There was a branch of the Church raised up in Kirtland before the Prophet came there, and at the time he arrived a variety of false spirits were manifested, such as caused jumping, shouting, falling down, etc. Joseph said, as soon as he came, “God has sent me here, and the devil must leave here, or I will.” Those delusive spirits were not seen nor heard any more at that time.
On one occasion Joseph was preaching in Kirtland sometime in the fall of 1833. Quite a number of persons were present who did not belong to the Church, and one man, more bitter and skeptical than others, made note with pencil and paper of a prophecy uttered on that occasion, wherein Joseph said that “Forty days shall not pass, and the stars shall fall from heaven.”
Such an event would certainly be very unusual and improbable to the natural man, and the skeptic wrote the words as a sure evidence to prove Joseph to be a false Prophet.
On the thirty-ninth day after the utterance of that prophecy a man and brother in the Church, by the name of Joseph Hancock, who is yet living, in Payson, Utah, and another brother were out hunting game and got lost. They wandered about until night, when they found themselves at the house of this unbeliever, who exultingly produced this note of Joseph Smith’s prophecy, and asked Brother Hancock what he thought of his Prophet now, that thirty-nine days had passed and the prophecy was not fulfilled.
Brother Hancock was unmoved and quietly remarked, “There is one night left of the time, and if Joseph said so, the stars will certainly fall tonight. This prophecy will all be fulfilled.”
The matter weighed upon the mind of Brother Hancock, who watched that night, and it proved to be the historical one, known in all the world as “the night of the falling of the stars.”
He stayed that night at the house of the skeptical unbeliever, as it was too far from home to return by night, and in the midst of the falling of the stars he went to the door of his host and called him out to witness what he had thought impossible and the most improbable thing that could happen, especially as that was the last night in which Joseph Smith could be saved from the condemnation of “a false prophet.”
The whole heavens were lit up with the falling meteors, and the countenance of the new spectator was plainly seen and closely watched by Brother Hancock, who said that he turned pale as death, and spoke not a word.
After that event the unbeliever sought the company of any Latter-day Saint. He even enticed Mormon children to keep him company at his house. Not long afterwards, too, he sent for Joseph and Hyrum to come to his house, which they did, but with no noticeable results, for I believe he never received the gospel.
[In addition to what was published in these columns a short time since, Elder Philo Dibble relates the following concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith:]
I saw Joseph Smith the Prophet when he first came to Kirtland, and was with him in the first conference held in that place, which was in a small schoolhouse. When he arose in our midst he said that before the conference closed there were those present who should see the heavens open and bear record of the coming of the Son of Man, and that the man of sin should be revealed.
While he talked he laid his hand upon the head of Lyman Wight. He then laid his left hand upon the head of Harvey Whitlock. Lyman Wight stepped into the middle of the room and bore record of the coming of the Son of Man. Then Harvey Whitlock stepped into the middle of the room with his arms crossed, bound by the power of Satan, and his mouth twisted unshapely.
Hyrum Smith arose and declared that there was an evil spirit in the room.
Joseph said, “Don’t be too hasty,” and Hyrum sat down.
Shortly Hyrum rose the second time, saying, “I know my duty and will do it,” and stepping to Harvey, commanded the evil spirits to leave him, but the spirits did not obey.
Joseph then approached Harvey and asked him if he believed in God. Then we saw a change in Harvey. He also bore record of the opening of the heavens and of the coming of the Son of Man, precisely as Lyman Wight had done.
Next a man by the name of Harvey Green was thrown upon his back on the floor by an unseen power. Some of the brethren wanted to administer to him by laying on of hands, but Joseph forbade it. Harvey looked to me like a man in a fit. He groaned and frothed at the mouth. Finally he got upon his knees and came out of it.
Next thing I saw a man came flying through the window from outside. He was straight as a man’s arm as he sailed into the room over two rows of seats filled with men, and fell on the floor between the seats and was pulled out by the brethren. He trembled all over like a leaf in the wind. He was soon apparently calm and natural. His name was Lemon Copley. He weighed over two hundred pounds. This I saw with my own eyes and know it is all true, and bear testimony to it.
I was with Joseph the next morning after he was tarred and feathered by a mob in the town of Hiram. After he had washed and dressed in clean clothes, I heard him say to Sidney Rigdon, who was also tarred and feathered, “Now, Sidney, we are ready to go on that mission,” having reference to a command of God to go to Jackson County, Missouri, and which they had deferred to comply with until they should have accomplished some work which they had planned, but never did accomplish.
The vision which is recorded in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 76] was given at the house of “Father Johnson,” in Hiram, Ohio, and during the time that Joseph and Sidney were in the spirit and saw the heavens open, there were other men in the room, perhaps twelve, among whom I was one during a part of the time– probably two-thirds of the time,–I saw the glory and felt the power, but did not see the vision.
The events and conversation, while they were seeing what is written (and many things were seen and related that are not written,) I will relate as minutely as is necessary.
Joseph would, at intervals, say: “What do I see?” as one might say while looking out the window and beholding what all in the room could not see. Then he would relate what he had seen or what he was looking at. Then Sidney replied, “I see the same.” Presently Sidney would say “what do I see?” and would repeat what he had seen or was seeing, and Joseph would reply, “I see the same.”
This manner of conversation was repeated at short intervals to the end of the vision, and during the whole time not a word was spoken by any other person. Not a sound nor motion made by anyone but Joseph and Sidney, and it seemed to me that they never moved a joint or limb during the time I was there, which I think was over an hour, and to the end of the vision.
Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly, “Sidney is not used to it as I am.”
[From Elder Philo Dibble, the following has been received in addition to what has been published in previous numbers:]
I moved to Jackson County, Missouri, from Kirtland, Ohio, in 1832, and was driven from Jackson to Clay County in 1833. Afterwards I, with others who had been driven from their homes, settled in Caldwell County.
I was privileged one day to take a stroll with the Prophet on the prairie. Difficulties and troubles were gathering thick around us as a people, and as was natural became the subject of conversation.
As we walked along I suggested to Joseph to send for General Atchison, who was then at Liberty, Clay County, forty miles distant. “He is General of the third division of the state of Missouri; not only a general, but a lawyer; and not only a lawyer, but a friend to law,” I remarked.
Joseph made no reply. We soon turned about and were traveling towards home in the town of Far West.
Within half an hour after we got home, a man on the best horse in town was speeding his way towards Liberty, and before the close of the next day General Atchison was in Far West with one hundred men.
About this time a lawsuit was pending, in which Joseph was to be tried for some alleged infraction of law or mob politics, it’s hard to tell which. It was agreed in some way and by some parties that this trial should take place in a grove of timber about half way between Far West and Gallatin, a little town about twenty miles distant, where there was no house. That such a place should be selected for a trial before some civil tribunal leaves room for suspicion and doubt as to the “civil” part of the performance about to take place.
General Atchison was employed by Joseph as his lawyer, and in laying his plans for the expected trial, he said to Joseph, “I want no man to go with us–you and I must go alone.”
This proposition rather staggered Joseph, which was perceived by Atchison, who promptly added, “My life for yours, let it be as I want it.”
Joseph consented, and they went to the woods designated as a proper place to try a prophet. There they found an armed mob in waiting. On seeing only Atchison and Joseph, the attendants at court began cursing, swearing and threatening.
Atchison said, “Hold on, boys; if the first gun is fired there will not be one of you left.”
The mob took this to signify that they were surrounded by Atchison’s troops. They cooled down, let the trial proceed, in which Joseph was proven innocent of any infraction of law, and came away unmolested.
[President Jesse N. Smith, of Snowflake, Apache County, Arizona, was born in Stockholm, St. Lawrence County, New York, December 2, 1834, and was baptized into the Church between his eighth and ninth year, August 13, 1843. His parents had previously embraced the gospel and had joined the Saints in their first gathering place–Kirtland–in May, 1836. He first saw the Prophet in Kirtland, though he was then but a child. Afterwards he met him at Nauvoo. Of his estimate of the Prophet’s character he says: he was “Incomparably the most Godlike man I ever saw.” And this is his testimony of him:]
I know that by nature he was incapable of lying and deceitfulness, possessing the greatest kindness and nobility of character. I felt when in his presence that he could read me through and through. I know he was all that he claimed to be.
[The little incident given below is one which he recollects of the Prophet Joseph:]
In 1843, for a short time, I attended a school kept by a Miss Mitchell in Hyrum Smith’s brick office. Passing the Prophet’s house one morning, he called me to him and asked what book I read in at my school. I replied, “The Book of Mormon.” He seemed pleased, and taking me into the house he gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon to read in at school, a gift greatly prized by me.
[Sister Louisa Y. Littlefield, was born in the town of Hector, Tompkins County, New York, May 1st, 1822, and was baptized into the Church at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1834. Here she first met the Prophet, of which she says, “I felt an assurance when I first beheld Joseph Smith that he was a Prophet of God.” Her testimony of him is:]
I can and do herein bear testimony that I knew, in 1834, when a mere child, and that now, in 1891, I still know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, called and chosen to stand at the head, under Christ, of the dispensation of the fullness of times.
