My father was born Permolberry, Massachusetts, May 22, A.D., 1775. My mother was born Hartford, Connecticut, June 17, A.D., 1775. My father and mother were married August 18, A.D. 1796. My eldest Brother Isaac M. Beman was born December 27, A.D. 1797. My oldest sister, Betsy B. Beman, was born May 29, A.D. 1800. My brother, Alva P. Beman was born October 27, A.D. 1803. My sister Sarah M. Beman was born April 9, A.D. 1806. My sister Margaret P. Beman was born July 22, A.D. 1808. I was born October 19, A.D., 1810. My sister, Louisa Beman was born February 7, A.D. 1815. My sister, Armisia Beman was born March 3, A.D., 1819. This constituted my father’s family.
In 1799 my father left Massachusetts and moved to the state of New York, in Levonia, Livingston County, state of New York, where I was born. The earliest part of my life I spent in attending school. I did not, like the most children, idle away my time, but my time was devoted to my books. At the age of 10 and 12 I had a very good understanding of geography and grammar. At the age of 14 I boarded out and attended a select school. I drew several maps and my time was devoted to my studies. Of this, the winter seasons I spent in school, the summer season my time was employed in the domestic affairs of my father’s family.
My father, as a farmer, had a very expensive farm. He raised a great many sheep and cattle. He also raised flax and other things. My time, together with my sisters, was spent in manufacturing cloth and attending the dairy. During this time I spent six months in a very interesting select school and six weeks I attended a grammar school, at the close of which, I, with one other person, received a recommend stating that we were well qualified for teaching any school. This completed my studies for school teaching in the spring of 1828.
When I was in my 18th year I commenced to teaching school. I kept four months, gave good satisfaction. I taught about four miles from my father’s. The next season I taught five months in Mendon, Monroe County, New York. I had very good success during this time.
My father sold his place in Levonia and we moved with his family to Avon, Livingston County. Some year-previous to this, my father became acquainted with father Joseph Smith, the father of the Prophet. He frequently would go to Palmyra to see father Smith and his family during this time. Brother Joseph Smith came in possession of the plates that contained the Book of Mormon. As soon as it was noised around that there was a Golden Bible found, for that was what it was called at the time, the minds of the people became excited, and it rose to such a pitch that a mob collected together to search the house of father Joseph Smith to find the records. My father was there at the time and assisted in concealing the plates in a box in a secluded place where no one could find them, although he did not see them. My father soon returned.
At this time I was engaged most of the time in school teaching. The next season I taught in Avon, Livingston County, New York. I taught there two seasons, and there I became acquainted with Joseph B. Noble. I first received introduction with him at Mr. [James] McMillan’s house. The first time I ever saw him I felt an attachment for him that I never did any other man from so short an acquaintance.
Previous to this my father purchased a Book of Mormon, the only one in that region of country. I took this book down where I was teaching school. It was the first one they ever saw. There were different opinions respecting the book. Some believed in it, others did not. I lent the book to Mother Wilcox. She was a believer in it, and her son. Mr. Noble was boarding there at this time. He likewise read it and after this the elders came around preaching, first ones I ever saw, with the exception of father Smith and Samuel, that were around preaching here.
Brother Joseph Young and Brother Brigham Young, Father Smith, and Samuel had been to father’s before this on business, but when I came to see the two Brother Youngs, I had a testimony in myself that they were servants of the Lord, for they looked different to me than any other men I ever saw. They carried an expression in their countenances that be spoke men of God. From that time they used to call to fathers often in company with others. Father house was the only one in that region that they visited. I was always edified when in that society, to hear them converse on the subject of Mormonism, for I realized that they were in possession of something that I was not. It was my meditations by day and by night; the principles of the gospel that they held forth on the subject of Mormonism I knew were principles that I had never heard preached by any other people, and I had a testimony within myself that it was the truth of God.
At this time I was teaching school, as I said before, in Avon, Livingston County, and Mr. Noble was boarding at Mr. Knowles, the same place I made my home when I did not go to my fathers. My father lived about two miles from there. At this time Mr. Noble was paying attention to Mr. Owles daughter. She was a fine girl. She was my intimate acquaintance. She was also a school teacher. We were frequently in each other’s society. She was naturally rather of a proud spirit girl and did not care much about religion, but was naturally very lively, and I was rather different turn. I always had respect for the principles of truth and righteousness and sought the happiness of others as well as my own; I did not much expect at this time ever to be united to Mr. Noble. Still, it would have been a matter of my choice, could I have been permitted to have made it.
