned means to gather with the Church and soon apostatized, as common in all general moves.