[Of her recollections of his disposition she gives the following:]
I will speak of a prominent trait of his character which was perhaps more marked in his early career than was the case after public cares and responsibilities multiplied upon him from so many sources. I mean his natural fondness for children. In Kirtland, when wagon loads of grown people and children came in from the country to meeting, Joseph would make his way to as many of the wagons as he well could and cordially shake the hand of each person. Every child and young babe in the company were especially noticed by him and tenderly taken by the hand, with his kind words and blessings. He loved innocence and purity, and he seemed to find it in the greatest perfection with the prattling child.
[Elder James Worthington Phippen, whose home is in Salt Lake City, was born October 12th, 1819, in Springfield, Clark County, Ohio. He was baptized into the Church on the 3rd of February, 1839, in Fredonia, Chautauqua County, New York. Moving to Commerce, (afterwards Nauvoo) Hancock County, Illinois, with his parents he first met Joseph Smith in company with Brigham Young on the banks of the Mississippi River. Concerning the Prophet’s appearance and character he says:]
I was favorably impressed with his noble mien, his stately form and his pleasant, smiling face and cheerful conversation.
[The testimony he gives of him is:]
Before I ever saw Joseph Smith I was satisfied that he was a man inspired of God, and when I beheld him if anything further could have increased my knowledge of him being a Prophet of the Lord, I was confirmed. During my acquaintance with him from 1839 until 1844, his teachings and examples were strong proof to me of his divine calling, without the inspiration of the Lord. I was an attentive listener and observer of the teachings, sayings and example of the Prophet Joseph Smith from the first time I saw him till the month of May, 1844, at which time I left Nauvoo for the state of New York on a mission. And being quite familiar with the history of his life as written, I remember many sayings recorded that I heard him utter. In common with those who were acquainted with his public life and doings in the midst of the Saints in Nauvoo, I had great joy and satisfaction in listening to his teachings.
[Elder Lyman O. Littlefield, who resides at Smithfield, Cache County, Utah, joined the Church in Clay County, Missouri, being baptized by Peter Whitmer, in 1834. He first saw the Prophet Joseph in Zion’s Camp, in Missouri, that same year. Concerning his appearance he says:]
I was a mere boy, between thirteen and fourteen years old, when I first met the Prophet. His appearance as a man won my reverence for him; but his conversation and public teaching–all attended by a power truly Godlike– established me in the faith and knowledge of his prophetic mission which strengthened with the lapse of years until he sealed his testimony with his blood in the jail at Carthage, in 1844.
[This testimony he also bears of the Prophet:]
The Spirit of the Lord had previously testified to me, in the state of Michigan, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and when I beheld him at Salt River, where Zion’s Camp was resting near Brother Burget’s house, the spirit of truth furnished me with an additional evidence of his divine mission. I bear my testimony that he was a Prophet of God.
Brother Littlefield has kindly furnished us with a series of valuable and interesting sketches in regard to the journeying of Zion’s Camp from Kirtland to Missouri, in which he gives some reminiscences of the Prophet, who was the leader in that memorable expedition. These articles will be published in later issues of the Instructor.
[Elder Thomas Cottam, whose home is in St. George, Washington County, Utah, first met the Prophet Joseph Smith, in April 1842, in Nauvoo, having emigrated there from England, his native country, where he received the gospel February 2nd, 1840. Brother Cottam states that the Prophet’s appearance when he first saw him was just what he had previously conceived it to be– that of a noble, fine-looking man.]
My testimony of him is that he was a true Prophet of God, raised up in this last dispensation of the fullness of times, and that his sayings and teachings are true and faithful, and that he sealed his testimony with his blood.
[Of his recollections concerning this great man, he adds:]
There are some things that are, as it were, engraved on my memory. One is particularly so. In Nauvoo I lived near Brother Caspar’s on the creek, about a mile and a half from the temple. Accidentally going into the city on that fatal day, the 27th of June, I met Brothers Joseph and Hyrum with others of the brethren and a posse of men on their leaving Nauvoo for Carthage for the last time. His appearance and demeanor conveyed plainly to my mind that he realized he was going as a lamb to the slaughter. I should judge his feelings to be similar to that of the Savior when he uttered these memorable words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
As I was on guard in and around Nauvoo I did not see the bodies of our honored dead after they were brought home, but I recollect the feeling that came upon me when I just heard of their death. “Can it be possible! can it be possible!” I repeated in my mind; “well, I shall have to go back to England.” But it was only temporary, for I soon realized that there would be a leader for the people. Even some of the disciples of Jesus thought momentarily that they would have to return again to their fishing.
[Elder William E. Jones, of Gunlock, Washington County, Utah, was born in Buckley, North Wales, April 6th, 1817, and joined the Church in his native land, June 27th, 1841. He reached Nauvoo on the 11th of April, 1842, and for the first time saw Joseph Smith on the Sunday after his arrival. The following he gives as his testimony and recollection of the Prophet:]
It would be impossible for me to describe my impressions when I first saw him. I knew that he was a Prophet of God before I saw him, and I felt thankful to God that I was permitted to see and hear him. On the day I was baptized I received a testimony that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet, and that the Church I had entered was of divine origin.
I was not intimately acquainted with the Prophet, but I have many times listened to his inspired words; and I never shall forget the words he spoke on the first Sunday after I came to Nauvoo. The temple was built a few feet above the ground. While preaching he pointed towards it and said, “The Lord has commanded us to build that temple. We want to build it, but we have not the means. There are people in this city who have the means, but they will not let us have them. What shall we do with such people? I say damn them!” and then he sat down. On the following day several persons came forward with their means, and this averted the curse which would doubtless otherwise have followed them.
[Elder William Fawcett, now residing in St. George, Washington County, Utah, and whose native town is Malton, Yorkshire, England, where he was born December 13th, 1814, embraced the gospel on January 1st, 1840. He saw the Prophet Joseph for the first time on the 12th of April, 1843, at the steamboat landing in Nauvoo. Speaking of the Prophet’s appearance and character, he says:]
His appearance was that of a fine, portly gentleman, six feet high, weighing about two hundred pounds. He was pleasant and kind. His character was unimpeachable among the Saints. They loved him and he loved them.
My testimony of Joseph Smith is that he was a Prophet of the living God, and held the keys of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, and of the everlasting gospel to this generation; and that he saw God and His Son Jesus Christ, and talked with them, and also holy angels who ordained him to this priesthood, and talked with and called him to establish God’s Church upon the earth again in our day. I know these things are true by the testimony of the Spirit given unto me.
My heart has been made glad by the sayings of the Prophet many times, in fact whenever I heard him. When Joseph was kidnapped in Dixon, his brother Hyrum called for volunteers, and I volunteered to go to rescue Joseph. I felt willing to lay down my life for him. I loved him, and have ever believed that that offering of mine was acceptable to the Lord. I recollect Joseph was preaching one day outdoors to a large congregation. When he said, “I understand that a man in the meeting has offered a thousand dollars for my head. I wonder if he will get it!” and then he kept on preaching.
[Sister Margarette McIntire Burgess, who now resides in St. George, Washington County, Utah, relates the following incidents concerning the Prophet:]
My father, William P. McIntire, lived in Nauvoo, on the corner of Main and Parley Streets. He was a near neighbor to the Prophet, and a true and loving watch-guard for him in times of trouble.
The Prophet Joseph was often at my father’s house. Some incidents which I recollect of him made deep impressions on my child-mind. One morning when he called at our house, I had a very sore throat. It was much swollen and gave me great pain. He took me up in his lap, and gently anointed my throat with consecrated oil and administered to me, and I was healed. I had no more pain nor soreness.
Another time my older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph’s brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got fast in the mud, and could not get out, and of course, childlike, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing. Was it any wonder that I loved that great, good and noble man of God? As I grew older I felt to honor and love him, for his mission to earth in restoring the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I will relate another incident which occurred. Joseph’s wife, Sister Emma, had lost a young babe. My mother having twin baby girls, the Prophet came to see if she would let him have one of them. Of course it was rather against her feelings, but she finally consented for him to take one of them, providing he would bring it home each night. This he did punctually himself, and also came after it each morning. One evening he did not come with it at the usual time, and Mother went down to the mansion to see what was the matter, and there sat the Prophet with the baby wrapped up in a little silk quilt. He was trotting it on his knee, and singing to it to get it quiet before starting out, as it had been fretting. The child soon became quiet when my mother took it, and the Prophet came up home with her. Next morning when he came after the baby, Mother handed him Sarah, the other baby. They looked so much alike that strangers could not tell them apart; but as Mother passed him the other baby he shook his head and said, “This is not my little Mary.” Then she took Mary from the cradle and gave her to him, and he smilingly carried her home with him. The baby Mary had a very mild disposition, while Sarah was quite cross and fretful, and by this my mother could distinguish them one from the other, though generally people could not tell them apart. But our Prophet soon knew which was the borrowed baby. After his wife became better in health he did not take our baby anymore, but often came in to caress her and play with her. Both children died in their infancy, before the Prophet was martyred.
I cannot describe my feelings as I beheld his lifeless remains when my parents took me to look at him and his noble brother, Hyrum. But they may be more easily imagined than described.
