Nathan T. Porter (1820-1897)

Autobiography of Nathan T. Porter

Published by Porter Family Organization, Feb. 25, 2000.
Copyright © 2000


Born: July 10, 1820 Father: Sanford Porter Mother: Nancy Warriner Birthplace: Corinth, Orange County, Vermont. I Nathan Tanner Porter, was born on the 10 of July 1820 in the State of Vermont, Orange County , Town of Corinth. My father Sanford Porter, who was the son of Nathan Porter, who was the son of Timothy Porter, was born in the State Massachusetts, Brimfield Township, March 7th 1790. When about four years of age Sanford’s father, Nathan Porter, moved with his family, consisting of Sanford’s mother Susannah, whose maiden name was West, daughter of Thomas West, a Baptist minister, Sanford’s elder brother and two sisters, Joseph, Susannah and Sally, to the State of Vermont, Orange County, Vershire Township, Here Sanford remained laboring for the benefit of the family, most of the time in farming, until 21 years of age.


Sanford, having given his father, Nathan Porter, his time, left home to set out for himself. He went into the State of New York, stopping in Erie County, Town of Willink, since called Holland. Here he labored opening up a farm for the space of one year. Sanford then returned to his father’s residence tarried about three months. During which he was married to my mother, Nancy Warriner. Daughter of Reuben and Sarah Warriner, whose maiden name was Colton. He then returned with his companion to his new home, and recommenced his labors. On the 20th of October 1812, my elder brother Chauncy Warriner was born. The mantle of hope mingled with a cloud of despair now encircled their humble company. My Father, Sanford, being absent having been drafted into the Militia to serve his country in the last war with Great Briton. He finally was taken down with a fever and obtaining a furlough, returned home in a very low state of health. Soon after his return home, the British succeeded in burning Buffalo, which caused great excitement through all that section of country. So that my father, Sanford,with many others left his possessions and finally settled down in Oneida County (of the State of New York) distant 180 miles. Here he remained until the year 1818. During which my two elder sisters and one brother was born, Malinda, Sarah, and John P.. He finally rented out his farm and returned on a visit to his kindred in Orange County Vermont. Here he bought a farm selling the one left. He remained only for the short space of two years. During which I, Nathan Tanner, was born, being on the 10th day of July 1820. As before stated, during this same year he (Sanford) sold out and moved back into the state of New York locating in Oneida County, town of Augusta. Here my younger brother Reuben was born May 1822 and died on the day of his birth. The following year my father sold his homestead here and moved into the State of Ohio, Trumbull County, town of Liberty. Here he remained until the year 1827. During his residence here I had another brother and sister born, Sanford and Nancy Areta, the former June 25th 1823, the latter August 8th 1825. Having once more made sale of his possessions, and having constructed a flatboat, he again set out with his family, of now seven children, for the State of Illinois, a distance of over 500 miles in company with one John Morgan and family, who assisted in building the boat. They launched out on the Mahonan River, passed down interesting Beaver River, thence on into the Ohio, which runs in a south westerly direction until it terminates in the greater Mississippi. We landed and disembarked at a town called Evansville in the State of Indiana. Having passed through many dangers with our humble conveyance. The most striking incidence was that of passing over the falls of the Beaver. As we neared the falls we drew to shore landed and disembarked the women and children. My father (Sanford) accompanying us leaving Mr. Morgan and two pilots on board. They launched out while we proceeded down along the shore. Watching the boat with intense interest as it drew into the suck, which soon plunged it over the falls. For a few moments we thought all was lost as it disappeared beneath the foaming waters. But it soon hove in sight right side up. No material damage being done in the adventure. But to return, my father (Sanford) stopped near the before mentioned town (Evansville, Indiana) with his family for the space of one year. Having landed on the 11th day of May 1827. He rented a farm of one Jentry. Soon after the seed was in the ground he was taken down with a severe spell of sickness, so that his recovery was considered very doubtful. However he survived and was able to teach school during the ensuing winter. I (Nathan Tanner Porter) was now near 8 years of age and can more fully remember the many incidence during our further advance into the far west. We resumed our journey in March 1828. We had what would now be considered a novel conveyance. It consisted of what was called a truck wagon. The wheels being composed entirely of wood, without spokes or fellies. Being carved out of a solid block which was sawed from a log with a diameter large enough for the size of the wheel desired. The hub and wheel being both of one piece the axles were all wood. Tallow was the most suitable for the spindles and they never failed to erg out when it was exhausted. Two yoke of oxen was the propelling force attached it. Our first encampment was located in the base of a large hollow tree. Sufficiently large to accommodate the entire family. This was selected to shelter us from the rain