“Memory would fail to write a full account of my life’s history as it has been made up of hardships, poverty, and persecutions ever since I embraced the Gospel in the year 1834. I cannot give exact dates, so my history will be imperfect on that account, as I failed to keep a journal and depend on my memory. But in writing up this short history of my life many incidents occur to my mind which would be worthy of note, but I never expect it to be published, therefore, I merely detail the outlines of my travels and persecutions for the Gospel’s sake (in connection with my husband until the time of his death) for the benefit of my posterity after me, which I think they will read with interest when I am gone, for I am now in my eightieth year and cannot expect to stay much longer on this side of the veil.”
I was born on the 14th of May, 1816, in the town of Henderson, Jefferson County, state of New York. My parents were church-going people, my mother a Baptist, my Father, Arron Alexander, was a Universalist. He died when I was four years old. He left my mother a nice little farm and comfortable home, but misfortunes overtook her and she lost all. She kept her children together as long as she could. There were four of us, two girls and two boys. She kept the youngest with her. The rest of us were put out to live. It fell to my lot to go to my grandfather’s on mother’s side to live. His name was Francis Jones.
I had a good home and good care. As soon as I was old enough, they sent me to school. I was taught in all the common branches. As I grew older, I had acquired a fair education. When I was 15, I could spin and weave, knit and sew, and I always felt thankful to grandmother for teaching me to do lots of work. After years, when thrown upon my own resources, it was of great benefit to me. Two of my aunts and two of my uncles remained at home. I was a great favorite in the family, yet I had to strictly observe the Sabbath Day and go to Sunday School and meeting amongst the Methodist persuasion, for grandmother belonged to that order, and I thought they were the best people in the world. I had a religious turn of mind and in my childhood I read the Bible and went and prayed with all the sincerity in the world, for I wanted to be a Christian and be happy like they were. But I never joined them. When I was about 13 years old, there was a great revival among them. I attended their camp meeting. They covered more than an acre of ground with their tents. They held their meetings for several days and made many converts. Among the rest they had me on the anxious seat, as they called it, but I failed to get that change of heart as some of them did that seemed to carry them to the three heavens, and they shouted, “glory hallelujah, I have got religion.” I wanted with all my heart to be good, but I could feel no different. I did not know that the true Gospel was so near my door and that I was being prepared to receive it with all my heart, as was the case.
A few years later when I was 15, my mother came to see me and to visit her parents, brothers, and sister. She lengthened her stay to one year. I was now 16. I had lived ten years with my grandparents. Mother was going home. I was going to school, but I wanted to go home with my mother. She consented to let me go. I knew I was leaving a good home and good friends, and I knew mother was not in a situation to do for me as my grandmother had. But I felt I must go, so I went for the last day to school to bid my school mates and teachers farewell and took my departure from a home I loved. It was 100 miles, which then seemed a long journey.
We reached the town of Henderson, Jefferson County, after three days’ travel. It was still winter and schools were still in session. Mother got me a place to board and sent me to school again. After the close of school in the spring, for the vacations were in the spring and fall, I hired out doing housework for I think one dollar a week to Abram Tracy. His wife was mother’s cousin. When it came time to open school again, I had an offer to teach, but declined. I thought I was too young to take such a position, so I worked on.
At length, Mr. Tracy’s brother Moses came into the neighborhood and came to see his brother. Finally, his visits became more frequent, until I formed an acquaintance with him. He became my escort when I went out. It finally went farther. I found him to be a young man of good habits and a working man. I accepted his offer of marriage, and we were married on the 15th of July, 1832. My husband took me home to his father’s to live until he could make us a home. In the fall we went to keeping house. The winter passed pleasantly. We went to Herkimer County and had a good time visiting my old home and friends at grandmother’s, and we called it our wedding tour. We enjoyed it very much. When spring came, of course work began for us. He to the plow; I to the spinning wheel. We determined to be self-sustaining as much as possible, and I felt to thank grandmother for teaching me how to do all kinds of work, for now it was of great use to me. I could knit, sew, spin, and weave and do common cooking and could yet learn.
Everything was bright before us. As yet we had not tasted the bitter. Those were happy days. That summer we began to hear rumbles about a gold bible that a gold-digger had dug up. Reports came fast and thick. It made quite an excitement. The newspapers were full of the vilest slander about Joseph Smith, the finder of these gold records. Time passed on in this way for awhile. At last there came sole traveling preachers styling themselves Mormon missionaries. Of course, prejudice was against them. However, they succeeded in getting a place to hold meeting. I heard of it. It was two miles from where I lived, but out of curiosity I determined to go and see and hear what those horrid creatures looked like and had to say, for I hardly expected they were human from what I had heard. So I got two other woman to go with me and repaired to the place appointed. The house was filled, waiting to see this wonderful man. My astonishment was better felt than described when he appeared tall and st with piercing black eyes filled with the spirit of God. He gave out a hymn and sang, a few joining him. Then he prayed and such a prayer! He was full to the brim. All eyes were upon him and you could have heard a pin drop. It seemed as though his influence put all prejudice under his feet. He took his text from the Bible, but I have forgotten it. However, I well remember his powerful sermon on the first principles of the Gospel as taught by the Savior and his apostles. O how plain and beautiful and easy to understand. I believed with my whole soul and I could see that I had been preserved from uniting with other creeds and was waiting to here and told the folks that for the first time I had heard the true Gospel preached by David Patten who had been chosen as an Apostle, ordained and set apart to teach the pure doctrine of our Savior. They laughed at me and cried, “Delusion, false prophets,” and so on. But the seed had taken root and I would talk with my husband and was very anxious that he should hear and investigate. So I waited. At last Parley P. Pratt came into the neighborhood, another apostle. So there was a great turnout to hear him. My husband went and his eyes began to be opened. He began reading the Bible. He took his time to investigate. By this time other elders came. There were quite a number who believed and were baptized. As yet we had not joined them, although I had longed to do so. On the 25th of November, 1833, there came a son to our house to take up his abode and for six weeks I hovered between life and death. By this time there had been a branch organized, and James Blaksley was set apart to preside. He would come and talk of the gifts and blessings of the Gospel, the healing of the sick by the power of faith. But I felt unworthy to claim the blessing because I had not done my duty, but I determined that if the Lord would spare my life, when I was able I would be baptized. So In the spring of 1834, the 10th of May, my husband and myself were baptized with Elder Thomas Dulcher officiating. We were confirmed at the water’s edge.
Still Elders came. Orson Pratt came, another of the Apostles. There was a large branch of the church raised up in Jefferson County also in surrounding counties. The gifts of the Gospel were poured out. The sick were healed. One instance I will relate: A young lady, Emily Fuller by name, had joined the church and came from another branch to visit for a few days. She was at Brother Blaksley’s and was suddenly taken ill and went into convulsions. She grew worse. Her frame was racked with cramping. It took three or four of us to keep her on the bed. The elders were away quite a distance, filling appointments. My husband was at home, but he only held the office of a deacon, so consequently could not administer the ordinance of the laying on of hands to rebuke the destroyer. But everything was done that could be, but nothing relieved her. It seemed the evil spirits were bound to destroy her. At last my husband got on a horse and rode 14 miles and brought Elder Ducher to administer to her. She was in great agony when he came in. He knelt down and prayed mightily for strength and power that he might rebuke the destroyer and bid him depart. He arose and went to the bed side, laid his hands upon her head and clothed with the authority and power of the priesthood, be rebuked the destroyer and told her to be made whole and arise from her bed, which she did and called for water to wash and the comb to comb her hair, although she was very weak for she had been in this state for twenty-four hours. Time can never erase this from my memory for I was an eye witness of the whole thing and it was the power of God that raised her up.
