Being the commencement of a new year, I thought it a fit time to open a new book. I will, therefore, begin with a short sketch or biography of my life up to the time that I began my journal or diary, which was in Nauvoo, Illinois, A.D. 1845.
I was born February 2nd, 1823, township of Pomfret, Chautauque County, state of New York.
My parents were Benjamin and Sarah Brown.
My father was born, township of Queensbury, Washington County, state of New York, September 30th, 1794, and was the son of Asa, who was the son of Asa. Asa Brown, Junior, was the father of 12 children, six sons and as many daughters. Their names were as follows and according to age, Anna, John, Daniel, Deborah, Eleanor, Meribah, Asa, Robert, Felix, Polly, Benjamin, and Sally.
Sarah, my mother, was born April 20th, 1795, town of Granby, Hartford County, state of Connecticut. She was the eldest daughter of Henry and Sarah Mumford, whose family were five sons and three daughters, viz. Walter, Sarah, Henry, Sophia, Hannah, Edward, Manly, and Charles.
Henry was the son of Henry and Sarah and was born October, town of Simsbury, Hartford County, state of Connecticut, 16th October 1769. Died 28 July 1839. Sarah Thompson, his consort, born 6 August 1779. Died 31 July 1839.
Henry and Sarah Mumford. They were both members of the Church of Latter-day Saints. She joined June 11, 1838. He was baptized, together with his son Charles, the following Sabbath. They came to Nauvoo the ensuing spring and died soon after. He died July 28, 1839. She survived him but two days.
Henry Mumford, Senior, was born in the state of Connecticut. His children were Henry, Sarah, Polly, Dorothy, Nancy, Eleanor, John.
Of my father’s family. There is no record that I know of that runs back any farther than the above. I have heard them spoken of as being a family that often had things in the future made known to them and were singular in this respect. My grandfather predicted the day, hour, and minute of his death, for some years previous. A certain individual, of veracity, has certified to the fact of standing by his bedside with a timepiece to compare time and found it exact. Also, his son John was said to have great spiritual exercises in mind. He died before my recollection. I was sent to school at an early age and progressed rapidly, more so than children of my age. For example, when first sent to school, I knew nothing but the alphabet. [I] was asked by the teacher where I read. I confidently told her in Baker, which was in words of two syllables. I went to the head of the class directly. The next winter I was put in the first class in reading and spelling and continued there.
1833 This was before my remembrance. The summer of 1833, I attended the Academy in the village of Freedonia, two miles from home. I had, previous to this, been as far as vulgar fractions in arithmetic and nearly through them, had a pretty good knowledge of geography and writing. Whilst here I had the privilege of books from the library of the institution and improved a natural taste for reading by acquiring a 1834 better knowledge of history. The winter of 1833 and 1834, I attended district school. It was sometime during this winter that I, for the first time, heard from Elder Edmund Fisher a sermon on Mormonism, so called. After preaching, his father, an elderly man, spoke in tongues. The next summer I worked at home on the farm driving team, haying, harvesting, etc., etc.
1835 May 10, 1835, at conference held by the Twelve in the village of Westfield, that my father was baptized by William E. McCellin [McLellin], one of the Twelve at that time. I need not, nor can I, describe the peculiar grief and mortification which was thus drawn upon the head of our family, being as it were isolated and friendless, deserted by many that had been considered friends and subject frequently not only to contempt and scorn, but to insult mingled with abuse. July Shortly after, he was ordained an elder and began preaching in that immediate vicinity where his labors were blessed. This summer I attended the Academy, the next winter the district school.
1837 In the spring, 1837, we were visited by Presidents Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who on account of persecutions heaped upon them, after staying three days and nights in the woods concealed, had finally left Kirtland for a season and were directed to our house. They stayed with us for a few days. I became acquainted with them but more particularly with the Prophet Joseph, who was peculiarly adapted to the acquaintance of great and small.
My sister Cordelia was married August, Wednesday, 1837, to Robert Melvin Brown. 1838 He was the son of Felix Brown and my father’s nephew. January 21st, 1838. Mr. R. M. Brown united with the Church at Kirtland, Ohio, and the 13th May, following, my sister also was confirmed a member. During the summer of 1838, I was at the Academy and during the winter at the district school.