which was showering upon us. There was a natural doorway formed by which we entered this house of nature. We resumed our journey next morning. Crossed the Wabash River into the State of Illinois. Here we fell in company with Mr. Baldwin Clark, who had sold his residence, and through former arrangement, was waiting our arrival so as to accompany us with his family on to Taswell County in his state (Illinois), that being the place of our destination. As we moved on the broad fields of the prairie began to present themselves to our view. With wonder and adoration did we gaze upon these extensive fields of nature stretching themselves forth far beyond our natural vision. Thus we here wend our way. Crossing Sangamon River and arriving in Taswell County some time in June (1828). We encamped three miles from the Illinois River on the east. There was a vast country with but few inhabitants. There were two small towns on the river. One called Pekin on the east. The other Peoria on the west, and above the former. After exploring the country for a short time, my father (Sanford) located on a piece of land a short distance from our encampment, together with Mr. Morris Phelps, son-in-law of Mr. Clark, before mentioned, who settled four miles distant on what was called Farm Creek. Here the difficulties of an unsettled country had to be met. But through diligent toil we were soon surrounded with many of the comforts of life so far as food and raiment was concerned. But as to literature we were yet very deficient. There not being settlers enough to admit of schools, except at quite a distance which was beyond the reach of small children. The second year (1830) of our settlement here was made conspicuous by the breaking out of a tribe of Indians called Black Hawk. Since called the Black Hawk War. Many of the citizens were called to arms, and mustered into service for the defence of the country. The excitement was high for a short time. A treaty was soon ratified with the Indians and thus peace was restored again. About this time my father (Sanford) was engaged in building a saw mill in company with the before mentioned Mr. Phelps and John Cooper. But before the mill was in successful operation, he bought out the two partners and so became the sole proprietor of the business. It was located on Farm Creek miles distant from our residence. Finding it difficult to carry on the farm and the mill at such a distance he sold the homestead and moved to the mill. This was in the spring of 1830.


In the month of July (1830) of this same year, there came two ministers traveling through the country on their way to the western boundary of the State of Missouri, calling themselves Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They called upon my father (Sanford), having learned that he was a singular man in his religious belief. Contending (to argue earnestly) for the old Apostolic Doctrine, and the faith once delivered to the saints, that he believed in visions, and the ministering of angels. He standing aloof from every sect and creed, declaring that they were all out of the way, and therefore stood disconnected with any. Now this being the case, and it being a day in which the gifts and blessings of the gospel in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit by visions, the ministering of angels, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc., were deemed by all Christian world, so called. It becomes expedient that I should give a statement as to how my father (Sanford) became impressed into this belief. I will therefore refer back to his early history on this subject. And I will say at the age of about 25 years he was almost, if not quite, a profound atheist. Yea almost to that of an atheist, which is to deny the existence of a God. He came so near as to doubt there being one. Reason and the law of nature was his standard. Therefore any manifestations that was not natural or reasonable wording to the common cause of things, was by him entirely discarded. His reasoning was from cause to effect, and that there was no effect without a natural cause which produced it. And that this proceedeth from what is called by the atheist, the God of Nature without any divinity whatever. Therefore all those who believe in a Divine Being, he set down as phantasy, and all supernatural manifestations, a phantom of the brain, imaginary. And now as I said my father had advanced so far into skepticism as to doubt there being even a God of nature. But that all things came by chance, and that there was no existence after death. Now the thought that after death, he would be as though he had never been, being annihilated with all his faculties of both body and mind. Thus becoming extinct without any further existence whatever was more than he could endure. Therefore he began to be harrowed up in his mind with this awful thought. Looking upon death as a leap in the dark without one ray of light to glimmer in the last moments of sinking humanity. Thus he became troubled by day and by night. Yet he endeavored to prevent the knowledge of his true situation becoming known to anyone, lest he should be imposed upon by the impositions and flatteries of a hireling Priesthood. For he looked upon all the religious pretensions as a bundle of Priest craft, got up by the Priests for gain. One contending against the other. Each looking for his gain from his quarter. And he (Sanford) looked upon the Bible as a bundle of falsehood, with all manner of inconsistences. Therefore to prevent his concern of mind from being known, he walked the barn by day and the house by night.