[Elder Daniel Tyler, who now resides at Beaver, Beaver County, Utah, has furnished us with a number of items concerning the Prophet Joseph,–not only incidents in his life, but some of his doctrines and interpretations of scripture, which are valuable to our young readers.
Brother Tyler was born in Semproneous, Cayuga County, New York, November 23, 1816. He joined the Church in Springfield, Erie County, Pennsylvania, January 16, 1833. At this place he first met the Prophet, who came there to his father’s house. His impression of the Prophet’s character was, as he states,] “That he was a meek, humble, sociable and very affable man, as a citizen, and one of the most intelligent of men, and a great Prophet.”]
[This testimony he also bears concerning him:]
My subsequent acquaintance with him more than confirmed my most favorable impressions in every particular. He was a great statesman, philosopher and philanthropist, logician, and last, but not least, the greatest prophet, seer and revelator that ever lived, save Jesus Christ only.
[Following are some of the recollections of the Prophet which Brother Tyler mentions:]
A short time prior to his arrival at my father’s house my mother, Elizabeth Comins Tyler, had a remarkable vision. Lest it might be attributed to the evil one, she related it to no person, except my father, Andrews Tyler, until the Prophet arrived, on his way to Canada, I think. She saw a man sitting upon a white cloud, clothed in white from head to foot. He had on a peculiar cap, different from any she had ever seen, with a white robe, underclothing, and moccasins. It was revealed to her that this person was Michael, the Archangel. She was sitting in the house drying peaches when she saw the heavenly vision, but the walls were no bar between her and the angel, who stood in the open space above her.
The Prophet informed her that she had had a true vision, and it was of the Lord. He had seen the same angel several times. It was Michael, the Archangel, as revealed to her.
During his short stay he preached at my father’s residence, an humble log cabin. He read the 3rd chapter of John, and explained much of it, making it so plain that a child could not help understanding it, if he paid attention. I recollect distinctly the substance of his remarks on the 3rd verse–“Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
The birth here spoken of, the Prophet said, was not the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was promised after baptism, but was a portion of the spirit, which attended the preaching of the gospel by the elders of the Church. The people wondered why they had not previously understood the plain declarations of scripture, as explained by the elders, as they had read them hundreds of times. When they read the Bible it was a new book to them. This was being born again, to see the Kingdom of God. They were not in it, but could see it from the outside, which they could not do until the Spirit of the Lord took the veil from before their eyes. It was a change of heart but not of state; they were converted, but were yet in their sins. Although Cornelius had seen an holy angel, and on the preaching of Peter the Holy Ghost was poured out upon him and his household, they were only born again to see the Kingdom of God. Had they not been baptized afterwards they would not have been saved (see Acts, 10th chapter). Explaining the 5th verse, he said “To be born of water and of the Spirit” meant to be immersed in water for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost thereafter. This was given by the laying on of the hands of one having authority given him of God.
His discourse was, I think, entirely on the first principles of the gospel, and he quoted many passages of scripture, but I do not recollect any other so clearly defined as those I have quoted. I have given his exact language, as near as I can recollect it, after a lapse of over fifty years–nearly sixty years. The joy that filled my juvenile soul no one can realize except those who have had a foretaste of heavenly things. It seemed as though the gates of heaven were opened and a living stream flowed directly to the holy man of God. It also filled the house where we were sitting. To this day, when I think of it, which is quite often, and always when I hear those scriptures referred to, a thrill of joy and of testimony permeates the inmost recesses of my soul.
About the time the doctrine of rebaptism for members in the Church was first revealed in Nauvoo, Joseph, the great seer and revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made some remarks on the subject.
On one occasion he read, among other scriptures, Hebrews, 6th chapter, 1st and 2nd verses, as follow:
“Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God,”
“Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”
The Prophet said the first verse should read: “Therefore, not leaving the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, etc.” This explanation not only made the entire subject of the two verses clear but reconciled them with other scriptures. Notwithstanding Paul is made to say “leaving,” etc., the inference is clear that if the foundation of repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands should be relaid they would have to perform those works over again, as every careful reader of the text must see. This also corroborates a revelation to the Church of Ephesus: “Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works.” All latter-day Saints know that the first works after repentance are baptism and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Here we find a presiding elder of a branch or ward of the Church commanded to perform these works over again, under pain of removal if he failed to obey the divine behest. Many more passages might be quoted to the same effect, but these are sufficient for my purpose. Joseph’s translation not only reconciles the text with itself, but also with other scriptures, as already shown, and as was explained by the Prophet.
Everyone has probably heard or read of the terrible martyrdom at Haun’s Mill. At this late date some may be led to inquire why did not the Prophet foresee this and avert the terrible calamity. The older Saints, or those of longstanding in the Church, understand all of the particulars, but there are our young folks and future generations who, not understanding some unpublished facts, would be liable and almost certain to marvel, as some already do. This is not strange, as the history of the Church shows that the man of God was in Far West, only about twenty miles distant.
Well, my young brethren and sisters, the following are a few of the facts. Brother Haun owned the mill, a grist mill, which took his name. From two to four days prior to the massacre the citizens of the little settlement assembled in a mass meeting, and appointed Brother Haun a committee of one to go to the city for advice to know what to do. The whole country was under arms and excitement. The Apostle David W. Patten, with Brothers Gideon Carter and O’Banion, had already sealed their testimony with their blood. Under these circumstances it was quite natural that small settlements should begin to inquire what was best for them to do.
Brother Haun repaired to the city, and as the Prophet was but a private citizen and minister of the gospel, in the legal sense, he first went to Captain John Killian, of the Caldwell County militia, informed him of his appointment, and inquired what he and his brethren should do.
“Move into the city was the prompt reply.”
Brother H.–“What! and leave the mill?”
Captain K.–“Yes, and leave the mill.”
Brother H.–“What! to the mob?”
Captain K.–“Yes, to the mob.”
Brother Haun then left the Captain and went to “Brother Joseph,” as the Prophet was familiarly called. He asked him the same questions, and received the same answers, word for word.
“But,” responded the selfish mill-owner, “Brother Joseph, we think we are strong enough to defend the mill and keep it in our own hands.”
“Oh, well,” replied he, “if you think you are strong enough to hold the mill you can do as you think best.”
What more could he say? His method had always been when his counsel was asked to give it freely and leave parties to receive or reject it. He could not, nor would not if he could, take away people’s agency.
Brother Haun returned and reported that Brother Joseph’s counsel was for them to stay and protect or hold the mill. The rest the reader knows, or can become acquainted with by reading the published account of the terrible tragedy. The foregoing facts I had from the late Captain Killian in person.
[Following are a few more recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as related by Elder Daniel Tyler:]
At the time William Smith and others rebelled against the Prophet, as recorded in his history, when the walls of the Kirtland Temple were raised but a few feet above the ground. I attended a meeting “on the flats,” where “Joseph” presided. Entering the schoolhouse a little before meeting opened, and gazing upon the man of God, I perceived sadness in his countenance and tears trickling down his cheeks. I naturally supposed the all-absorbing topic of the difficulty must be the cause. I was not mistaken. A few moments later a hymn was sung and he opened the meeting by prayer. Instead, however, of facing the audience, he turned his back and bowed upon his knees, facing the wall. This, I suppose, was done to hide his sorrow and tears.
I had heard men and women pray–especially the former–from the most ignorant, both as to letters and intellect, to the most learned and eloquent, but never until then had I heard a man address his Maker as though He was present listening as a kind father would listen to the sorrows of a dutiful child. Joseph was at that time unlearned, but that prayer, which was to a considerable extent in behalf of those who accused him of having gone astray and fallen into sin, that the Lord would forgive them and open their eyes that they might see aright– that prayer, I say, to my humble mind, partook of the learning and eloquence of heaven. There was no ostentation, no raising of the voice as by enthusiasm, but a plain conversational tone, as a man would address a present friend. It appeared to me as though, in case the veil were taken away, I could see the Lord standing facing His humblest of all servants I had ever seen. Whether this was really the case I cannot say; but one thing I can say, it was the crowning, so to speak, of all the prayers I ever heard. After the prayer another hymn was sung.
When Joseph arose and addressed the congregation, he spoke of his many troubles, and said he often wondered why it was that he should have so much trouble in the house of his friends, and he wept as though his heart would break. Finally he said: “The Lord once told me that if at any time I got into deep trouble and could see no way out of it, if I would prophesy in His name, he would fulfill my words,” and added: “I prophesy in the name of the Lord that those who have thought I was in transgression shall have a testimony this night that I am clear and stand approved before the Lord.” The next Sabbath his brother William and several others made humble confessions before the public. What their testimonies were, I never knew.
In a discourse in Far West, Missouri, Joseph Smith said, “Many of the elders of this Church will yet be martyred.” I do not recollect what preceded or came after, but those words I well remember, and when the massacre took place at Brother Haun’s mill, I felt in hopes that that was the fulfillment of the prediction. Subsequently, when he and his brother Hyrum were martyred in Carthage Jail, I hoped that that would be the entire amount of those who would seal their testimony with their blood; but alas, several have since had their blood shed for the testimony of Jesus; many more are living martyrs, and I again hope that the Lord will turn away the wrath of our enemies and not suffer this sore trial to be repeated. Whether or not, we must submit to His will and acknowledge His hand in all things as well in sore trials as in our happiest moments.