Many other instances came under my observation of the marvelous blessings and gifts of the Gospel. The work spread and the honest were baptized and the spirit of gathering to the places appointed was great. Kirtland, Ohio, was the first gathering place. There the prophet, Joseph Smith, dwelt with his family and there the Lord had commanded a house to be built to his name. It was already started to be built. The Saints having gathered in this place numbered perhaps three hundred. We began to feel that we wanted to gather with the Saints. Finally we made up our minds that we would go in the spring. This was in the winter of 1835. I was full of the Gospel, and wanted to visit my grandfather’s before going west and bear my testimony to them of the truth of Mormonism, for as yet there had been no elders that way. But I thought I could convince them of the truth of the Gospel. We went to see them and they were glad to see us, but thought we were deluded and would not listen; so we bade them farewell and began to prepare for our journey west. But I will say that it was hard to leave grandmother; the good old soul that she was. She had been everything to me, and I knew that I never would see her again in the flesh. I have her picture, and it is a sacred treasure to this day.
We began preparations for our journey. We had a fine span of horses and a new wagon and decided to go by land. It was about 400 miles. So we bade adieu to home, friends, and relatives and all that was dear and started for the home of the Saints. Philinda Colvin, my husband’s cousin, went with us. It was really a pleasure trip. We stopped at hotels every night but two and were ten days on the road. We arrived at our destination none the worse for traveling. We rented a room from Lyman Sherman, moved into it, and on the Sabbath following went to the meeting. It was held inside the temple walls. For the first time we saw Prophet Joseph and heard him preach. There was no work to be had so my husband went to work on the temple. He sold our horses and lived on what money we had. There was one day when the Prophet Joseph came to our room for my husband. Oliver Cowdery was with him. He wanted some money, for he was encumbered. My husband readily gave him the desired amount of fifty dollars, and he sat down to write a note. My husband told him he did not want a note and that his word was sufficient. Joseph made the reply, “Brother Tracy, business is business and we want to do it correctly.” He gave the note payable one day after date. He said, “When you think you need the money, let me know in time, so I can get it for you.” Brother Tracy told him he should not need it until the next spring. We got very well acquainted with the prophet. We attended all the meetings and had a good time in general.
In October of that year, I had another son. We wanted him to have a big name out of the Book of Mormon, so we called him Lachoneus Moroni, after two great men. He was a beautiful child.
The work on the [Kirtland] Temple was progressing nicely, and it was to be finished and dedicated in the spring.
Sometime in January, Brother Harry Brown and we joined together and made a feast. We were going to receive our Patriarchal Blessings under the hands of Father Joseph Smith, Sr. So we invited until the house was filled. We had a joyful, happy time, long to be remembered. We all partook of refreshments and wine and had much good instruction from some of the Twelve that were present.
In the spring following, the Temple was finished and dedicated. He [this] continued for two days, and they were two of the happiest days of my life. The fitting hymn that was composed for the occasion was “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.” It was verily true that the heavenly influence rested down upon that house, and the people were glorious and long to be remembered. Heavenly Beings appeared to many. I attended both days. I felt that it was heaven on earth, and I said, “Shall we always enjoy such blessings? No, this is to prepare us that we shall have strength to endure, for we have the opposing element to contend with and shall be made perfect through suffering.” Blessings were poured out. Solemn assemblies were called. Endowments were given. The elders went from house to house, blessing the Saints and administering the sacrament. Feasts were given. Three families joined together and held one at our house. We baked a lot of bread and had the best of wine. This was the bill of fare.
A good many of the Saints had moved to Missouri, Jackson County, another of the gathering places, had bought lands, built houses, and were getting quite comfortable and beginning to prosper. Satan then began to stir up the hearts of the people, and they commenced their hostilities, destroying the property and gathering in mobs. They at last made them leave the county. The Saints suffered untold hardships, but could get no redress. The people of Clay County took them in for a season.
While this was going on, we had just come to Kirtland, so we were not partakers in this persecution. But we intended, when the right time came, to go up to Missouri. So in the spring, after the dedication of the Temple, there were many of the elders sent out on missions, and my husband took a short mission back to New York to bear his testimony once more to his friends of the truths of the Gospel, for he was full of the spirit of it. He intended, to ask council of the prophet about going to Missouri. He returned somewhere about the middle of June and went to Brother Joseph to see what he should do. Brother Joseph bowed his head for a moment, and then said, “It is the will of the Lord for you to go to that land, and you will need the money I owe you, and you shall have it although I do not know how I am going to get it. Before get ready and let me know a day or two before you start.”
So the preparation began. We bought a large yoke of oxen, lengthened the reach to the wagon, made the bed long, so there would be two beds made up lengthwise with a space in the center and a door at the side, for we were going to take another family in our wagon, Brother Dimick Huntington, wife, and three children. There were two other families going in company with us, William Corey and Ezra Parish. Four families with three wagons, each with one yoke of cattle, we were ready to start out. Brother Joseph sold half an acre of land and came and paid the money, saying, “I told you you should have it.”
We started out on our long and toilsome journey of one thousand miles. Plain to be seen that this was not going to be a pleasure trip like unto our first. We had no tents. The weather was very warm. Our travel was slow, but nothing occurred worthy of note until we arrived into the edge of the state of Missouri, when in crossing a narrow bridge over a stream, one of Brother Cory’s oxen dropped on the middle of the bridge, his team being ahead. He commenced to flounder, and we expected to see the wagon thrown into the stream, but the men managed to get the yoke off and dragged the oxen off the bridge, where he soon died. There was not room on the bridge to pass the wagon with another team, so the family got out, and the men managed to haul it off, after taking out some of the things. They then took turns with their teams in hauling his load until they found a chance to trade for another ox.
We were now about 150 miles from our destination. We traveled on for a day or two, when one of Brother Corey’s children was taken sick and died. So we had to stop and make preparations to bury the child. It was in a forest with no inhabitants, so they made a rude coffin. We washed and dressed the child, laid it in its narrow bed, and it was then consigned to its lonely grave.
The next day we traveled on in hopes our troubles were over, but not so. Sister Corey though this a great trial, and so it was, but worse was to come. We had not gone far when Brother Corey was taken sick very suddenly and went right out of his mind. He raved and tried to get his gun to shoot the brethren, as they tried to administer to him, until his strength was spent. He was a large and powerful man, so at times they had to hold him down. At last he was too weak and gave up. We were near a settlement where there were some empty cabins. The men got the consent of the owners, and we took Brother Corey’s family in with us into one of the cabins. Brother Huntington went half a mile further and found a log hut. Brother Parish traveled on, so we had the sick to care for. Some of the family was taken down with the ague, Sister Corey with the rest, also my oldest child. We had our hands full. We had been so delayed that our stock of provisions was giving out. Brother Corey was getting weaker and was unconscious all the time. Some times he would jump out of bed and then swoon away, and I would have to get him back the best way I could, for his wife was not able to help me, and my husband was out working for provision. I do not know how I got along, but I was nerved up for the task and made strong. Brother Corey lingered a few days and then died. I was alone with the family when he breathed his last except for a woman who had dropped in. Brother Huntington and my husband soon came and had to begin preparations for the burial. They got some lumber and with the aid of one or two of the settlers made as good a coffin as they could. They dressed him and put him in his narrow bed. His wife was so sick she had to be supported, while she took her last earthly look of her husband and the father of her children. They dug a grave, and he was buried in silence without ceremony except a prayer.