Now on the third night after the rest of the family had retired to bed, consisting of my mother (Nancy Warriner) and eldest brother and sister who were in a profound sleep, as he (Sanford) was walking the room, being bowed down with anguish of soul, he cried out, “Oh, is there a God? If there is, may I know the way that is right.” As he uttered this there came an audible voice saying, “There is a God, and thou shalt be shown three times this night the way that is right, that thou needest never doubt.” Not withstanding it being a mild voice, yet it pierced to the very center so that his whole frame shook to the extremity of every limb. As soon as he had recovered from the shock the first thought was that some person, having learned of his situation had come, and putting his mouth at the top of the door had spoken those words with the intent of making him believe it to be spoken by some supernatural being. But withstanding, he had openly declared that no such being existed, only in the imaginations of the ignorant. No sooner had he received this impression than he was filled with indignation. And springing to the fire he seized the poker, threw open the door, and to his surprise a light snow had fallen, but it had cleared off and the stars shown bright. Now says he to himself, “I have a good chance to track you, my lark.” He went out and looked carefully all around the house. But to his surprise not a footprint of any living thing could be seen. The next conclusion was that this person had succeeded in getting into the house during the day, and had secreted himself upstairs, and had spoken through a crack near the door. The sound having come from the walls of the house as he stood fronting it. He came into the house, barred the door and lighting the candle took a chance and started up stairs. As he was ascending he thought to himself I will only leave the breath of life in him. Having not the least doubt but what he was there as he could be nowhere else. Keeping a close watch that he should not dodge by him. He soon found himself at the top of the stairs and raising the light he took a searching glance into every part of the room. But saw no person and nothing that would scare any person, except an old barrel standing in one corner of the room. Now that he was in or behind that barrel was to him certain. Therefore keeping a close watch he proceded to the barrel, looked behind it, then emptied out its contents consisting of old carpet rags, and not so much as a mouse was discovered. He now gave up the search and returned below entirely confounded in his doctrine and subdued in his spirit. He had now met with a manifestation, but could assign no natural cause by which it was produced. He knew that he had heard a voice, and understood distinctly the sound, but could find no trace of any being who could of uttered it. Therefore he settled down with the conviction that there was a God, and that the voice had proceeded forth from Heavenly Beings sent by Him. Therefore under this impression he seated himself before the fire marveling at what had transpired and the mildness of the voice. And yet how it caused his whole frame to shake. And that the pain and anguish of soul was gone, leaving his mind calm and serene, with the exception of a dread to hear the voice again, feeling that he could not endure the shock again. For he supposed he would hear the voice again telling him the way that is right, in fulfillment of the promise. He sat for some time, but no voice came. He finally thought he would lay down upon the bed and cover up, and thus he could lay and hear what the voice should say. As he (Sanford) lay down he thought the pillow felt unusually soft to his face, but in a twinkling, as it were, he was caught away with lightning speed from things of earth. Thus with a conductor by his side, he found himself standing in a world of light. Whether in the body or out of the body he could not tell, but to use his own language he said, “I felt of myself and thought it was no dream. But that it was really myself.” They stood upon what he called a railing encircling a body of light extending up so high that he could not see the top thereof. This light was