June 17, my mother, grandmother and two aunts were baptized. Aunts Hannah and Clarissa were the wives of Edward and Charles N. Mumford. The Sabbath following, June 24, Grandfather Mumford and Uncle Charles and also Mrs. Hannah Crosby and her son Jesse W., and July 15, Obed Crosby on the 22. Edward Thompson Mumford, November 18, Charles Norwood Mumford and Robert Melvin Brown were ordained elders.
During this summer and the ensuing winter, the meetings of the Saints were held in our house nearly every week. I seldom attended them but was firmly convinced of the truth and when I could resist its impressions no longer, I went forward with my cousin Henry in baptism, December 2nd, 1838. We were baptized by Elder Robert M. Brown, my brother-in-law and his brother.
December 16, Miss Frances Crosby was added to our number. This was a very severe, cold and stormy day and showed some fortitude on her part. There were many more added to our number before this and after, but I have not time nor room to write a history of our branch, but have noticed a few names with whom I had previously and have subsequently formed intimate associations.
1839 January 17, 1839. Brother Obed Crosby was ordained to the office of priest and myself as teacher, both offices pertaining to the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood. Tuesday, January 22, R. M. Brown and Elder Henry More started for Tonevanta for the purpose of preaching to that tribe of Indians.
1839 On the 29th of the same month they returned, bringing with them one of the tribe, William Clute. He was baptized the 31st and on the 4th of February, was ordained an elder and shortly after returned home with instructions to preach to his tribe. He has not been since heard of.
Our meetings were good. We were blessed spiritually with the gift of tongues, through which, and the interpretation, we learned many things. There were several hymns given, one of which was given through myself and interpreted by Sister Esther Crowely, who had the gift the most perfect of any person I ever knew. These lines I cannot withhold the impulse to subjoin as I then thought and still think them good. They were given several times until they were committed to memory.
Come every Saint and hearken now
Did you not make a solemn vow
When the Savior’s name ye took on you
With all your sins to bid adieu
In the eyes of all who did you see
Your covenant was to follow me
Thro vile report as well as good
To live by faith and every word
Think on the covenant you did mak(e)
Your secret prayers do not forsake
For when my saints neglect to pray
Their faith grows weaker every day
Advantage Satan then will take
And saints their covenant soon will break
Hear what neglect will bring Saint to
T’will bring them down to pain and wo
If the mysteries of Heaven they’ve known
Alas forever they’re undone
A lake of fire compared to
There they must dwell in pain and wo
April 21st Started on our westward journey to gather with the Saints, but where to go we hardly knew as this winter past, the brethren were expelled from Missouri, and there was now no particular location. Our company was composed of my father with two teams, Grandfather Mumford and Charles with one, Enoch Crowel in one drawn by a single horse and John and Jesse Crosby, who joined us two days after, with a three-horse team. We were altogether fifteen in number. Had a first-rate time on our journey, laying still on Sundays and attending prayers both morning and evening. One Sunday, while in the state of Ohio, there was a violent storm of rain. The next morning we had gone but a little way when we were stopped by a stream swollen high by the rain. Whilst consulting, one of our number spoke in tongues, which being interpreted, was that if we attempted to cross some of us would drown. This we afterward proved true. We stayed there all day. The brethren killed game, the sisters cooked. A pile of rails hard by made a very good table, and we had an excellent dinner. Each one contributing something. T’was a fine family and was enjoyed by all present.
June 6, Nauvoo Arrived in Commerce, Hancock County, June 6th, having been on the road six weeks and three days. This was the place of gathering and our destination. We found here the Presidency of the Church. They had been here about two weeks, having but lately escaped from prison in Missouri and the Saints were gathering to this point as they could. We lived in our wagons one week. Father then procured a house standing on the bank of the majestic Mississippi. While living in our wagons, planted about ten acres of corn on new, sandy land which grew without cultivation. Finished planting June 20th. The Saints, this season, were afflicted a great deal with sickness occasioned by their previous hardships and exposures through which they had passed in Missouri.