Now to return to the family. There were four of them lying sick, the mother and three children. We could not leave them as they were too sick to go, we had to stay and take care of them. My little boy was getting better, so we stayed. I took care of the sick, while my husband worked for provisions such as he could get, meat and bread stuffs. At last the family recovered sufficiently, so that we felt justified in leaving them, for they they would try to go no farther that year. The people were very kind although scattered half a mile apart. We began fixing up to go on again, for it was getting late in the season, and we wanted to reach our destination and prepare for winter. Our nearest neighbor, Birch by name, had been very kind to us through these trying times and scenes, and Mrs. Birch made a dinner for us before we started to go. I can truly say I never sat down to a table in my life spread with luxuries that I enjoyed as I did that meal. It consisted of nice fresh venison, stewed down with sweet potatoes, and corn bread and coffee and some honey. This was the bill of fare, and it was delicious. After biding adieu to these kind people, for a friend in need is a friend indeed, we started out to make an end of our journey.
We had now 100 miles before us, and it was October. It took us until the very last of the month to get to Far West, for now the Saints had located another gathering place in Caldwell County, Missouri, and had commenced to gather in from Clay County, and building had begun, but not a house was finished. The Saints were in destitute conditions and circumstances in consequence of persecution and being driven from their homes. It was the same with us. Our clothes and shoes were giving out. When we camped, my husband went to work with a will. He cut prairie grass for the cattle in the winter, and cut logs and built us a cabin, covered it with what they called shocks, split out of the timber, a floor of the same kind. The chimney was of sod. Never did anybody enjoy a mansion or appreciate more than I did the humble abode. When I went into it, the cold and storms were getting severe. It was the last part of November, and some provisions were the next things to look after. There was no alternative but to take team and go 30 miles over the bleak prairie to a settlement to get flour and earn some money on which to live. So my husband started out and left me with the children just coming down with whooping cough. He found work and earned 100 pounds of flour and a barrel of shelled corn. When he started for home, it was so freezing cold in crossing the prairie that he nearly froze to death. When he felt himself going to sleep, he was just able to rally himself and jump out of the wagon and then he didn’t dare get in again, but ran and jumped until he got his blood to circulate. He was alone and in the night the wolves howled around him, but he got home safely at last with our winter’s supply of bread stuffs. We could get no vegetables, but game was plentiful, such as deer, turkeys, and prairie chickens. My husband had a good gun and was a good marksman and often brought down deer which supplied us with meat, as they were fat. I made candles of their tallow. Wood was plentiful, and with an open fireplace and our tallow candles the evenings were pleasant, and we were indeed happy and thankful to the Lord for his blessings, feeling that he was ever mindful of those that trusted in him. I never felt to complain or murmur in our trials and afflictions.
When spring came, my husband procured 40 acres of land three miles from Far West, for that was the name given to the city. He planted corn and other things. We raised quite a crop. We still lived in the city, and all things moved along nicely. We believed we had found a permanent resting place. Brother Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and their father and their families had come up to Far West; so we were blessed again with their presence and council and could hear the words of life and salvation that flowed from their lips. Before we realized any benefit from our crops, we had to live very clo sometimes having to gather greens and dig roots to make a meal. Shoes and clothing were out of the question just at this time, but after a while a man by the name of Adam Lightner came in and brought a stock of goods and set up a store. I got sewing to do and got store pay for my work. However, we had peace. The spirit of mobocracy had lulled. We could go to meeting and enjoy our religion, and at present, no one interfered, but how long was it going to last? We shall see.
We built a cabin on our farm and moved into it the next season in order to be near my husband’s work. We had an ox team, so we could go over to Far West for meetings. There was a nice grove of timber on the place and a stream of water. Wild turkeys roosted in the trees around the house, and we surely had to look out for rattle snakes, especially in the fall. When the hickory nuts were ripe, they would fall on the roof, and everything was so nice.
But the third year the Missourians saw how the Saints were prospering, and they could not rest. They commenced on the outskirts where the Saints had settled on the stream and began to plunder and turn their horses into the brethren’s fields, to go into the houses and insult women and children and abuse them, and to take the brethren prisoners into their camps, until, at last, the brethren could stand it no longer.
The mob went with a large force into Crooked River with a Methodist minister at their head and took the brothers prisoners and abused the people until they had to dispatch a messenger to Far West for assistance. We had to move back into the city for it was not safe to stay outside, because the people were getting so hostile, and, besides, I had been confined with my third child. I was sick in bed, when about midnight, we heard the drum beat on the public square, which was a signal for the brethren to come together. My husband immediately arose, dressed, and went over to the square. When volunteers were called for to start right away for the scene of trouble to try to make peace if not to disperse the mob, they organized a company of fifty with David W. Patten as their captain. My husband came home and told us he had volunteered to go with the brethren to disperse the mob at Crooked River. I was very sick and in bed with a young babe and shaking with the ague, but I told him to go and I would do the best I could, although I was alone with my three little children and couldn’t get out of bed. So he prepared himself as quickly as he could and started off. It was 20 miles to the scene of trouble. They arrived just at break of day. There was timber on the brow of the hill above the river, and the mob had stationed a guard in this timber. They fired on the brethren without calling for them to halt and wounded one young man by the name of Obanyon [Patrick O’Banion], who died in a few hours. He was left back with two brothers to care for him, while the company went on down to the camp to disperse the mob. A battle ensued in which the captain was mortally wounded and died the next day. Gideon Carter was killed outright. Others of the brothers were wounded, but in the conflict the mob took to flight; some cut their horses loose; some left their guns and other camping utensils on the ground. And now who were the aggressors? Our people were dwelling in peace, minding their own affairs, tilling the soil on the land they had bought and paid for, but the spirit of the wicked could not rest as has been in all ages of the world when the Lord had a people on the face of the earth. So it was n. The devil raged, and the people imagined vain things. Well, this tirade of mob violence was not going to stop here. However, my husband came home the next day. I had not been out of bed, and had had no one to wait on me except my little boy five years old.
The news of this battle spread like wildfire, and soon the whole state was in arms against a few innocent, law-abiding citizens that would gladly dwell in peace with them if they would let them. We had been smitten and driven about, the women and children suffering and cold and hungry, until it was unbearable, and what was to be done? In vain they sought redress from those in power. Although they plead and petitioned, it was without avail. The state marshaled its hosts, and with General Clark at their head, they came and camped on a stream one mile from Far West. Clark, with others of his officers, came in and demanded our leaders. One Colonel Hinkle betrayed them into their hand, and they were taken into the camp of the enemy. A court martial was held, a strong guard was placed over them, and they were sentenced to be shot the next morning. Previous to their being taken into the camp of the enemy, Brother Joseph had called the brethren together and talked to them. He told them to be valiant and firm and to put their trust in God. He said, “The enemy is at our doors. Let us stand by one another even unto death, for we have broken no laws but have kept them. We have sought to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, and for this we suffer.” He talked at some length like a father to his children, which showed the great and noble heart that beat in his bosom. This council was meant to nerve up the brothers for the ordeal they were about to pass through, for it seemed we were about to be swallowed up by this mighty host, as now they had these pure and innocent prisoners in their camp, and they were sentenced to be shot without judge or jury. That night as I lay sick in my bed, I could hear their martial band playing in exultation, and it seemed as though all the infuriated demons of the lower regions were reveling in their atrocities and were triumphing because they thought they were going to kill our leaders and so put an end to Mormonism. But weak man cannot measure arms with the Almighty. How true was the poet when he said that “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform,” for when morning came, and they were about to put their decision into execution, all at once there arose a revolt in the camp. A spirit more noble than the rest, General Doniphan, called his men together and told them to form in a line and march. He said that he would have nothing to do with such cold-blooded murder and that he washed his hands of it. This insurrection broke up their plans, and they made other plans to drag our leaders off to prison to lay for months in a cold dungeon with food not fit for hogs to eat and of which they could not partake. They brought them into Far West and permitted them to take leave of their families and their aged father and mother. With their little ones crying and clinging to them, the scene was enough to melt the heart of a stone, but they were hurried off to prison to languish through the cold winter. Death would have been preferable but their work on this earth was not done.