all in motion as it were, life dwelling in the light. He could see as it were thousands of miles. So clear was the light, yet there were no sun, moon or stars to be seen. He saw people as numerous all most as the sand of the sea, seated around this light in what he called “box pews or sells”, having the appearance of those in a honeycomb, one forming a portion of another. These were only large enough to admit of two persons, male and female. There were a great many cells or mansions that were empty. Yet there were none that were occupied without a male and female. Thus they were paired all. All these were bowing to the light with humble reverence, full of praise and thanksgiving to God and the Lamb. Those who were the nearest to the light were the most happy, even beyond description. This was expressed in their countenance, which he said surpassed anything he ever beheld in beauty and loveliness. But further back from the light they were less happy, as the light shone less upon them. Thus he looked back until he saw those who were out in darkness. And oh, the awful anguish of soul that was pictured in every continuance. They were in the attitude of waving their hands and gnawing their tongues for pain. He could not enter the scene, and turning to his conductor he enquired as to who they were? His answer was that “They were those spoken of in the scriptures, who were liars, whoremongers and adulterers.” He asked if their torment ever would have an end? The answer was, “It had a beginning and it may have and end.” He asked what the light was that he saw, as to which all those were bowing to, who were so happy? He said, “It was God”. The angel conductor went on telling him things, even all that he wished to know about God, and that which was written of Him in the scriptures, referring him to many passages giving him chapter and verse. He told him that there was no true Church of God then on the earth. That the churches were all out of the way, and he forbade him to join any of them. My father asked if there would a true church arrive? The answer was, “There will”. He asked if he would live to see it? He says, “You will”. After he was told all he desired to know the angel says, “Come we must go back”. He looked from whence they came, and behold a dark abyss. He said, “Oh, let me stay”. His answer was, “You cannot stay”. Says my father, “Why can I not stay”. Says he, “You are not good enough”. My father asked, “If he would ever be any better?” He says, “You will occupy this mansion,” pointing to the one by which they stood. He referred him to the scripture where the Savior said, “`In my house are many mansions’, and now as Christ said to Peter, `when thou art converted strengthen thy brethren’. So say I unto you, when thou art converted tell this to the world”. Say my father, “They will not believe me if I do”. He says, “What is that to thee. Do as you are bid. There are some who will believe. Come let us go”. In an instant they were on the wing, as it were. He awoke feeling a very singular sensation throughout his whole system, like unto a person’s arm or leg having been asleep, as it is called, causing a prickly sensation. Thus it appears that his spirit must have left his body and that which he thought was his natural body, standing in that world of light, was in reality the body of his spirit. (But to return) As he awoke, he endeavored to awaken my mother that he might relate to her what he had seen. But a profound sleep had come upon her so that when he endeavored to awake her she would partially wake up, but immediately fall asleep again. He therefore lay meditating upon what he had seen and heard, but only for a short time, as he was soon taken as before by the same conductor who showed and told him the same things, word for word. And thus it was once more repeated in fulfillment of the promise that he should be shown three times that night the way that was right so that he need never doubt. And so it was he doubted no more as to God and Godliness, but stood alone declaring what he had seen and heard from him who could not lie. And thus he met opposition. Confounding all who opposed the word of God and the testimony which he had received.