July 1839 People living in wagons and tents before they could build a log house would be taken sick and perhaps shake two or three months with ague or burn with fever. Some died, among whom was Sister Crosby, who came in with our company and was highly respected, dearly beloved and sincerely mourned by all her acquaintance. After an illness of about one week, she departed this life July 8, 1839, being the first one of the Saints that laid her down her body in Nauvoo, then called Commerce.
Our family were taken down with ague; mother first, then Melvin, then Cordelia.
12 I was taken with ague and had a hearty shake.
13 Cordelia’s child born, a son named Enos.
21 Her child died, its father, mother, and all hands, being sick. It was buried by friends. About the fifteenth of last month, grandfather, Uncle Charles, Enoch Crowel, and their families started off east, being quite homesick. They stopped in LaHarpe, a small town 25 miles east. They lived but a short time after.
28 Grandfather died after an illness of about 2 weeks. He had, a short time before his death, a view of his place of rest and told it to his friends.
30 Grandmother Mumford died, after a short illness. Both died in LaHarpe, 25 miles away.
September 9 Brother Obed Crosby died. Within three months, four of the best members of the Pomfret Branch have died and most of the others have suffered much from sickness and poverty. He died at LaHarpe.
December 12. Father removed about a mile and a half from the river where he had purchased a house with 16 or 18 acres of land, of Mr. Hiram Kimball, on the road to Carthage, the county seat.
1840 February 12 My sister died after a lingering of six months or more. There were none but father to follow her remains to the grave, but neighbors were kind. May God bless them. Her husband left last July for Quincy and from there started back to New York State with his brother- in-law Wood and family. He was sick when he left here, and his sickness followed him and he died on the road, but when or where I regret that I do not know.
May 1 About this time I quit shaking, having been sick for ten consecutive months, had the diahea [diarrhea] with me all this time. I do not recollect having a good night sleep during the time. From this time I recovered rapidly, but felt effects of my sickness for a year or more. During the summer of 1840 I worked at farming on some land belonging to Casto.
1841 January 17 Coming across the prairie from Bear Creek, with a load of lumber, I froze my feet so badly that I could not walk for six weeks. This was the coldest day I ever experienced. Facing a northwest wind so keen that my eyes would freeze together but for rubbing.
April Directly after the April Conference, father left home on a mission to the eastern part of New York and Vermont. I worked a good part of the time this summer at LaHarpe where I sowed five acres of oats and planted fifteen acres of corn. Besides this, I had about ten acres of corn at home. This all had to be plowed four times after planting, which kept me pretty tolerably busy.
July In this month father’s horses, which I drove and which were our main dependence, were killed by lightning while standing in the stable.
1842 At the April Conference President Joseph Smith requested all young men to come forward and be ordained elders. I went forward. This season we raised some corn but the greater portion of our time was employed in building a house 16 by 25 feet and two stories high and frame with good cellar under the whole.
1843 July 31 Father started on a mission to Nova Scotia accompanied by Elder Jess W. Crosby. But preached and baptized a number in Jefferson County, New York.
March 24th, 1844, Nauvoo This day I was married to Miss Frances Crosby, whom I have noticed on a foregoing page as belonging to our branch of the Church in New York. She came to this place in our Company in 1838. Her mother, previous to her last sickness, made a request of my mother that she, Frances, might have a home in our house and has most of the time since lived in our family. We were married by President Joseph Smith for time and eternity (a thing [then] uncommon) on Sunday morning before meeting and started across the prairie to LaHarpe to Uncle Edward T. Mumford’s. He married my wife’s sister Hannah and they had both taken very active measures in opposing our union. We did not tell them what had transpired, but at bedtime I asked Mrs. M. [Mumford] where we should sleep. [She] look[ed] at me for an instant to see if I was serious, then replied, in that bed, thinking I was in joke. We bundled off, they staring in perfect amazement and apparent confusion, not being invited to the wedding they were badly plagued. This was one method I had taken for revenge. My wife was the daughter of Joshua and Hannah Crosby, was born in the province of Nova Scotia, October 31st, 1817, being five years my senior. Their family were Hannah Eliza, John, Obed, Frances, and Jesse. They emigrated from their native land, 1823, to Chautauque County. Their family joined the Church with the exception of the father. He, at the time of their emigration to Nauvoo, remained on his old place and married again subsequent to the mother’s death.