Well, they had secured the brothers for the present, at least, and now what was to be done with the rest. Well, the soldiers came marching into the city with General Clark at their head to take the city. He gave his orders at the point of a bayonet. The brothers had to deliver up their arms and sign away their property to ray the expenses of the war and listen to the speech of Mr. Clark. He said we need never expect to see our leaders again for their fate was fixed and their doom sealed. We were to be expelled from the state, and although we could stay until spring we were not to attempt to put in another crop. He said he had the power to give us this privilege. Was this not wonderful? It was a great boon for free-born American citizens that had been true and law-abiding in every way. But there was not an alternative. Leave we must; we must try to find a place somewhere in the wide world.
Well, to return to my own situation. I had my door open and looked out upon the scene as the army marched into the city. As I lay in my bed sick, I thought the end of them would never come. They stationed one company near my house and there camped. I was alone except for my little children. My husband had to leave, for all those who were in the Crooked River battle were being hunted for by the soldiers. So I was at their mercy. Still they assured me that I would not be molested. However, they searched the premises and put a double guard around my house. So I was a prisoner in my own home with no one to care for me but my little boy. Everyone had all he could do to look out for his own. It was a trying time indeed! The brethren that were in the battle of Crooked River had all left for parts unknown except my husband and Brother Holbrook. Brother Holbrook had been wounded in the fight, but he played he was a sick woman in bed so nicely that he was not detected although the house was searched well. My husband had, by a narrow escape, managed to evade the soldiers and was still hidden in the city.
When the General had everything fixed and had our people tied in every way, he called off the army and told them to go to their homes, but to hold themselves in readiness if they should be called again in case the Mormons did not comply with all the requirements asked. So they dispersed. Now there was nothing to do but go to work and prepare to leave after sacrificing everything. I had my last shake of the ague and fever which lasted two hours. After that I began to get better, but while the attack lasted it was severe. I thought that every bone in my body would come out. I was so thankful when it was over.
We soon moved back to our farm where wood was plentiful for the winter, but the Missourians, were prowling around. So we moved in with a neighbor close by and made what preparations we could in our poverty for our exit in the spring. During the winter, Brother Joseph sent messages to the brethren to make every exertion to roll out as fast as they could, for he said that there would be no chance for him until we were all one.
Winter passed and spring came but with wet, stormy weather. However, the Saints left as fast as they could, going east. We started in March, about the middle, I think. Imagine our feelings in leaving our homes and starting out not knowing where we were going and leaving our Prophet and leaders in prison at the mercy of those bold fiends of human shape. Notwithstanding, our afflictions, the hand of the Lord was over His people, and they found a place of rest for the season.
As I said, we took tip our march towards the rising sun. It stormed coinually. Our outfit for the journey was a meager one. It consisted of one horse attached to the two wheels of a wagon with bed sheets for a cover. The box was seven feet long; so sometimes at night we could make a bed in the cart by taking things out. But we would make our bed outside when the weather would permit. It was tedious traveling. When we got on the Mississippi bottom, it was terrible. It was 9 miles across and took two days to cross. At last we landed in Quincy, Illinois, and found the people very hospitable. They seemed willing to do all they could to alleviate the condition of the Saints. We traveled on up the river about 40 miles and stopped to see what we should do. This was in Adams County. There, five families of us, 3 families named Tippets and Gustavus Perry and ourselves stopped. We found some empty cabins which the owner let us go into. The place was sparsely settled, but we were glad to get shelter. It was 7 miles to the little town where there was a store and other public buildings. The Saints in general traveled on up the river, but we stayed here one year and raised corn, turnips, and other garden stuffs. Brother John Tippet’s wife died here in child birth. Her babe also died, which cast a gloom over us. She was a good woman, and we sadly missed her. I suppose her grave is still alone and unmarked to this day.
In the spring following, we made another move north. Our horse having died, Brother Tippet loaned us one to go on with. The Saints had located a place to settle still farther up the river called Commerce. It was a very sickly place, but the only one we had to go to. When we got up there, low and behold! there was Brother Joseph in the midst of the Saints. I will not attempt to describe his miraculous escape from prison, suffice it to say he got safely to his family and the bosom of the Saints. So Mr. Clark was greatly mistaken when he said we should never see Brother Joseph again. The Lord worked out the deliverance after the Saints had all left the state.
Well, here we were again to start anew to make another home with nothing but our hands and brains to begin with. We were not conquered in spirit but determined to live our religion and stand by the principles of the Gospel and help to build up the kingdom of God on the earth. The people of Illinois seemed willing to give us a resting place. It was really a beautiful place to build up a city with the grand Mississippi rolling down past her steam boats plying up and down. It was sublime! They called the city Nauvoo, the beautiful.
We got a city lot just below the brow of the hill where the Temple was to be built. We built us a good log house, fenced in the lot. One full acre had a picket fence in front of it, and it began to look like really living again, although we had to live very close, both for food and clothes.
My fourth son was born in this house on the 22nd of June, but he was a sickly child and died when he was twenty months old. It was a hard place to raise children for a great many died of summer complaint when teething.
We lived in this house about two years and then sold the place to Brother Wilford Woodruff. We got another lot farther west on another block and this time built a frame house with two good sized rooms. After we moved into it, I took up a scfor three months and so passed the summer.
The work on the [Nauvoo] temple was progressing, Elders were being sent out to the nations to preach the Gospel, emigrants from different parts flocked in, and everything prospered. About this time the Relief Society was organized with Emma Smith, president, with two counselors, and Eliza R. Snow, secretary. This was for the relief of the poor and for every noble purpose that came within woman’s sphere of action. I united with this society. There was much valuable instruction given in these meetings. Sometimes Emma would bring the prophet in to give instructions. One in particular, I remember, he opened the meeting by prayer. He was so full of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost that his frame shook and his face shone and looked almost transparent. This was about the time that the order of the Celestial marriage was given by revelation to him. He had taught it to a few who would hear it, but I heard him say at one time when he was preaching (turning to those that sat behind him), “If I should reveal to these, my Brethren, who now seem to be my bosom friends, what God has revealed to me, they would be the first to seek my life.” And it was so. Even when this law of Celestial marriage was taught, these very men, William Marks, the Laws, and others, turned vipers against him.
The clouds had begun to gather. It was not all sunshine now in Nauvoo. The opposing element was at work. The prophet was harassed with false brethren and apostates trying to prefer charges against him and bring him before the courts, but they could not prove anything against him. And for what reason was this tirade against him? It was because he was a prophet of the living God and because he had chosen to lay the foundation of the kingdom of God on the earth in this last dispensation. This has been the case in every age of the world when there has been a prophet to lead the people of God. They have been persecuted in like manner, and this is still another testimony of the divinity of this work.
Again I turn to our temporal affairs. Again we had a chance to sell and better our conditions. An old couple came from the east and wanted a home. We sold this home of ours to them for $225. Then my husband went up on the hill near the temple and bought a small lot and built another house with three rooms and a basement and with a brick fire place and an old fashioned brick oven by the side of it. This was a beautiful location; front in east was the public square and to the south just one lot and a street separated us from the temple. Here we hoped would be our permanent home. My husband did his own carpenter work and also helped to work on the temple. Out of my bedroom window I could see the masons at work and could hear the click of their hammers and hear their sailor songs as they pulled the rock in place with pulleys. It was grand to see. Notwithstanding, trouble was brewing and work on the temple was being pushed ahead.