I will now return to my account of those ministers who called upon my father, as before stated. He received them cordially as he was accustomed to with all who wished to converse upon the Holy Scriptures. After they had rested and refreshed themselves a little he entered into conversation with them. They testified that an angel from heaven had appeared to one Joseph Smith, residing in Ontario County, New York, who revealed unto him the Gospel, as taught by Christ and his apostles, with all the gifts and blessings enjoyed by the ancient saints. Also an ancient record, written upon gold plates by an ancient people once inhabiting this continent, and hid up by one of their last prophets to come forth by the hand of God in the last days unto the remnant of their seed. Which, they said was the Indian Tribes of this continent, according to the record. This record was found by Mr. Smith, under the direction of the angel, in a small hill near his residence, called by those ancient people Cumorah. With this record was found an instrument called the Urum and Thummum, being two transparent stones placed in two rims of a bow. By means of this, through the gift and power of God, Mr. Smith was enabled to translate the engravings on these plates, into the English language, which is now published to all the world, containing the fullness of the gospel of Christ set forth as revealed by himself unto this people, after his resurrection and ascension into heaven. After they had given an outline of this marvelous discovery, they presented this book to my father for perusal entitled the Book of Mormon. After he had read the book carefully through and had made all the inquiries he wished, as to their doctrine, they asked my father what he thought of it. He replied that it was nothing more nor less than the old Apostolic Doctrine. They then asked if he was not willing to join them. He replied that he was not, for as he had told them he had been forbidden to join any church that was on the earth. And therefore he should join none except it should be made manifest, by him who could not lie, that it was his duty. They (missionaries) replied that he (Sanford) was forbidden to join any that was then on the earth, but the Latter Day Saints had arisen since that time. And as he (Sanford) had informed them, that he was told that a true church would arise. “That is so,” says my father. “But I have no evidence further than your testimony that you are that church. Therefore I shall never join you until I know of a surety that you are of that true church which should arise.” They tarried several days during which they held several meetings in the neighborhood, which my father attended attentively. At the close of the last meeting one of them, whose name was Lyman Wight, the other John Carrol, came to my father and asked, “If he was not yet convinced that it was his duty to join them”. He said, “He was not, as he had received no assurance that it was his duty, and had no manifestation as yet that they were right”. Mr. Wight looked steadily on the ground for a few moments, then looking up says to my father, “If you are convinced that we are right, will you come tomorrow morning and let us know”. Now they were to start the next morning on their way. His (Sanford’s) answer was, “If it is made known to me that you are right, I will let you know if I have to follow you to Pekin or to Missouri, or I will follow you to the end of the world.” “That” says he, “Is all I ask”. And bidding him (Sanford) goodnight, they separated. My father returning home pondering upon the singular expression “if you are convinced will you come and let us know tomorrow morning?” As though he would be shown within that time. He repaired to bed at quite a late hour still meditating on what had passed during the day and evening. He finally fell asleep and remained until the dawn of day when he awoke without any manifestation whatever as to the strange ministers or their doctrine. But as he still lay pondering in his mind, thinking that perhaps they were like all others, deceiving and being deceived. He was instantly taken in vision, as formally by the same conductor, who informed him that these men were servants of the living God, and that their testimony was true. That God had set up His church and kingdom on the earth. That the gospel was now revealed in its purity, and that it was his duty to embrace it. As he awoke from this trance or vision he immediately set out to inform those ministers that he was ready to join them with full purpose of heart. They (missionaries) were stopping at the place of the before mentioned. As he drew near the house, he saw Elder Wight walking down the road toward him. As they met he looked up to my father with a smile and said, “Well Mr. Porter, are you ready to join us now?” He replied that he was and had come to inform them of the fact as he promised him he would. He turned and accompanying on to the house where my father related the circumstance of his convictions. After which they made arrangements to hold a meeting at father’s house the following day, where they would attend to the ordinance of baptism. Therefore they returned with my father. The word was soon noised abroad of the meeting and that my father was going to unite with those strange people calling themselves Latter Day Saints. Thus quite a multitude assembled at the time appointed. After the close of the meeting they repaired to a suitable place for baptism. After they had sung and prayed by the water edge, Elder Wight took my father by the hand and led him down into the water and says unto him, “Are you willing to forsake all your sins, and take upon you the name of Jesus Christ, and enter into covenant before God that you will live by every word that cometh forth from his mouth?” When my father had answered in the affirmative, he says calling him by name, “…having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” He then immersed him in the water and came up out of the water. And thus he baptized my father, mother, brother and one sister. (Family records show that Sanford Porter, his wife Nancy Warriner, and three children, Chauncy Warriner Porter, Malinda Porter and Sarah Porter were baptized on 10 August 1831.) They held a confirmation meeting in the evening and confirmed them members in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by the laying on of hands, with the promise of the Holy Ghost, which fell upon them. And they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. They also ordained my father to the office of an Elder. And after giving him the necessary instruction with regard to the duties of this calling, they departed on their way having an appointment ahead about six miles distance at the house of one Jonathan Sumner, whom they also baptized and ordained to the office of a Elder.