June 27 Joseph and Hyrum shot in Carthage Jail. This was truly a gloomy time for all saints. The history of these times has so often been described by abler pens than mine, that I leave the task by saying that for most of the time this summer I was under arms doing military duty, liable and expecting to be called on any day to repel an invasion from the mob who had assembled at Carthage in large numbers.
July Harvested my wheat, which was on ground rented of Mr. Ezra Chase. It was very heavy, but, owing to the heavy rains all summer, there was not so good a yield as was expected. During the fall and shortly after harvest, there were a great many buildings burned in the southern part of the county, belonging to the brethren on Bear Creek and Morley settlements. I went on one or two expeditions to repel the burners. To go through a thickly settled portion of country and see where had stood houses, barns, and stacks, but now burned to the ground and some of them still smoking, was sufficient to make one’s heart ache, except it were of stone. Such were some of the tragedies enacted amongst a nation claiming to have attained to the height of civilization. I was not surprised nor grieved to hear that the mob had said that we must, as a people, leave the ensuing spring, as soon as grass grew and water runs and that the authorities of our church had assented to these proposals.
October At the conference in October, the quorums throughout the Church were reorganized, as many things were in perfect disorder. Many were ordained to the different quorums. I was ordained to the seventies, which is an apostle, under the hands of President Harrison Burgess of the second October 8 quorum, which quorum I joined. Edson Barney was senior president.
December Father returned in December having had a prosperous mission, 18 New York, and New Brunswick, the latter a British Province and filled with hard customers. Here he and Brother Crosby built up a branch despite the opposition which raised a mob and left father on the ground for dead. The leader of this mob has since become a member, his name Charles Shelton.
Nauvoo, December 1844 Father remained at home about a month.
January 27, 1845 When he started again for New York on a mission to collect tithing. He returned in May, having been prospered beyond his expectations. The past winter, I think in January, business called me about a hundred miles north. Understanding that William E. McLellin was in that vicinity, I gave him a call in order to collect a note given by him to father in 1835. He did not pay it but gave me a severe lecture on Mormonism, he having apostatized during the troubles in Far West, Missouri, being at that time one of the Twelve Apostles. He told me many things that were true and a great many that were absolutely false and I had the independence of mind to tell him so and advised him to repent. He lived at the little town of Hampton, where was also the abode of Laws and Fosters. The very atmosphere seemed impregnated with the powers of darkness, so much so, that for a long [time?] they seemed to be present with me. From this lesson, I determined never to get into the company of apostate saints again when it was possible to avoid it.
March 22 Benjamin was born and was named after his grandfather.
May Father returned from his tithing mission.
November 5 Wednesday I left Nauvoo with Brothers Danford Atwood, James Tyler and Howard Perry for the purpose of finding employment for a few weeks on the opposite side of the river. Found no work today. Meeting with Brother Simon Baker and went home with him about three miles out from Montrose.
6 Found a chance of going over the rapids on a flatboat or lighter to Keokuk, 12 miles, price one and a half dollars. Met with another chance on unloading lead and grain from the lighters and putting on the steamboats. Worked till ten in the evening at 18 3/4 cents per hour. Next morning took a job of unloading lead at fifty cents per hundred pigs. Finished about noon, received for my share two dollars, amounting to $4.06 in less than 24 hours. The next day went on foot to the head of the rapids Montrose, where we shipped as common hands on board the Steamer Cecilia bound for the upper trade.
9 Was occupied taking in freight. After dark, started for Galena. During the night we stopped at Madison, in Iowa. This is a very pretty location and handsome town.
10 Early stopped at Burlington, also in Iowa. This is a beautiful and flourishing town thirty- two miles from Nauvoo. Leaving this place we landed at Oquaka, Bloomington, then Rock Island and Davenport. These two last beautiful towns are situated nearly opposite each other. Rock Island being in Illinois, a little below an island of the same name. The island is three miles in length and properly named. On its lower end is situated Fort Armstrong, built in the Black Hawk War in . Of this we had a fine view, as also the former residence of the late General Davenport, who was murdered on the 4th of July last. At the upper end, but on main land, is a small town of Molier. Seven miles farther is Hampton, the abode of Laws, Fosters, Austin Cowles, McLellin, Hickses and a great number of the apostate crew and last but not least, Dr. John C. Bennett. Their characters are so universally known in the Mormon calendar, that I may pass them by without further notice.