One day I looked over toward the temple and saw a large crowd gathered with some two or three women present; so I thought I would over. I put on my bonnet and shawl and made my way over. Brother Joseph was there and seemed busily engaged over something. Finally, he looked up and saw us women. He said for the brothers to stand back and let the sisters come up. So they gave way, and we went up. In the huge chorner stone was cut out a square about a foot around and about as deep lined with zinc, and in it Brother Joseph had placed a Bible, a Book of Mormon, hymn book, and other church works along with silver money that had been coined in that year. Then a lid was cemented down, and the temple was reared on the top of this. It made me think of the prophets in ancient days hiding up their records to come forth in some future generation. At any rate, it was for some wise purpose, but I never heard any explanation on it. The building progressed rapidly, and I was present when the cap stone was laid and heard the last ring of the trowel. The Saints turned out enmass. The address on that occasion was pathetic and grand, being delivered by Brigham Young.
There was much to contend with during the raising of that house for the evil one was stirring up the hearts of the people for he knew blessing would be poured out upon the Saints in that house. However, the Lord held the enemy at bay for the present.
Previous to this, Brother Joseph had written his views on the powers and policy of the government. It was printed and came out in pamphlet form. The Elders that were sent out on missions were counseled to take this work with them and present it to the world.
My husband had been in the employ of Amos Davis, a merchant in Nauvoo, for one year, and I had been teaching school. At this time, my husband was one who was chosen to go and preach the Gospel and also produce this pamphlet wherever he went. He was to go the state of New York. Consequently, he would go and visit his birth place. I got an idea that I would like to go with him and see my relatives. I had been away about ten years, and I had now four children. It seemed quite an undertaking, but I felt equal to the task; so my husband asked counsel of Brother Joseph. He told him to take me along, and I would prove a blessing to him. Therefore, we prepared to go; my husband went to Mr. Davis and got his wages, and besides, Mr. Davis made him a present of a nice suit of clothes, a hat, and fine boots and gave to me a dress pattern.
When we were ready, we went down to the landing. There were quite a number of elders going. Brother Joseph and Hyrum were at the landing to see the brethren off. The Church owned the steamboat. Her name was “Osprey,” and we were going as far as St. Louis on her; then we were to take a larger boat, the “Robert Fulton,” from St. Louis to the mouth of the Ohio river and up that river to Pittsburgh. But when we got to this river, we got in shallow water and ran aground. They could not move her, and so we had to wait until another boat came along and took us off. This one was called the “Clipper.” We could step right off the “Fulton’s” lower deck onto the “Clipper’s” upper deck, as she was so close along side and was a smaller boat.
From this point, we went to Louisville, where we had to go through the locks for there was great fall in the river. From there, we went on up to Pittsburgh and thence by sail and canal until we came to Buffalo. Then we went down Lake Ontario to Sackets Harbor, and we were now within 16 miles within Father Tracy’s and 10 miles from Samuel Mattison’s, my husband’s brother-in-law. I stayed at the hotel, and he walked to his brother-in-law’s got him to go and bring us to his house. We stayed that night with them, and he took us next day to father’s where we received a cordial greeting. It had been 3 weeks now since we left Nauvoo. We were tired and had to have a rest. We visited for a while and then father Tracy took us to Polaski, about 15 miles away, to see my mother and sister, and also my brother Eli. My brother Albert was in Canada teaching school and was a Methodist minister. When he heard we were there, he dismissed his school for a few days and came over to see us. We taught him the Gospel, but he was satisfied with his religion and would not listen to the message we had to bear. At last he went back, and it was the last time I ever saw him although we corresponded with each other. He is now in Missouri and has a family.
We ended our visit for this time with my relatives, not forgetting to preach to them the Gospel and give them Joseph’s views on the policy of the government. We then returned to Ellisburg, my husband to start out on his mission. When we got back, we received the heart rending news that our prophet was slain in Carthage jail. We were horror stricken. My husband sobbed aloud, “Is it true? Can it be true, when so short a time ago he set us apart to fill this mission and was all right?”
The story of how they came to their death has oft been told. Joseph and his brother Hyrum had had the faith of the state pledged to them that they would be protected if they would give themselves up to be tried, but it was concocted beforehand to murder these innocent men. They knew they could prove nothing against them, and so they resorted to strategy to take their lives, thinking they would put an end to Mormonism. But the day of reckoning will come when vengeance will be taken. The Lord says to leave it with him, that he will repay. His plans are not to be frustrated by the puny arm of man.
Well, this, of course, cast a dark gloomy shadow over Nauvoo and all the Saints near and far, for they loved the Prophet of God. But Mormonism was not dead. Neither was it going to die. The Lord could raise up another to build on the foundation that was already laid. These wicked men did not comprehend the predictions of the ancient prophets that in the last days God would set up His kingdom, no more to be thrown down or given to another people.
My husband continued in his mission during the summer and fall. He baptized two and bore faithful testimonies wherever he went. In the winter months he stayed at his father’s and labored in the branch that remained in Elisburg. He belonged to the Seventies’ quorum and had authority to make some things right that were not altogether in order in the branch.
Winter passed. Many of the twelve and other elders that were not on missions were called home.
In the spring, we made preparations to go back to Nauvoo. We bore faithful testimonies to those of our friends who had not obeyed the Gospel, bid them farewell, and then father took us to Oswego and there we took steamboat up to Lake Ontario. We stopped to view Niagara Falls, which was a grand sight. Our route home was the same as when we went. When we got ttsburgh, we went on board a river steamboat named “Sarah Ann.” It was an old boat. When we got to Louisville, they chose to go over the rapids instead of through the locks. It was very risky, as the boat was so old. The shore was lined with people watching. Everything was so quiet on the boat you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone held his breath until she got safely over; then there were cheers from the shore and wavings of hats and handkerchiefs. The boat steamed on until we got to the mouth of the Ohio river. Then we came out onto the grand old Mississippi. We were now 500 miles below Nauvoo. The time seemed long, we were so anxious to get home to the city of the Saints.
We arrived on Sabbath morning, but oh how lonely and quiet everything seemed.
When we were in Louisville, I had left the boat as she lay at the wharf and had gone into a store and purchased some things, among which were a nice bonnet and veil. I could not get at my trunk, and so I tied them up in a large handkerchief and hung them up on a hook in the roof of the boat. When we got to the Nauvoo landing, I forgot all about them in our hurry and they went on with the boat end I never saw them again.
Our house had been rented while we were away. As soon as we arrived, we went right home and prepared to go to meeting for that day was appointed for us to choose a first presidency to lead the Church. The saints convened in a grove. Sidney Rigdon and his followers were on hand to contest their right to be the leaders of the Saints. At one time he was one of Brother Joseph’s counselors, but he was not righteous, and Joseph shook him off saying that he had carried him long enough and he would carry him no longer. Therefore, it was out of the question to have such a man lead the people.
Brigham Young was the man chosen and sustained by unanimous vote to be the mouthpiece of God to the Saints. I can testify that the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham that day as that of Elijah did fall upon Elisha, for it seemed that his voice, his gestures, and all were Joseph. It seemed that we had him again with us. He was sustained by the voice of the people to be the prophet, seer, and revelator.
Soon after this, my youngest child was taken sick and died in two weeks. His name was Theodore Franklin and he was two years and two months old. Now I had two little boys laid side by side in the burying ground, their little graves the same size.
Well, the Temple was so far completed that fall that the Lord accepted it at the hands of the Saints, and it was dedicated. The Saints began to receive their blessings. Therein we had our endowments in that house.
The evil one saw that the Saints were getting power from on high. Of course, he raged and stirred up the feeling of enmity against us, and the people again determined to drive us from our homes. So during the winter months preparations were made and some had already left their comfortable homes and crossed the river on the ice to go into the wilderness beyond civilization w not where only as the hand of the Lord shall lead us. O liberty! thou precious boon that our Fathers shed their blood to gain, whither hast thou fled? But the hand of the Lord is over us, and so we shall find a resting place.