At a conference in Nauvoo, Illinois, in the afternoon, while Sidney Rigdon was preaching one of his most powerful and eloquent sermons, the heavens began to gather blackness. He observed this and said to the Prophet, “Is it going to rain?” He answered, “Yes, and we had better dismiss the meeting, and let the people go home and not get wet.” The conference was held under a large tree. The speaker replied, “I wish you to know I am not through, for I am as full of preach as my skin can hold,” and sat down.
President Smith said to the audience. “You had better hurry home as soon as the meeting is dismissed, or you will get wet. We are going to have a heavy rain.” The services were dismissed without singing, I think, when all started for their homes. Those who lived nearby reached their residences, while those from the suburbs had either to run into neighboring houses or take the pelting wind and rain.
The writer, with several others, who resided in the eastern part of the city, while running at the top of their speed, reached an empty cabin just as the rain began to pour, where we remained fully a half hour, until the clouds moved away. The next day being fair, Elder Rigdon finished his discourse.
On another occasion, when the Nauvoo Legion was on parade, the heavens began to blacken as if to rain. The people began to get uneasy, and some were preparing to leave. Joseph arose in his saddle and shouted, “Attention, Legion! Don’t break the ranks– it is not going to rain. If it rains enough to wet through your shirt sleeves, the Lord never spoke by my mouth!”
It had already begun to sprinkle rain, but it ceased, the clouds passed away and drill continued as long as it was desirable. There are probably many living now who will remember these latter circumstances.
[Elder Daniel D. McArthur, whose home is in St. George, Washington County, Utah, was born in the town of Holland, Erie County, New York, on the 8th day of April, 1820. He met Joseph Smith for the first time in Kirtland, in the month of July, 1836. His estimation of the Prophet, and his testimony concerning him are given here in his own words:]
To me he seemed to possess more power and force of character than any ordinary man. I would look upon him when he was with hundreds of other men, then he would appear greater than ever.
My testimony is that he was a true Prophet of the living God; and the more I heard his sayings and saw his doings the more I was convinced that he had of a truth seen God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, as also the holy angels of God. I cannot call to mind that I ever had a doubt enter my heart, since I first heard the gospel preached, which was in the spring of 1832, as to his being a true Prophet. It always seemed to me that if I ever did know anything on this earth I surely knew that he was a Prophet.
[Some things which he remembers of this great man he also relates as follows:]
When he first spoke to me I was in the woods, about half a mile south of Kirtland. He was on his horse and I was chopping wood. Said he, “Good afternoon.” I returned the compliment. He had a smile on his face, and I felt that he was going to say something else, “You are not the young man who sold his wife for a bull-eye watch the other day, are you?” he asked. I replied, “No, sir,” and he went on laughing. There was a man who had sold his wife for a bull-eye watch a day or two before, and there was quite a talk about it in the neighborhood, so I suppose he thought he would have a little fun with me.
This same winter, 1836, he stated that he was out of firewood and that he had no time to get up any, for the officers of the law were continually on his track. So some of the brethren thought they would turn out and get him some wood. Father and some two other brethren took their teams to haul, and myself and three other boys went to chop the wood into sled lengths. It was the last of December and snow was on the ground.
When noon came we were all called to dinner at Joseph’s house. The table was loaded down with cornmeal mush and milk, and at the bidding of Joseph we all stepped forward to our places around the table, standing on our feet. Joseph asked Joshua Holman, who was one of the wood haulers, to ask a blessing upon the food. He went at his duty with all his soul. As he had been a Methodist exhorter before joining the Church, he commenced to call upon the great and mighty God who sat upon the top of a topless throne, to look down and bless the food and asked many other blessings to rest upon the Prophet, etc. As soon as he closed Brother Joseph said, “Brother Joshua, don’t let me ever hear you ask another such a blessing;” and then before we took our seats he stated his reasons for making this remark, and showed us how inconsistent such ideas were, and told us many things about God and who He was. Then we sat down to our mush and milk, and after eating, the men went out to hitch up their teams, and Joseph took his hat and stepped out into the yard. We boys followed close at his heels, and he turned around and said, “Boys, you think I am a Prophet, and want to hear all I have to say. Now,” said he, “if I should tell you all I know that will come to pass within twelve years, perhaps there would not one of you believe it, and would apostatize from the Church. But I shall let you learn things as they happen, then most likely you will all stand in the Church.”
This saying of course caused me to watch what transpired in the following twelve years. About the first thing that took place after that was the great apostasy in 1837; next we were driven out of Kirtland; and Joseph was obliged to flee for his life; next Joseph and his brethren and the whole Church were driven out of Missouri; next Joseph and Hyrum were murdered; afterwards the entire Church were driven from Nauvoo, which history you are familiar with; all this inside of twelve years, and ten thousand other things besides!
[Elder John M. Chidester, of Washington, Washington County, Utah, joined the Church in its early days. He was born January 22, 1809, in New York, and was baptized in June, 1832. Of what he remembers of the Prophet he says:]
My first recollection of seeing the Prophet Joseph Smith was at a place about sixty or seventy miles from Kirtland, where two companies of Zion’s Camp met. My impression on beholding the Prophet and shaking hands with him was, that I stood face to face with the greatest man on earth. I testify he was a Prophet of God.
Zion’s Camp, in passing through the state of Indiana, had to cross very bad swamps, consequently we had to attach ropes to the wagons to help them through, and the Prophet was the first man at the rope in his bare feet. This was characteristic of him in all times of difficulty.
We continued our journey until we reached the Wakandaw River, having traveled twenty-five miles without resting or eating. We were compelled to ferry this stream; and we found on the opposite side of it a most desirable place to camp, which was a source of satisfaction to the now weary and hungry men. On reaching this place the Prophet announced to the camp that he felt impressed to travel on; and taking the lead, he invited the brethren to follow him.
This caused a split in the camp. Lyman Wight and others at first refused to follow the Prophet, but finally came up. The sequel showed that the Prophet was inspired to move on a distance of some seven miles. It was reported to us afterwards that about eight miles below where we crossed the river a body of men was organized to come upon us that night.
When we reached Salt Creek, Missouri, Allred settlement had prepared a place to hold meeting in. Joseph and Hyrum Smith and others were on the stand at the meeting when some strangers came in and were very anxious to find out which of them were Joseph and Hyrum, as they had pledged themselves to shoot them on sight. But the Prophet and his brother slipped away unobserved, being impressed that there was danger of their lives being taken.
[Elder Henry W. Bigler, whose home is in St. George, Washington County, Utah, was born on the 28th of August, 1815, in Harrison County, Virginia. He joined the Church in July, 1837, and first met the prophet Joseph Smith in 1838, at Far West, Missouri. Speaking of his first impressions of the Prophet, he says:]
I believed he was a man of God, had seen angels and conversed with them, yea, more; he had seen the Father and the Son, and was told there was not a true church on earth; and my testimony today is, Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God, and died a martyr, as also his brother Hyrum.
[Among the instructions he heard from the Prophet’s lips, he well remembers the following:]
Speaking about praying to our Father in Heaven, I once heard Joseph Smith remark, “Be plain and simple and ask for what you want, just like you would go to a neighbor and say, I want to borrow your horse to go to mill.” I heard him say to some elders going on missions, “Make short prayers and short sermons, and let mysteries alone. Preach nothing but repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, for that was all John the Baptist preached.”
[Elder James Leech, who lives in Salt Lake City, relates the following incident in his experience on first meeting with the Prophet Joseph:]
I was born on the 2nd of May, 1815, at Pilling Lane, Lancashire, England. About the year 1827, my parents, with their family, moved to Preston. In the year 1835 I remember waking in the night and hearing my mother, who was a very religious and good woman, relating a dream or vision she had just had to my father. In this dream it had been shown to her that the gospel was going to come to the earth again as it was in the days of our Savior.
In 1837 the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was taught anciently, came to old England, and was first heralded in Preston by President Heber C. Kimball, Brothers Joseph Fielding, Orson Hyde and Willard Richards. My mother’s dream was fulfilled to her satisfaction, and she was one of the first to embrace the gospel. My three sisters joined soon after, but my father did not do so for some time.
In the year 1841 Henry Nightingale, my sister’s husband, began to prepare to gather with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. My sister asked me if I would like to go with them. I said I would, but did not think I was worthy to be baptized, as I was up to the time of my hearing the gospel what people called an infidel. As my parents were willing, I came to America with them. We sailed in the early part of May, 1841.
After arriving in Nauvoo we were five or six weeks looking for employment, but failed to get any. One morning I said to my brother- in-law, “Let us go and see the Prophet. I feel that he will give us something to do.” He considered a short time, then consented to go. On arriving at his house we inquired for the Prophet. We were told he was over the road. So we went over, and found him in a little store selling a lady some goods. This was the first time I had had an opportunity to be near him and get a good look at him. I felt there was a superior spirit in him. He was different to anyone I had ever met before; and I said in my heart, he is truly a Prophet of the most high God.
As I was not a member of the Church I wanted Henry to ask him for work, but he did not do so, so I had to. I said, “Mr. Smith, if you please, have you any employment you could give us both, so we can get some provisions?”