But I unbosomed my feelings to no one. I held sacred the feelings of my heart. My mind was employed in school and I attended my own business, and trusted in the Lord, believing he would rule all things for my good, and for the glory of God. I taught school two seasons in the same district. About this time, Mr. [Joseph B.] Noble was baptized into the Mormon Church, as it was then called. His conversation was highly gratifying to me. He was a person of good habit, good principles, and a fine intelligent young man. In his society I was happy.
The next season I taught school in the neighborhood of my fathers. This was 1833, in the fall and winter of the same year. I commenced keeping company with Mr. Noble, and in a year, the spring of 1834, Brother Joseph Smith came from Kirtland, Ohio, to my father’s New York estate, Avon, Livingston County. This was the first time I ever beheld a prophet of the Lord, and I can truly say at the first sight that I had a testimony within my bosom that he was a man chosen of God to bring forth a great work in the last days. His society I prized, his conversation was meat and drink to me. The principles that he brought forth bind the testimony that he bore of the truth of the Book of Mormon made a lasting impression upon my mind. While he was there, Sidney Rigdon and Joseph and Brigham Young, Luke and Lyman Johnson, and 12 or 14 of the travelling elders had a council to my father’s. I, in company with my sisters, had the pleasure of cooking, and serving the table, and waiting on them, which I considered a privilege and blessing.
Brother Joseph and Elder Rigdon held a meeting in Geneva, which is called the Orton neighborhood, in a barn. Elder Rigdon preached, Brother Joseph bore testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and of the work that had come forth in these last days. Never did I hear preaching sound so glorious to me as that did. I realized it was the truth of heaven, for I had testimony of it myself. Many very interesting interviews we have had with them while they were at my father’s house.
At length the time arrived for them to start back to the Ohio, for they intended to take a journey [Zion’s Camp] that season for Missouri at a distance of a thousand miles, for previous to this the Lord had said in a revelation to Brother Joseph, “Gather up the strength of mine house, yea, ye young men and middle aged, and march to Zion for the redemption of the Saints,” for it was then in possession or in hands of a ruthless mob that had driven the Saints from their houses and homes which they had purchased with their own money and were then in a suffering condition.
Some were called upon to go from the branch of the church where I lived. Among the rest was Mr. [Joseph B.] Noble, the person that I have before mentioned, which a few months previous to this had visited my father’s house frequently. I had also received his addresses. On the first of May he called in the evening to take his leave. He said he was going to start the next morning for Missouri. We bid adieu for a season, but under the most solemn engagement. At his return and if all of our lives were spared, we were to be united in the bonds of matrimony, for that cord of filial affection that was existing between us was not easily broken.
I was then engaged in school in the neighborhood of my father. For six months my time was constantly employed either in school or at home almost every night. After I dismissed my school I would bow before the Lord and in my supplications I would remember the Zion’s Camp as they were called, for I felt and realized that they would have a great trial to pass through if they accomplished what they designed in their hearts, and that was to restore the brethren to the land of their inheritance. They passed through many trials on their journey, and after they arrived there many scenes transpired that would be interesting to relate, but I was not an eyewitness to these circumstances that [writing was blurred] I will defer mentioning them. I will only say that Brother Joseph Smith told them that the Lord had accepted their offering and it was even like that of Abraham. He offered up his son, Isaac.
But nevertheless, said he, there is scourge laid up for this people. I prayed that it might be turned away, but it will come. Soon after the cholera come among them. It took 14 of the most faithful brethren away, and many others were very sick, but I did not hear anything about it until one of the brethren returned back to York State where I resided, as I said before.
My time was employed in teaching school in the neighborhood of my father, and also making preparations for marriage and the return of Mr. Noble in the fall if the Lord should spare his life. The intelligence of the death of our brethren reached us the first of August. It was on sabbath morning. Brother Orton came to our house and brought the news. He himself was there, and witnessed the whole scene.