On the 15th of March, 1845, my sixth son was born.
About the last of May, previous to our departure from Nauvoo, I was aroused from my slumbers on night, hearing such heavenly music as I had never heard before. Everything was so still and quiet when it burst upon my ear that I could not imagine where it came from. I got up and looked out of the window. The moon shone bright as I looked over at the [Nauvoo] Temple from whence the sound came. There on the roof of the building heavenly bands of music had congregated and were playing most beautifully. The music was exquisite! And we had to leave all this; the Temple, our homes, and the pleasant surroundings and bid farewell. It was to your tents, O Israel.
At another time, fire caught in the roof of the Temple. How it caught, I never knew, but for awhile it seemed that the house would be destroyed. Men, women, and children came out and formed a bucket brigade. The wells were drained and finally they went with wagons and barrels to the river for water and at last succeeded in putting out the flames. The damage was considerable. It seemed that if the evil powers could not harass the people one way, they would do it in another.
But now the time had come for us to take up the line and march, this time far away to the west where white man’s foot had never trod. We were going to find a resting place among the red men of the forest. Our journey had been delayed some time on account of my confinement, but as soon as I was able to travel we started out. So farewell to beautiful Nauvoo. May the Lord have mercy on our enemies’ souls for their cruelty and wickedness to an innocent and law abiding people. But we are to be a tried people and to be made perfect through suffering. We took with us what effects we could with one strong yoke of cattle. We crossed the river, went over the bluffs, and camped until a company got together so it would be safe to travel. The companies were small. For the present, nothing occurred. The travel was slow. I think there were about ten families of us. We had not as yet an organized camp, but we went on until we neared Council Bluffs and camped one afternoon on what was called Mosquito Creek. Our second son, eleven years old, took his fish hook and line as he always did when we camped on a stream and went to the creek. He caught quite a string of fish and came up to the wagon and gave them to his older brother. Then he came to me and said, “Oh, mother, my head aches so it seems all on fire.” It was about the middle of July and whether it was a sun stroke or brain fever, we could not tell. Of course, we could not travel on. We did everything we could under the circumstances, but he died on the third of August. This was indeed a trying ordeal to have to bury our dear boy here in the wilderness. There were four families who stayed with us. It was night when the boy died, and we were alone in the wagon except my husband’s cousin, Orlin Colvin. I happened to have some fine bleached cloth, and I made his clothes and dressed him. Brother Blodget took the side boards of our wagon and made him a decent coffin. We had funeral services, and he was laid in the silent grave on a little hill nfrom where he caught his last fish. There was one other little grave there where someone had buried a child but the grave was not marked.
We were ten miles from the Missouri river and where the Pottawattamie Indians with some French and half breeds and some Indian traders lived. This was the time when Uncle Sam followed us up to get 500 able-bodied men from the Mormon camps to go and help to fight Mexico. How was this when and after they could not let us have a place amongst them and we were already on the march for the wilderness. Did not this look like they were determined to follow us and harass us to demand all the able-bodied men and thus leave aged and feeble men, women, and children to travel through an Indian country unprotected. Who ever heard of such a thing? But our brethren complied with this demand and the 500 volunteered and went, leaving their wives and little ones to travel on as best they could.
We now came to the conclusion to stay here at Council Bluffs until the next spring; so a few families of us built log cabins and prepared for winter. That fall there were many families that had made a late start stopped here for the winter. They built little cabins and finally a log schoolhouse and opened a school and held meetings there. There were at last about 35 or 40 families stopped here for the winter. The place named Carterville because there were so many families by that name there. There was another stopping place three miles farther on called Kanesville where the Saints that were late stopped for the winter and built up quite a place. They had a store, etc.
Still farther on, there was another place called Winter Quarters. In fact, the Saints had to stop all along to recruit. Of course, it was hard times and much sickness and suffering prevailed, especially at Winter Quarters. In the early part of winter, my husband’s old employer, Amos Davis, came along through our settlement with a load of goods from his store in Nauvoo. He stopped with us for a day. When he left, he gave us some tea, sugar, and coffee, which was highly appreciated and was a luxury in those hard times. So, taking it all together, we got along very well. Wood was plentiful and also good water. We rested and took comfort in our religion. We were not conquered.
Well, the winter passed on, and what were we going? Should we take up the march? No, this was decided against this spring. We stayed and put in a crop and got better fitted out for that long journey, for now we knew that we were going to the Rocky Mountains, a long way off, and we must have better outfits to take us there. Others did the same and stayed over for a year or two that they might better their condition. But little did we think when we stopped here with our sick boy that we should prolong our stay as we did, but the hand of the Lord is over his people.
Tracy, Nancy N. A., 1816- Autobiography (1816-1880) Source: Narrative by Nancy N. Tracy, holograph, Bancroft Library.
NARRATIVE BY MRS. N. N. TRACY
Mr. Bancroft, Sir: I sent you a short sketch of my history by request of Mrs. Jane Richards of Ogden City. I have been associated with the Mormon Churc years [and] consequently have had considerable experience and what I write will be in truth and simplicity and is at your disposal. With respect I subscribe myself, N. N. Tracy.
A brief narrative of the life of Nancy N. A. Tracy, daughter of Aaron Alexander and Betsey Jones Alexander. I was born May 14, 1816, in the town of Henderson, Jefferson County, state of New York. My father died when I was four years old. There were four of us, two sons and two daughters. My mother lost the property my father left her by unprincipled men and she could not keep her children and support them and the three oldest were put out to the care of others. My Grandmother Jones took me home with her to Herkimer County, 100 miles from my mother, where I lived until I was 15 years old.
I was put in school and cared for very kindly and trained to believe in the Methodist discipline by my grandmother although my mother was a Baptist. My uncle and aunt were Presbyterians and would often persuade me to go to their church. I thought this very strange young as I was for I used to read in the Bible a great deal about the Savior and the apostles’ teachings and I thought it was very different from what these different denominations thought, especially their baptism and they had none of the gifts in their churches, no apostles and prophets. As I grew older I thought of all this, so I would not unite with any. Still I thought the Methodists the best of any.
When I was 15, my mother came and stayed at grandfathers all winter with me and the spring that I was 16, she went home and I went with her, where she again placed me in school. When this school closed, the opportunity was given me to teach, but I declined the offer. I thought it was too much of an undertaking as I was not yet 17 years old.
I was married to Moses Tracy and as I thought settled down for life, my husband’s occupation being that of a farmer, but I did not know what was in the future for me.
At length it began to be rumored around about a prophet called Joseph Smith and that he had found ancient records in the Hill Cumorah shown to him by an angel, and he had translated the hieroglyphics into the English language. The press and the pulpit were aroused and all sorts of stories were told about the gold digger, Joseph Smith. After a while there came one of their preachers into our town, Ellisburgh, Jefferson County, and appointed a meeting and out of curiosity, I went to hear him and my curiosity was soon satisfied for once and the first time in my life I heard the true gospel as it was recorded in holy writ and I was ready to embrace it, but waited for my husband to investigate. I knew he had an honest heart and I wanted him to go and hear for himself and so he did and was satisfied and on the 10th of May, 1834, we were baptized into the Mormon Church.
Soon after, many more were baptized and there was a branch of this Church established in the town and the gifts of the gospel were given to those that believed. The sick were healed in our midst and I will relate one circumstance. Emily Fuller, a young lady living in the town, was takensick, nigh unto death. At last she went into convulsions and was in this state 24 hours. Nothing that we could do for her relieved her. At last an elder of the Church was sent for who was ten miles away. He came about sundown. He repaired to a room alone, knelt down and prayed fervently for faith and strength in God that he might have power to rebuke the destroyer and when he came to her bedside, he laid his hands upon her head and commanded her in the name of Jesus Christ to be made whole and arise from her bed. This she did, washed herself and combed her hair. She said she felt very weak but was well. She felt to praise God. This I can testify is true and many other like circumstances of the healing power.