He viewed us with a cheerful countenance, and with such a feeling of kindness said, “Well, boys, what can you do?”
We told him what our employment was before we left our native land.
Said he, “Can you make a ditch?”
I replied we would do the best we could at it.
“That’s right, boys,” and picking up a tape line he said, “Come along with me.”
He took us a few rods from the store, gave me the ring to hold, and stretched all the tape from the reel and marked a line for us to work by.
“Now, boys,” said he, “can you make a ditch three feet wide and two and a half feet deep along this line?”
We said we would do our best, and he left us. We went to work, and when it was finished I went and told him it was done.
He came and looked at it and said, “Boys, if I had done it myself it could not have been done better. Now come with me.”
He led the way back to his store, and told us to pick the best ham or piece of pork for ourselves. Being rather bashful, I said we would rather he would give us some. So he picked two of the largest and best pieces of meat and a sack of flour for each of us, and asked us if that would do. We told him we would be willing to do more work for it, but he said, “If you are satisfied, boys, I am.”
We thanked him kindly, and went on our way home rejoicing in the kindheartedness of the Prophet of our God.
In November of the same year I was baptized into the Church, and from that time until the martyrdom of our Prophet, I often had the privilege of seeing his noble face lit up by the Spirit and power of God, as he taught the Saints the principles of eternal life.
[Elder Edwin Holden an old veteran of the Church, and one who was intimately acquainted with Joseph Smith, makes the following statement in regard to what he recollects of the Prophet, and adds his testimony respecting his mission:]
The first time I saw Joseph Smith was in 1831, in Genesee, New York State, about twenty-five miles from the famous hill, Cumorah. On hearing that two men were there calling themselves “Mormons,” I determined to see them. I rode on horseback fifteen miles from the place I was living to see them–Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. When I got to the place I learned that they were going to hold meeting in a barn. It was so crowded that it was with much difficulty I got inside; and by a great effort climbed up on one of the beams of the roof. There I could see and hear them distinctly.
At the temple in Kirtland I was also present after it had been dedicated. Patriarch Smith, Joseph’s father, was my guide. He took me through the rooms, and also took me up into a room at the top of the house, where I saw the Egyptian mummies, and the papyrus from which Joseph translated the Book of Abraham. I also made there a purchase of a Book of Mormon, one of the first that had been translated and printed.
In 1838 Joseph and some of the young men were playing various outdoor games, among which was a game of ball. By and by they began to get weary. He saw it, and calling them together he said: “Let us build a log cabin.” So off they went, Joseph and the young men, to build a log cabin for a widow woman. Such was Joseph’s way, always assisting in whatever he could.
I knew many years ago–and the knowledge has been increasing every year–that Joseph Smith was God’s Prophet. I also know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the gospel of Christ is of a surety true, and my testimony has not abated, but has grown stronger and clearer every year. I am in my 85th year, and am ready at any time to go home, when the Lord my God sees fit to call me.
[Elder John Lyman Smith, brother to the late President George A. Smith, who now resides at St. George, Washington County, Utah, was born November 17th, 1828, at Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York. He was baptized at Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio, when eight years of age. At this place he first met the Prophet Joseph Smith. The following incidents he relates of the Prophet, with whom he lived for several months when a boy.]
In my early years I used to often eat at the table with Joseph the Prophet. At one time he was called to dinner. I being at play in the room with his son Joseph, he called us to him, and we stood one each side of him. After he had looked over the table he said, “Lord, we thank Thee for this Johnny cake, and ask Thee to send us something better. Amen.” The corn bread was cut and I received a piece from his hand.
Before the bread was all eaten, a man came to the door and asked if the Prophet Joseph was at home. Joseph replied he was, whereupon the visitor said, “I have brought you some flour and a ham.”
Joseph arose and took the gift, and blessed the man in the name of the Lord. Turning to his wife, Emma, he said, “I knew the Lord would answer my prayer.”
From this time to his death I always revered and honored him, and when but a boy of ten or twelve years have in Nauvoo often said to him I was ready to die for him.
When playing in the yard of the old white mansion, in Nauvoo, with Joseph and Frederick, two of his sons, a gentleman drove to the gate and asked if the Prophet Joseph Smith was at home; when he (the Prophet) sprang up from the grass plat, and, shaking the dust from his clothing, replied that he was. The gentleman then drove his one horse up to a tie post and left the lines lying loose, and got out and came into the house. When about half way to the house Joseph said, “Mr., I think you would do well to tie your horse; he might get a scare and run away and break your carriage.”
The gentleman replied, “I have driven that horse for some years and never tie him. I am a doctor and cannot afford to tie up at every place I call.”
Joseph repeated, “You had better tie, all the same. Your horse might get a scare and run away.”
The doctor replied, “No fear.”
Joseph seemed quite uneasy, and got up several times from his chair on the porch or stoop. Suddenly the horse started up the street and struck a wheel against a post and scattered the pieces for a block or more. The doctor sprang to his feet, and looking after the horse, cried out to Joseph, “I’ll be d–d if you ain’t a Prophet!”
[From Elder David Osborn, of Hyrum, Cache County, Utah, we have received the following statements:]
I was born in Virginia, March 31st, 1807. Was baptized in July, 1835, in Greene County, Iowa.
The first time I saw Joseph Smith was at Far West, in 1837. There were but three houses in town at that time. On the south side of the elder Peter Whitmer’s house was a wagon with a box on. Here were seated Joseph, Sidney Rigdon and others. There was quite a congregation including old residents (Gentiles) of Caldwell County. I remember many of his sayings. A few things he said on this occasion I will relate. Said he , “You have heard many reports about me. Some perhaps are true and others not true. I know what I have done and I know what I have not done. . . . You may hug up to yourselves the Bible, but except through faith in it you can get revelation for yourself, the Bible will profit you but little. . . . The Book of Mormon is true, just what it purports to be, and for this testimony I expect to give an account in the day of judgment. . . . If I obtain the glory which I have in view I expect to wade through much tribulation.”
In closing his remarks he said, “The Savior declared the time was coming when secret or hidden things should be revealed on the house tops. Well,” says he, “I have revealed to you a few things, if not on the house top, on the wagon top.”
On another occasion he preached and chastised the rich, or those who had money, for buying land at government price and selling it in small lots to their poor brethren at a high price. He said the Lord was not pleased with their conduct. “You say I am a Prophet. Well, then, I will prophesy, and when you go home write it down and remember it. You think you have been badly treated by your enemies; but if you don’t do better than you are now doing, I prophesy that the state of Missouri will not hold you. Your sufferings have hardly commenced.”
I think about eighteen months after this we all left the state.
[Elder Samuel Miles of Price, Washington County, Utah, who was born April 8th, 1826, in Attica, Genesee County, New York, is one who was acquainted with the Prophet Joseph. He was baptized into the Church in April, 1836, in Portage, Portage County, Ohio. Some things he remembers of the prophet he gives as follows:]
My recollections and acquaintance with the Prophet Joseph are those of a boy from the age of eight when I first saw him in the town of Freedom, Catturagus County, New York, where my parents joined the Church in the early part of 1834, until I was eighteen years old, when he was martyred.
His kind manner and gentle words when I first met him in company with my father, and he took me by the hand; his noble deportment when before the people, his easy, jovial appearance when engaged in the sports which were common in the days of Nauvoo; his firm dislike of that which was degrading; all these combined to give me a very favorable opinion of this noble man.
I recollect the Prophet in 1838, in Far West, Missouri, calling the people together from the city and country round about for conference and general instruction, at the frame schoolhouse. The building would not accommodate the people, and it being in the warm season the congregation assembled on the outside in the open air.
My father’s farm, two miles south of Far West, on the rich prairie and bottoms of a branch of Log Creek, produced phenomenal growths of vegetables, etc. Among other things a mammoth muskmelon was being developed. Father said, “We will give this to the Prophet.” I watched over it with great care, and we had much satisfaction when it was ripe in presenting it to Joseph and receiving his thanks. The fatness of the land of Adam-ondi-Ahman was apparent. The Saints were full of bright hopes and anticipations.
The 4th of July, 1838, came and the Saints gathered round the foundation of the temple in Far West to hear the noble oration delivered by Sidney Rigdon. This was “the beginning of the end” of our stay in Missouri.
When times of trouble came on I have seen the Prophet mustering in the ranks, his rifle on his shoulder, encouraging the Saints by his example as well as by his cheering words.
On his first visit to Commerce, afterwards Nauvoo, traveling from Quincy, he stayed overnight in the little town of Lima, where several families of the Saints had found shelter. I recollect how joyful we all were to greet him and the brethren who accompanied him. They were on horseback. In the morning we all came out to bid them Godspeed on their journey to find a location for the Saints. Joseph’s spirited black horse, when he attempted to mount him, made a start, wheeling partly around, but he with a sudden spring gained the saddle minus his tall black hat, containing, as was customary in those days, his papers, etc. There being at the time a light wind, hat and papers went flying around, but we were not long in getting them together and restoring them to their owner.