11 After passing seven miles up Fever River, a very narrow stream, but navigable at all times, we arrived at Galena where the principle part of our freight was discharged, which consisted mostly of dry goods, groceries and liquors. This is a place of a great deal of business, from its being in close proximity to the celebrated lead mines of Illinois. Left here the same day. P.M. went on up the river past Dubuque, Iowa. During the night could not land on the main shore but on a small island between us and town.
12 Before day arrived at Cassville, Wisconsin Territory. This [is] quite a small place, but a place of considerable business.
Nauvoo, November 12, 1845 This town was built by a company from New York City with the expectation that it would become the seat of government. But failing in this, the place was likely to depopulate until mineral was discovered in the immediate vicinity [probably referring to Cassville, not Nauvoo].
13 Here our boat took on 1845 pigs of lead and returned to Galena by about four P.M. Here we took on 1500 pigs which comprised most of our lading, together with a beautiful barge which was in town. An eclipse of the moon took place whilst here. We left here the same night, after considerable trouble in turning round, on account of the narrowness of the stream. Boats run up to a bridge and half a mile farther up, I have been informed that a person can wade it, not wetting his knees.
16 Landed at Montrose. Received for wages $5.05. The same day, came across the river. Home, found the folks all well. Alexander Winchester, the son of our nearest neighbor died whilst I was absent which was on the 7th.
18 Crossed the river again and continued at work on the rapids until 26 the 26 when I returned home. The ice was running very thick and the weather being, the two boys to whom the skiff belonged, came near freezing. After breaking the ice for some time, we were finally obliged to leave the boat some forty rods from shore and make our way to land on the ice. The work on the rapids was loading and unloading lighters and steamboats and running them over the rapids. The water being so very low, that boats drawing 98 inches of water, could not cross. I had the pleasure of lying, the greater part of one very cold, windy day, on the rocks, through the ignorance of our pilot in knowing the proper channel. My wages for almost three weeks amounted to fifteen dollars, which was quite a windfall in these hard times and it helped us materially in our fit out for the west.
30 Met with my quorum, the first in four weeks, at Brother Hiram Gates’. We had a good meeting and received good instructions.
December 23 A state’s warrant having been issued for the arrest of President Brigham Young, an officer with a posse of eight men came into town. The President was in the temple at the time, whither they went in search. They sent up word for him to come out. He, having heard of their coming, was at the time, was in a room by himself and praying God to deliver him. On receiving the summons, he went into the big [room?] where, as if by accident, he met Brother William Miller and asked him to take his cap and cloak and go out to the officer. He did so. On coming out, the officer steps up and said, sir, I have a warrant for your arrest, and directed him to a seat in his, the officer’s carriage, and were instantly off on their way to Carthage, toward Springfield, their destination. Once out of town, they had great glee over their great good luck and in having outdone all contemporaries, thinking they had acquired great honor to themselves. But their chagrin and mortification is more easy to be conceived than described when, coming into Carthage, the first man they met says, how do you do Mr. Miller. He was immediately set at liberty and paid his expenses and passage home.
January 8, 1846 This day A.M., whilst working on the scaffold in the lower room of the temple, the scaffold gave way and myself and five others were precipitated from a height of from 12 to 15 feet onto the floor beneath, among tools, timber, plank, etc. I was the only one that escaped injury. Jesse Haven fell by my side with a very heavy plank lying across him. I sprang to his relief, thinking him dead. He revived shortly after, being taken into the air, but was badly hurt. Brother Josiah Perry struck on his feet and has never recovered their use.
1844 May 30 Whilst working at the crane, I came near being killed by a large stone slipping out of the sling. I was standing, at the time, directly under it but stepped three feet one side without knowing of danger and saved my life.
February 13, 1846 January 12th, 1846. Received my endowments, also my wife. Got this date from Bishop A. H. Raleigh. Received my patriarchal blessing from under the hands of Father Isaac Morley and my father.