Well in the spring of 1835, we conceived the idea of moving to Ohio, town of Kirtland, Geauga County, where the Prophet with quite a number of the Mormons had settled and had commenced to build a temple. This move was making my connections feel worse than ever. I had been a favorite amongst all my relatives and they took it very hard. They said I was disgracing myself and them too by being drawn away with such delusion. But I felt very happy and was satisfied with my religion. I told them I had long sought for the gospel of Christ and had found it and we started out to go to Ohio by land, had a pleasant journey and not knowing anything about camping out, we put up at a hotel every night but two.
We were eleven days in traveling 400 miles. Got to Kirtland on Saturday and on Sunday went to meeting inside the walls of the temple, for the roof had just been put on the walls. Here we saw Joseph Smith for the first time and to look upon him would be enough to convince anyone that he was inspired of God without even to hear him speak. We had not been here long until we made his acquaintance, had dealt with him in money matters and found him to be a man honest and upright in the strictest sense of the word, and more a prophet of the living God in very deed.
The [Kirtland] temple was finished and dedicated in the spring of 1836, and I can say in truth that I never before witnessed and realized such sweet and heavenly communion with the Holy Ghost as on this occasion. The elders received their blessings preparatory to going to the nations of the earth to bear the glad tidings of salvation and my husband went back to his native land to once more bear his testimony to the truth of the gospel, for we were going to go up to the state of Missouri after his return, and as we had loaned money to Joseph Smith, my husband after his return went to him and asked if it was best for us to make this journey to Missouri, and said to him if we did go, we should need the money. His reply was, “It is right and this will of the Lord for you to go and you shall have the money.”
Consequently we made arrangements to go there, where some three or four hundred Mormons had already gathered in Missouri. So we fitted up our wagon with one yoke of cattle. Ourselves, two children, Dimick Huntington, his wife, and three children started out in one wagon, two other families going in company, Ezra T. Parish and William Corey. We went along nicely until we got into the state of Missouri when we began to have trouble. One of Mr. Corey’s oxen dropped dead on a high bridge. My little boy took sick. Corey’s family took sick, one of his children died and was buried in the woods, and Mr. Corey died. His wife and five children were all down and not able to see him buried.
Our means were getting low and we had to stop traveling and take care of the sick, but when those that survived sufficiently recovered, we again resumed our journey, determined to reach our destination before winter set in, which was fast approaching, the distance now being 100 miles to Far West, Caldwell County, where we arrived late in November . My husband threw up a rude log cabin without any floor to shelter us and started out into Clay County to work for provisions for we were entirely out. All he could get was corn and meat for this was the kind of food that the Missouri people subsisted upon at this time.
The Mormons previous to our arrival had met with a great deal of persecution. They had left Jackson and Clay Counties and come into Caldwell County because of the hostilities of the Missourians and were in reduced circumstance on this account. For three years then we were left in peace and began to prosper and paid the government for our lands, attended to our own business, were strict on obeying the laws of the land but dared to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, which the Constitution guaranteed to all, black or white. But it was for this we were persecuted and it was with us as it has been in all ages of the world when the church of Christ was upon the earth. Thus it will be seen that we were not left in quiet very long. The Missourians collected in mobs, blackened up in the outside settlements, committing depredations, insulting and abusing females and all this sort of thing.
They came to Crooked River where there was a scattered settlement and were behaving in a bad manner doing a great deal of damage when the word came to Far West. A company was sent to disperse them. There was a large force of this mob and they had their guards stationed around the settlement and as the company was marching down towards them, they fired upon the Mormons and killed a young man. It was not yet daylight in the morning when the Mormons came upon them. A battle ensued and the captain of the company was wounded and soon died. His name was David W. Patten. He was the first Mormon elder I heard preach, and was one of the Twelve Apostles. There were others wounded. My husband was in this battle, and now because our people had tried for once to stand in self defense, the governor had the militia ordered out some thousands against a few hundred law-abiding citizens.
They came against Far West, took the city, took the prophet with several others into their camp, and were going to shoot them down, but an insurrection arose in their camp and this was prevented but they were hurled off to prison where they lay for six months and fed on the most loathsome food. While these men were started off to their prisons, the men in Far West had to give up their arms and sign over their properties to defray the expenses of the war. They abused women and children, destroyed the crops, killed beef and made a general havoc.
One, [Samuel] Bogart’s company, was camped near my house and they searched my house for my husband and weapons, but they got neither. But they placed a double guard at my door and window so there was nong out or coming in without their leave. All this time I was sick in bed, a child three weeks old, and shaking with the ague by day and burning with fever at night, with no one to care for me but my little boy five years old. I had nothing for my comfort. My house was outside the breastwork that had been thrown up and at last these fiends in human shape consented to let me be taken inside to Brother Woods. I shook for two hours that day and I think my fright broke my fever, for it left me and I gradually recovered. I will not try to describe the cruelty and wickedness of these troops. It seemed they thirsted for human blood and they now thought they had put an end to Mormonism.
General Clark said in his speech on the public square [at Far West] that we had to leave the state forthwith and as for our leaders, we need never expect to see them again for their doom was sealed. But it will be seen he made a great mistake. He did not know that the kingdom of God was set up never more to be thrown down. Although they might persecute and mar the Saints of God and drive them from place to place and from state to state, God would deliver his people for he was at the helm.
I will now pass over events of hardships and the sufferings of the people. It can be known they were very great. As for my family, all my husband could do was to make a cart out of two wheels of an old wagon and one horse to draw it, with a bed sheet for a cover and what little effects we could put in it and start out the first of March with our three little children, it storming incessantly, to find a resting place in Illinois and amongst civilization. We traveled on until we came to the Mississippi bottom. It was three miles across the river bottom. We were five days in crossing it through mud and water. I had to wade and carry my child six months old and gather brush at night to make my bed upon for our cart was not large enough to sleep in and when it stormed, which it did nearly all the time, we had to take it as best we could.
Well, we crossed the river at Quincy and traveled up the river, stopped one year near Payson, Illinois, and then came to Nauvoo. By this time the Saints had built up a thrifty town and were doing well with the blessings of God and our hearts were made to rejoice that we could rest in peace for a while at any rate, but it had been and still was very sickly and the exposures that we had encountered prostrated a great many, but in many cases the healing power was made manifest.
The Prophet Joseph had forsaken the prison world in Missouri where he was fed on the most loathsome food for six months and for what? He had broken no law of the land, but the God of heaven had communicated to him by the ministration of angels and by his own voice that he was about to establish his kingdom upon the earth and he had been made an instrument in the hands of God to lay the foundation of this kingdom never more to be thrown down.
Well, as I said, he was again in our midst and he went forth from house to house administering to the sick and many arose from their sick beds and thus his fatherly and loving care was over the people again after all his suffering in prison.
For eight years the Saints were prospered in the beautiful city Nauvoo and built another temple. It was finished and accepted of God and the Latter-day Saints went forth and received their blessings therein. But before it was completed, from time to time Joseph was sought after and they tried to get something against him so they could convict him and imprison him or do something with him. I do not think they knew what they wanted to do, but it was with him as it ever had been with the prophets and apostles in other ages of the world, and at last he gave himself up to be taken to Carthage Jail with the faith of the state of Illinois pledged for his protection, but alas, himself and Brother Hyrum were shot down by a blackened mob. After the troops had withdrawn there fell two of the noblest and truest men that had walked the earth since the day of Christ and the apostles. This atrocious deed was committed June 27, 1844.