I was present when the books, writings, etc., were deposited in the southeast cornerstone of the Nauvoo Temple. Joseph was there overseeing the selection made for deposit. Perhaps two hundred persons were collected around the place. When a Bible was presented for deposit it was thought necessary that it should be complete– containing the Apocrypha. As there seemed to be none within reach, except large, highly-prized family Bibles, Brother Reynolds Cahoon volunteered to go to his home, which was nearby and cut out the Apocrypha from his large family Bible, which was accepted and the Bible thus made complete. After several books, coins, periodicals and publications had been accepted and deposited a poem was presented the Prophet to be laid away with the other things. Joseph handed it to one of the brethren requesting him to read it. When he was through Joseph said, “What does it amount to?”
“See saw, Margery Daw,
Sold her bed and laid in the straw.”
So the poor poem was left out in the cold.
[Elder Joseph Taylor, Sen., of Harrisville, Weber County, Utah, was born June 4th, 1825, in Warren County, Kentucky. He was baptized into the Church in Ray County, Missouri, in the summer of 1835. In Zion’s Camp, on the Salt River, Monroe County, Missouri, in June, 1834, he first met the Prophet Joseph Smith. Of him he thus testifies:]
When I first saw him I believed he was one of God’s noblemen; and as I grew older I became thoroughly convinced that he was a true Prophet of God.
[An incident he relates of the Prophet is the following, given in his own words:]
In February, 1841, my brother John was in jail, in the hands of the Missourians, about two hundred miles from home, and my dear widowed mother was very much concerned about his safety. On one occasion she was crying and fretting about him.
When I saw her in trouble, I asked what was the matter.
She replied that she was afraid the Missourians would kill her dear son John, and she would never see him again.
I was strongly impressed to have her let me go to the Prophet Joseph and ask him if my brother would ever come home. She was very desirous for me to do so.
As the Prophet Joseph only lived about three miles from our house I got on a horse and rode to his home. When I reached there, Sister Emma Smith said that he and his son Joseph had just gone up the river near Nauvoo to shoot ducks. I rode up to them, when the Prophet inquired about my mother’s welfare.
I told him that Mother was very sad and downhearted about the safety of her son John; and she had requested me to come and ask him as a man of God whether my brother would ever return home.
He rested on his gun, and bent his head for a moment as if in prayer or deep reflection. Then, with a beautiful beaming countenance, full of smiles, he looked up and told me to go and tell Mother that her son would return in safety inside of a week. True to the word of the Prophet, he got home in six days after this occurrence. This was a great comfort to Mother for her son had been absent about six months.
[Testimony of Henrietta Cox. I am the daughter of Josiah and Ascenath Jones. I was born March 8th, 1835, in the town of Mansfield, Lolland County, Connecticut.]
In the spring of 1841 my parents were both baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and soon after started for Nauvoo in company with some other Saints. After reaching their destination the company camped for a few days on the bank of the Mississippi until they had opportunity to find homes, a Brother Sherwood kindly giving them the use of one small log house which he owned.
While the Saints camped here the Prophet visited them. A meeting was held in the aforementioned log house. I remember that when the Prophet came into the room he shook hands with all, old and young, who had assembled. I cannot remember much that was said that day in meeting, as I was so very young, but one incident of the day’s proceedings fastened itself so firmly upon my mind that I have never forgotten it.
Brother Joseph was sitting with his head bent low, as if in deep thought, and had not spoken for a few minutes, when one of the elders present began to chide him for being bowed in spirit, and said, “Brother Joseph, why don’t you hold your head up and talk to us like a man?”
Brother Joseph presently answered the elder by calling his attention to a field of ripening grain, saying that many heads of grain in that field bent low with their weight of valuable store, while others there were which, containing no grain to be garnered, stood very straight.
Proof of the correctness of his words was given shortly after, as the elder to whom they were addressed soon after apostatized and went back east.
I know of a surety that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and have had abundant testimony that the work which he established is the work of our Father in Heaven.
[Testimony of Brother James B. Bracken, Sen. I was born January 14th, 1816, in Hamilton County, Ohio, and was baptized March 10th, 1832, in Clinton County, Indiana.]
The first time I saw the Prophet Joseph Smith was in June, 1838, in the town of Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. I went to a meeting and he preached to the people, teaching them the principles of salvation.
Soon after Joseph’s arrival trouble commenced, and the same fall there were several thousands of state troops sent to Far West with exterminating orders from Governor Boggs. I never saw a nobler looking or acting man than Joseph Smith appeared on that occasion.
I saw George M. Hinkle when he betrayed the Prophet, and took him into the camp of the mob. I also saw Joseph Smith a day or two later, when they brought him back, and were taking him to Jackson County, when they said we would never see our Prophet anymore. Many of the brethren tried to get to the wagon to shake hands with the Prophet but the mob would not allow that privilege, so the Prophet, raised the wagon cover and put out his hand toward the brethren and said, “Good-bye,” and passed on in silence.
I saw no more of the Prophet until I got to Illinois, where I heard him talk many times in public and private, and here bear my testimony that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God, and that he brought forth the fullness of the gospel in the last days.
[Bishop Calvin W. Moore, a veteran of the Mormon Battalion, now living in Lawrence, Emery County, Utah, was born on the 21st day of July, 1829. He first met the Prophet in Kirtland, Ohio. Of him he thus testifies:]
When I was a small boy my impression of him was that he was a great man and a Prophet of God, and when I grew up and became older I got a testimony for myself, and I can say that I know he was a prophet of the living God.
[Some incidents he remembers of the Prophet are related in the following:]
One time in [the] Kirtland Temple, at a fast meeting, Charles Hyde, got up to talk, and the devil took hold of him and stopped him. Joseph laid his hands on him and rebuked the evil one, and Brother Hyde went on talking. On another occasion, at a Sunday meeting, Joseph was speaking when a large, tall man came into the temple and walked up and down the aisles whittling and whistling. Joseph requested Bishop Knight, who was a smaller man, to put him out, and he took hold of the disturber and put him out just as the Prophet told him to do.
There is one thing more, which I witnessed, I will relate: It was at the time Porter Rockwell was in jail, in Missouri. His mother went to see him at the jail, and the Missourians told her that if she would raise a certain amount of money and give them they would let her son go. Joseph started out to get the money. He came to a large crowd of young men who were wrestling, that being the popular sport in those days. Among the boys there was a bully from La Harpe, I believe. He had thrown down everyone on the ground who took hold of him. When Joseph came to the crowd he told them what he wanted, passed around the hat, raised what money he could and then went into the ring to take part with the young men and boys in their games. So he was invited to wrestle with this bully. The man was eager to have a tussle with the Prophet, so Joseph stepped forward and took hold of the man. The first pass he made Joseph whirled him around and took him by the collar and seat of his trowsers and walked out to a ditch and threw him in it. Then, taking him by the arm, he helped him up and patted him on the back and said. “You must not mind this. When I am with the boys I make all the fun I can for them.”
[Elder Wiley Payne Allred, of Emery, Emery County, Utah, was born in Bedford County, Tennessee, May 31, 1818. He embraced the gospel in 1832, and first met the Prophet Joseph in 1834, in Missouri. Concerning him he makes the following statements:]
On first sight I thought he was the most noble man I ever saw in my life. I know that he was a prophet, seer and revelator of God.
I heard Joseph Smith say that there was enough revelation given for the present time; but the question was asked, “Why was not more revealed?” He replied that if all was revealed many would seek his blood. He said that he had laid the foundation of the greatest work that ever was inaugurated and had qualified men to carry it on. He added also: “And I roll the responsibility upon the Twelve Apostles. I am going to rest.'”
[Elder Edson Barney, of St. George, Washington County, Utah, was born June 30, 1806, in Ellisburgh, Jefferson County, New York, and joined the Church May 15, 1831, in Amherst, Loraine County, Ohio. He saw Joseph Smith for the first time January 15, 1832, in Amherst.]
I knew he was a Prophet; and I considered him an uncommon man in ability, [he testifies, and relates the following recollections:]
Going up with Zion’s Camp he made a prediction that if they (the members of the camp) did not quit their jarring and contentions, some of them would die off like rotten sheep; and it was fulfilled to the letter. There were 13 died of the cholera in the camp, and he then called the brethren together and said there would not another one die, and no more deaths occurred.
The cholera that started in that camp, spread over the country, so that as we went back home the various towns we passed through, were afflicted with it, and it still continued to the eastern country.
[Elder John W. Hess, one of the presidency of the Davis Stake of Zion, and who resides at Farmington, Davis County, Utah, was born on the 24th of August, 1824, and was baptized into the Church in March, 1834. The following is a statement he makes of some incidents he recollects of the Prophet Joseph:]
In the autumn of 1838 my father lived in Ray County, Missouri, near the Richmond Landing. Joseph the Prophet, in company with his brothers Hyrum and William and eleven others whose names I do not remember, had been up to Caldwell County to lay out the city of Far West. When they got to the Missouri River on their return to Kirtland, they found that the boats did not run on regular time on account of the river being low, and as they were compelled to wait for a steamer, they came to my father’s house near the landing and stayed there thirteen days. Father was the only Mormon in that part of the country.
At that time Joseph was studying Greek and Latin, and when he got tired studying he would go and play with the children in their games about the house, to give himself exercise. Then he would go back to his studies as before. I was a boy then about fourteen years old. He used to take me up on his knee and caress me as he would a little child.
I relate this to show the kindness and simplicity of his nature. I never saw another man like Joseph. There was something heavenly and angelic in his looks that I never witnessed in the countenance of any other person. During his short stay I became very much attached to him, and learned to love him more dearly than any other person I ever met, my father and mother not excepted.
The next time I saw the Prophet was at the Richmond courthouse, in chains, after the surrender of the city of Far West. I used to walk six miles every day to see him during his stay in Richmond Jail. Although a boy of about fourteen years, I became convinced beyond doubt that he was a Prophet of God, and that testimony has never left me.
[Sister Bathsheba W. Smith, of Salt Lake City, widow of the late President George A. Smith, was born May 3rd, 1822, near Shinnston, Harrison County, West Virginia, and joined the Church August the 21st, 1837, at her birthplace. She first met the Prophet Joseph in 1839, at a meeting near Quincy, soon after he was released from prison. Of her impressions concerning his appearance and character she says:]
My first impressions were that he was an extraordinary man–a man of great penetration; was different from any other man I ever saw: had the most heavenly countenance, was genial, affable and kind, and looked the soul of honor and integrity.
I know him to be what he professed to be–a true Prophet of God, and the Lord through him restored the everlasting gospel and every ordinance and endowment that will lead us into the celestial kingdom.
[Some things she recollects of him are here given:]
I heard Joseph Smith preach baptism for the dead; saw him baptizing for the dead in the Mississippi River. I heard him say, “Peradventure, the Ten Tribes were not on this globe, but a portion of this earth had cleaved off with them and went flying into space, and when the time comes when the `earth reels to and fro like a drunken man and the stars from heaven fall,’ it would join on again.”
I heard him preach that the ancient order of Abraham should be restored.
In Nauvoo, at his home, while playing with my baby boy, he said the children were the “honor, glory, and royal diadem of woman.”
Once when speaking in one of our general fast meetings, he said that we did not know how to pray to have our prayers answered. But when I and my husband had our endowments in February, 1844, Joseph Smith presiding, he taught us the order of prayer.
I was present when William Law, Joseph Smith’s counselor, was dropped from that quorum by each one present voting yes or no in his turn. He was the first member that was dropped who had received his endowments. One member hesitated to vote, which called forth earnest remarks from the Prophet Joseph. He showed clearly that it would be doing a serious wrong to retain him longer. After his explanation the vote was unanimous.
Joseph Smith attended one of our Relief Society meetings in the lodge room. He opened the meeting by prayer. His voice trembled very much, after which he addressed us. He said: “According to my prayer I will not be with you long to teach and instruct you; and the world will not be troubled with me much longer.”
[Elder Levi Curtis, of Springville, Utah, relates the following incident which, as he states, was told him by one of the principal parties referred to.]
About the month of August, 1856, William D. Huntington and I went into Hobble Creek Canyon to get a tree or log suitable for making drums. After we had finished our labor and started for home, both of us riding on the log, our conversation naturally turned upon the doctrines of the Church and experiences of the past, when the life and labors of the Prophet Joseph were touched upon. This subject aroused into more than usual earnestness the mind and conversation of my associate.
He said that in Nauvoo he lived in the family of and worked for Joseph Smith at the time the Prophet had such a wonderful time with the sick, when nearly everybody was stricken down and he himself was among the afflicted, and was one of those who were healed by Joseph. He said he had been sick some weeks and kept getting weaker, until he became so helpless that he could not move. Finally he got so low he could not speak, but had perfect consciousness of all that was passing in the room. He saw friends come to the bedside, look at him a moment and commence weeping, then turn away.
He further stated that he presently felt easy, and observing his situation found that he was in the upper part of the room near the ceiling, and could see the body he had occupied lying on the bed, with weeping friends, standing around as he had witnessed in many cases where people had died under his own observation.
About this time he saw Joseph Smith and two other brethren come into the room. Joseph turned to his wife Emma and asked her to get him a dish of clean water. This she did; and the Prophet with the two brethren accompanying him washed their hands and carefully wiped them. Then they stepped to the bed and laid their hands upon the head of his body, which at that time looked loathsome to him, and as the three stretched out their hands to place them upon the head, he by some means became aware that he must go back into that body, and started to do so. The process of getting in he could not remember; but when Joseph said “amen,” he heard and could see and feel with his body. The feeling for a moment was most excruciating, as though his body was pierced in every part with some sharp instruments.
As soon as the brethren had taken their hands from his head he raised up in bed, sitting erect, and in another moment turned his legs off the bed.
At this juncture Joseph asked him if he had not better be careful, for he was very weak. He replied, “I never felt better in my life,” almost immediately adding, “I want my pants.”
His pants were found and given him, which he drew on, Joseph assisting him, although he thought he needed no help. Then he signified his intention to sit in a chair at or near the fireplace. Joseph took hold of his arm to help him along safely, but William declared his ability to walk alone, notwithstanding which, the help continued.
Astonishment had taken the place of weeping throughout the room. Every looker-on was ready to weep for joy; but none were able or felt inclined to talk.
Presently William said he wanted something to eat. Joseph asked him what he would like, and he replied that he wanted a dish of bread and milk.
Emma immediately brought what he called for, as one may easily comprehend, every hand was anxious to supply the wants of a man who, a few moments before was dead, really and truly dead! Brother Huntington ate the bowl of bread and milk with as good a relish as any he ever ate.
In a short time all felt more familiar, and conversation upon the scene that transpired followed. William related his experiences, and the friends theirs.
Joseph listened to the conversation and in his turn remarked that they had just witnessed as great a miracle as Jesus did while on the earth. They had seen the dead brought to life.
At the close of his narrative to me William Huntington remarked:
“Now I have told you the truth, and here I am a live man, sitting by the side of you on this log, and I testify that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.”
[The following reminiscences of the Prophet Joseph Smith are from Sister Mercy R. Thompson, of Salt Lake City, who joined the Church as early as May, 1836, near Toronto, Canada. Sister Thompson was born in Honidon, Bedsfordshire, England, June 15, 1807.]
My first introduction to the Prophet Joseph Smith, was in May, 1837, at Kirtland, Ohio; and on the 4th of June, following, I again met him at Brother John Gaylard’s house in Kirtland, where a small company of friends had gathered to witness the ceremony of my marriage to Robert B. Thompson, the Prophet performing the ceremony.
There were present on this occasion several of the Twelve Apostles with their wives, also the aged Patriarch Joseph Smith and his wife– father and mother of the Prophet–and also my brother Joseph Fielding and my sister Mary, who soon afterward became the wife of Hyrum Smith.
After the marriage ceremony was over we listened with joy and profit to the words of instruction and counsel which fell from the inspired lips of Joseph Smith, each word carrying to our hearts deeper and stronger convictions that we were listening to a mighty Prophet of God. And yet there was not the slightest appearance of ostentation or conscious power on his part; he was as free and sociable as though we had all been his own brothers and sisters, or members of one family. He was as unassuming as a child.
In February 1839, while Joseph and Hyrum Smith, with four other brethren were incarcerated in Liberty Jail, I accompanied my sister Mary from Far West, to visit them. It would be beyond my power to describe my feelings when we were admitted into the jail by the keeper and the door was locked behind us. We could not help feeling a sense of horror on realizing that we were locked up in that dark and dismal den, fit only for criminals of the deepest dye; but there we beheld Joseph, the Prophet, the man chosen of God, in the dispensation of the fullness of time to hold the keys of His kingdom on the earth, with power to bind and to loose as God should direct, confined in a loathsome prison for no other cause or reason than that he claimed to be inspired of God to establish His church among men. There also we found his noble brother, Hyrum, who, I believe was not charged with any other crime than that of being a friend to his brother Joseph. There also were four other brethren whose offenses were similar to that of Hyrum’s. The night was spent in fearful forebodings, owing to a false rumor having gone out that the prisoners contemplated making an attempt to escape, which greatly enraged the jailor and the guards.
Under these circumstances we were constrained to bid adieu to the Prophet and his brethren, and hasten our departure from Liberty. My sister was in very delicate health, having with her her babe only three months old, whom his father then saw for the first time.
The next time I saw the Prophet was on his arrival at Quincy, Illinois, after his almost miraculous escape from Missouri, with his fellow- prisoners, in April, 1839. Soon after this, arrangements were made for the Saints, who had been expelled from Missouri, to settle at Commerce, afterwards Nauvoo, where I became more intimately acquainted with the Prophet in consequence of my husband being employed as his secretary, and to whom the Prophet became very much attached, so much so that one day he jocosely said to me, “Sister Thompson you must not feel bad towards me for keeping your husband away from you so much, for I am married to him;” they truly loved each other with fervent brotherly affection.
I have seen the Prophet under a great variety of circumstances, in public, in domestic and social life and in sacred places.
I have seen him as if carried away by the power of God beyond all mortal conception, when speaking to the Saints in their public gatherings; and in less public places I have heard him explaining to the brethren and sisters the glorious principles of the gospel, as no man could, except by prophetic power.
I have seen him in the lyceum and heard him reprove the brethren for giving way to too much excitement and warmth in debate, and have listened to his clear and masterly explanations of deep and difficult questions.