In this year my husband went to the state of New York on a mission with Joseph Smith’s views on the powers and policy of the government. I wanted to go with him to see my mother and relatives. Consequently he was advised to take me with him by Hyrum Smith, the patriarch previous to the martyrdom of the prophet and patriarch, but when we returned to Nauvoo, behold it was in mourning for these two great and good men. There was no more rest for us in Nauvoo. Again we were destined to become exiles.
Brigham Young now became the president of the Church and the departed spirit of Joseph rested down upon him insomuch that all felt as though it was Joseph himself in their midst and he began to plan for the people to leave Nauvoo to seek an asylum far away in the west where we could worship God and none to molest for we could not dwell here in peace any longer. The same spirit that was in the hearts of the Missourians was not predominant in Illinois. Brigham Young stood firm in the midst of house burning and plundering and all kinds of persecutions preparing for the removal of this body of people, for the Church was increasing in number continually. They had now taken up the line of march across the Mississippi River moving and camping a few miles west of the river and thus commenced the toilsome journey that lay before us.
There were two recruiting places, namely, Garden Grove and Pisgah before reaching Council Bluffs on the Missouri River. We crossed over the river and made Winter Quarters where since it is called Florence in Nebraska. And from this point, Brigham Young started out with 142 men to pioneer the way and find a location where the Saints could build and inhabit in peace. Previous to this, while we were on the east side of the river, he [Brigham Young] was requested by the government for they had followed us up and wanted 500 of the able bodied men to go and help fight the Mexicans. This request was complied with, the men leaving their families by the wayside. Here again was another testimony of the loyalty of the Mormons. Well, to return, these pioneers crossed the dreary plains, came to Salt lake Valley, where all was a barren waste, nothing lived or could subsist here, but roving bands of Indians that lived on crickets and berries in the mountains. After they had found this valley which was on the 24th day of July, 1847, they laid out a city and some of them with Brigham Young went back to Winter Quarters after their families, meeting nearly 2,000 Saints on their way to Salt Lake.
Salt Lake Valley was a barren desert when the Mormons came here to reign. Everything was parched and dry. There were streams of water that came rolling down from the mountains and from these streams, canals and water sects were taken out for the purpose of irrigation and the seed was put in the ground, trusting in God for a harvest. The fields soon began to show the hand of industry with God’s blessing, although the crickets and grasshoppers made havoc for a while, but were driven back to the mountains and the seagulls swallowed them up until finally they were conquered and the valley soon became a fruitful land and the desert made to blossom as the rose.
Emigration from all parts came pouring into the valley and in a few years, every piece of land that could be cultivated was made to yield rich harvests by the hand of toil and industry. Fine orchards and beautiful dwellings, houses of worship and educational institutions were everywhere to be seen and I can truly say the people enjoyed and appreciated their blessings after being delivered from the hand of oppression and persecution, and thus we had a reign of peace and prosperity for a few years. Thousands of emigrants passed through bound for California and exchanged clothing for flour and supplies for the remainder of their journey, which was convenient both for them and us for clothing was then hard for us to get and food we had plenty. And so we as well as them were provided for and a blessing to both parties.
There was a camp of emigrants who took a southern route and passed through a place called the mountain meadow. They played foul tricks upon the Indians. They in turn according to their savage natures, turned upon the emigrants and massacred men, women and children. And this horrible deed was blamed to Brigham Young, but he was as innocent as a child unborn. It was not in his nature to be the instigator of such an atrocious act. He was kind and fatherly and desired to see all made happy. This has been carried out to a great length trying to palm it upon the Mormons and their leader to try and get something to break us up again.
But this did not work as well as expected but the government could not possibly let us alone. The people were prospering. Their flocks and herds were becoming immense. Their beautiful cities and surroundings were coveted and so there were several thousand troops sent here. Colonel Johnston was their leader. Well, they came to set things to rights, but our people knew they were strictly obedient to the laws of the land as they ever had been and they intended to keep the laws of God also, and in doing this they had no need to break the law of the land but before these troops should come in and drive the inhabitants again from the homes and feast upon the hard-earned substance and inhabit the dwellings of the Saints, they would have found it laid in ashes and as barren as it was when the Mormons first came here. But they were kept at bay until all moved south except those that were left to accomplish this if needs be, but at last a compromise was made.
The troops came in and passed through the city of Salt Lake to quarters assigned them and peace again was restored and word came that we could go home again. This was good news for me for my husband’s health had been failing fome time in consequence of hardship and exposure. He had been sick ever since we had started to go south. He had now had the third paralytic stroke and to use his own expression, he said if he could only live to get his family home again, he would be satisfied to die.
During all this journey, my 14-year-old son had to take the charge of everything. We got home in Ogden City on the 4th day of July and my husband died on the 25th of August following, 1858. He now sleeps in the Ogden Cemetery. He was an honest, upright man and died in full faith of all the principles of our most holy religion and was a firm believer in the celestial or plural order of marriage which had been revealed from God to Joseph Smith as a pure and holy principle. But to many it comes so in contrast with tradition and the views and opinion of the pious in this age of the world that it is thought to be an unpardonable sin for a man to have more than one wife. But when God speaks and commands, who shall we obey, him or man? I prefer the former. I have lived in this order of plural marriage, have had one daughter born in polygamy that is now an honorable wife and mother, and it is a pure principle and saving in its nature, and all that are conversant with the Bible must know that the ancient patriarchs and prophets had more wives than one, but God is the same. If he revoked this command because of the wickedness of the people, it is no sign but what he can command again.
How much more honorable it is for a man to marry two or three wives, support and care for them, nourish and cherish them, raise up lawful children, feed and clothe and educate them and prepare them for usefulness in life. I say how far superior to the sin and corruption of those who seek to destroy the life of the infant before it is born and after because their deeds have been evil. We’ll let God rule and command and all say amen and they will eventually triumph. The Saints have been commanded to build temples whereby they can go forth and redeem those that have died in ages past without the knowledge of the gospel by performing the ordinances of the gospel for them and acting in their stead. This may seem strange but this also is enjoined upon us and can be substantiated from the Bible, as well as all the principles of the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ which we most firmly believe and hold sacred and as a sweet fountain, cannot send forth bitter water, even so if one principle of the revealed will of God to man is true, so all are true and the law and the prophets will all be fulfilled and this work of the gathering and preparing for the second advent of the Messiah was spoken of by the ancient prophets and even told how we were to know when that time drew near and all that is conversant with the scriptures and read with an understanding heart can know that this great event is near at hand by the signs of the times. And there has got to be a great work done and the people prepared to meet him and a holy place for him to come to.
It seems as though anyone that reads the history of the Mormon Church from the beginning and looks for once at the progress of this church in the midst of opposition and persecution, yet it has and will roll steadily on. I say this is enough to convince anyone that God is at the helm and if the Saints will keep his laws, they will be the instruments to bear off his kingdom.
Brigham Young as is well known, has passed away like a shock of corn fully ripe. His life had been rich with goodness. He rests from his labors. John Taylor is his successor, a man of years, but clothed with the spirit of God and a man that has been proven that he was willing to lay down his life for his brother, for he went to Carthage Jail with Joseph Smith and stood by him till the last and was wounded by the same mob that killed Joseph and Hyrum and the scriptures say, greater love hath no man than him that would lay down his life for his brother.
Now I shall make an end of my writing. What I have written is in part events in my own history, connected with the travels and history of the Church, and a portion of my own testimony and what I have written is true. I am not a scribe and no doubt have not connected sentences properly. For this I beg pardon.
I would say that I am now 64 years old and I have lived in this Church 46 of those years and am sure that eternal life will be my reward if I am firm to the end.