To him all things seemed simple and easy to be understood, and thus he could make them plain to others as no other man could that I ever heard.
In a social gathering of the Saints at the Bowery near the site of the temple, I saw him rejoicing with the people, perfectly sociable and without reserve, occasionally uttering jokes for their amusement and moving upon the same plane with the humblest and poorest of his friends; to him there were no strangers and by all he was known as the Prophet and a friend of humanity. Still he had enemies, and they were always bitter, who wolf-like toward the lamb, hated him not so much as they thirsted for his blood, because their deeds were evil and their natures and their appetites had fallen to crave for violence and delight in vengeance.
I saw him by the bedside of Emma, his wife, in sickness, exhibiting all the solicitude and sympathy possible for the tenderest of hearts and the most affectionate of natures to feel. And by the deathbed of my beloved companion, I saw him stand in sorrow, reluctantly submitting to the decree of Providence, while the tears of love and sympathy freely flowed. Joseph took charge of the funeral ceremonies, strictly adhering to my husband’s wish that there should be no military or other display at his burial as had been but a short time before on the occasion of the burial of Joseph’s brother, Don Carlos, both having been officers in the legion.
Don Carlos died August 7th, 1841, Joseph’s little son, Don Carlos, died about August 18th, now, Robert B. Thompson, his faithful secretary, on the 27th of the same month, so that Joseph could feel the import of the lines of Dr. Young addressed to death:
Thy shafts flew thrice and thrice my peace was slain; Yea thrice, ere thrice yon moon had filled her horn.
This indeed was a time of sorrow, but I can never forget the tender sympathy and brotherly kindness he ever showed toward me and my fatherless child. When riding with him and his wife Emma in their carriage I have known him to alight and gather prairie flowers for my little girl.
I have been present at meetings of the Relief Society and heard him give directions and counsels to the sisters, calculated to inspire them to efforts which would lead to celestial glory and exaltation, and oh! how my heart rejoiced!
I was present at a prayer meeting held in the upper room of the brick- store building, at a time when his enemies were seeking his life.
At another time–a time never to be forgotten–I was present at a meeting when Joseph knelt down with the small congregation surrounding him, when every sentence he uttered seemed to convey to my mind, and to the minds of others present, the impression that this was our last meeting together–and so it was.
It seemed to me that there was nothing forgotten or omitted by him, at that time, which pertained either to himself or the Church generally.
A few days after this he called at his brother Hyrum’s to take leave of the family previous to their crossing the Mississippi River, intending to go west to the Rocky Mountains to seek out, if possible, a place of peace and safety for the Saints. His parting words to my sister Mary, as she wept at their going, were these:
“Sister Mary, don’t feel bad, the Lord will take care of you, and He will deliver us, but I do not know how.” The two brothers then started to cross the river, not knowing whether they would ever see their homes again or not. But on account of the feel- ings expressed by some of the brethren, who should have been their truest friends, and by their urgent request, sent after them, the brothers returned to Nauvoo the following day. Watching from a chamber window I saw them being rowed in a skiff across the river, until they landed, and walked up the riverbank to Hyrum’s house, where they both entered, Joseph seating himself, while Hyrum made some changes in his clothing, when they both went on to the mansion.
Although I did not know that the brothers had returned home to be taken as “lambs to the slaughter,” my feelings were indescribable, and the very air seemed burdened with sorrowful forebodings.
The awful scene at Carthage followed in a few days, and here all men must draw the veil, for until all the truth concerning these good men, and this black deed of their murderous foes, can be told and understood the history of this time will not be written. But the day will come when God will speak, and the martyrs and their history shall be known.
I received my endowments by the directions of the Prophet Joseph, his wife Emma officiating in my case, and in his instructions to me at that time he said:
“This will bring you out of darkness into marvelous light.”
[Sister Lucy M. Smith, widow of the late President George A. Smith, of Salt Lake City, gives the following account of her first meeting with the Prophet, and also some of her recollections of him:]
I was born February 9th, 1817, at Bethel, Oxford County, Maine, and I was baptized August 12th, 1837. I first met the Prophet Joseph Smith on a steamboat, when I landed at the ferry in Nauvoo. The first words he said to our company were: “I guess you are all Latter-day Saints here, by the singing I heard when the boat landed.” He then shook hands with each one in the company, and then took his sister, Lucy Millican’s seven months’ old boy in his arms and sat down and wept for joy, as his sister was thought to be in a decline when she left home the year before with her husband. She was indeed the picture of health when she returned, which gave the Prophet double joy on meeting her with her son.
President Joseph Smith, the Prophet, looked the same to me when I met him as I saw him in a dream before I left home. I can bear testimony that many of his prophecies have come to pass; not only his alone, but others who have been ordained under his administration, have uttered prophecies that have been fulfilled, to the letter. One I will mention in particular.
Apostle George A. Smith prophesied in the Kirtland Temple that the wild beasts should pick the bones of the mobocrat, Dr. Dodds. When we were crossing the plains on our way to the valley, a grave was observed on our right by Apostle George A. Smith and Brother Elijah Cheeny. They went to the grave and beheld Dr. Dodds’ name was on the board, and his bones strewn about, having been dug up and picked by wild beasts. Brother Cheeny testified that he heard Brother George A. Smith’s prophecy in the temple, also saw that the wild beasts had picked the old mobocrat’s bones. I heard this from their own mouths right there on the plains.
I heard the Prophet preach twice. Once at his mansion and once at the bowery. He spoke on the plurality of gods. He said, “There are lords many and gods many, but to us there is but one God;” but, said he, “there are gods to other planets. We read in the Bible,” he continued, “Father, Son and Holy Ghost, these three are one.” He said that was not the right rendering of that scripture. It should read “these three are agreed.” He remarked that he would like to speak to the people two hours, but the rain made such a noise on the umbrellas (it was raining at the time) it would be useless. “But,” said he, “I have brought the Laws and Fosters’ prophecy to the ground, as they predicted I should never speak from this stand again; but I have.” He then said, “Brethren and sisters, love one another; love one another and be merciful to your enemies.” He repeated these words in a very emphatic tone of voice with a loud amen.
The next day he went to Carthage; and on the evening of the 27th of June such a barking and howling of dogs and bellowing of cattle all over the city of Nauvoo I never heard before nor since. I was at Brother David Smith’s house. I knelt down and tried to pray for the Prophet, but I was struck speechless, and knew not the cause till the next morning. Of course the awful deed was already accomplished, when the spirit refused to give me utterance to prayer the evening before. The next day the bodies were brought and conveyed to the mansion. There I witnessed the awful scene–the Prophet and Patriarch lying in their gore, and thousands of men, women and children weeping all around.
The little children were very much attached to the Prophet, as he used to play with them as one of their equals. Indeed he was loved best by those who were the most acquainted with him. His daughter, Julia, told me that her papa talked to her before he left, and told her to be a good girl; and he particularly enjoined it upon her to never mistreat any of her playmates, and then he should be happy to meet her again. “Oh,” said she, “how bad I should feel if I thought I should not be prepared to meet my dear papa!”
My two brothers, Freeborn and David Smith, came to Nauvoo in the fall of 1842. They were very much attached to the Prophet Joseph Smith. My brother David was passing his store one day and he said the man of God ran out, took him by the hand and said, “God bless you, Brother Smith.” He said it made him feel so good to have the Prophet of God take so much pains to come out to shake his hand and bless him, he felt it through his whole system.
[Elder William M. Allred, of St. Charles, Bear Lake County, Idaho, was born in Bedford County, Tennessee, December 24th, 1819, and was baptized in Salt River, Monroe County, Missouri, September 10th, 1832. He says he first met the Prophet Joseph as he was going up in Zion’s Camp. Speaking of his impressions concerning the Prophet’s appearance and character, he says:]
I thought he had a very noble appearance, very kind and affectionate. I visited the camp several times while they were stopping on my Uncle James Allred’s farm. I know he was a true Prophet of God, for I have lived to see many of his prophecies fulfilled, and I am willing for this testimony to go to all the world.
[Other recollections of the Prophet he relates in the following:]
As I was not quite fifteen years old when I first saw him, I cannot remember many of his sayings at that time; but as he was returning, he preached in the Salt River Branch.
I was with him in the troubles at DeWitt, Adam-ondi-ahman, and in Far West. I have played ball with him many times in Nauvoo. He was preaching once, and he said it tried some of the pious folks to see him play ball with the boys. He then related a story of a certain prophet who was sitting under the shade of a tree amusing himself in some way, when a hunter came along with his bow and arrow, and reproved him. The prophet asked him if he kept his bow strung up all the time. The hunter answered that he did not. The prophet asked why, and he said it would lose its elasticity if he did. The prophet said it was just so with his mind, he did not want it strung up all the time. Another time when I heard him preaching he said if he should tell the people all the Lord had revealed to him, some would seek his life. Even as good a man as old Father C—-, here on the stand, he added, (pointing back to him) would seek his life.
I was present when he preached the first sermon on baptism for the dead. I remember my father said it was astonishing to him to think he had read the Bible all his life and he had never looked at it in that light before. I was present at the first baptism for the dead.