My father being in attendance was much pleased to know that he was not left entirely alone to set forth and defend the gospel he had embraced, and more so, as Mr. Sumner was a former neighbor and intimate acquaintance. They were instructed to unite their labors together preaching the gospel in the country round about for a season until the land of Zion should be designated, which was the object of their mission to the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, in connection with the Prophet Joseph Smith and others. My father returned to his home rejoicing in the light and liberty where in he now felt free. His whole soul seemed to be fired up by the Holy Spirit which he now took for his guide. Thus he went forth with his fellow laborer whether so ever they were led. After laboring a short time in the neighborhood around, they felt impressed by the Spirit to take their journey in a northern direction. Thus they went forth pursuing this course until they came into the neighborhood where Mr. Baldwin Clark and Morris Phelps resided, of whom I have before made mention, being some sixty miles distant. Here they labored a short time, baptizing Mr. Phelps and wife, his brother-in-law John Cooper and wife, with several other families whom they organized into a branch of the church, and returned home to rest for a season.


About this time two Elders called on their return from the State of Missouri, whither they had been with others in search of a gathering place to be called Zion, as before mentioned, which they informed my father, was located in Jackson County of that state bordering on the western boundary, between the United States and the Indian Territory, and was designated by the word of God through the Prophet Joseph Smith with instructions for the saints to gather up immediately for that place. Therefore my father made no delay in offering his farm and mill for sale, which he soon accomplished. Having in the mean time informed those whom they had baptized of his intention to gather up to the land of Zion, instructing them to do likewise and accompany him on the journey which they did. So that on the first of December of the insuring year (1831) he (Sanford) started in company with Morris Phelps, James Emit, William Aldrage, John Aldrage, Harrison Aldrage and one by the name of Berry, with their families, over whom he was chosen to preside and take the leadership while on the journey, with James Emett as council and assistant. Thus he set out with his little company, pitching their tents by the way. Having to contend with frost and snow which now encircled our camp fires with piercing effect as the sun withdrew his rays behind the western horizon. I (Nathan Tanner Porter) was now eleven years of age, and although thus young, was quite conscious of the unfavorable prospects of anything but a cold and tedious journey for ourselves and animals, having some five hundred miles before us. It required no small fortitude, coupled with an assurance that it was the mind and will of God, to induce those who had charge of wives and children, to undertake such a journey at this season of the year. It was under these considerations with the full assurance that it was the mind and will of God, that my father set out, with this little band, not only to meet the storms of snow, hail and sleet, but the denunciations of neighbors and the stranger whom they should meet on the way. Our first encampment was on the banks of the Illinois River, which we crossed the following day on the ice. It being frozen over to the depth of 8 or 10 inches. We did not pass over on this bridge of nature without some entry labor wisely applied. As the ice was so smooth that the teams could not stand upon it. Now to hack it up or haul sand and throw upon it was to long and tedious a task. Therefore my father suggested the propriety of cutting a quantity of tall grass which stood near by and strew it along on the ice, then throw water on it, which they could easily do by cutting holes along the track. And as the weather was at the freezing point it would freeze the grass fast to the ice. This met the approbation of the company and all hands went to, so that the work was soon accomplished which answered the purpose admirably well. So in a short time all were safely across.


Thus we moved on, crossed Spoon River in like manner, some sixty miles distant. Here we found a brother with his family by the name of Umpstead, who had joined the church a short time previous. We stopped here for several days, after which resumed our journey. Nothing of note transpiring until we came to the Mississippi River, a distance of eighty miles. Here we found that the ice on this the father of waters was about to break up, inconsequence of a south wind which had prevailed for several days. It was now considered by the citizens unsafe for foot men to cross, much less for animals and wagons. Now the limited means of the company would not admit a prolonged stay, which would be the case, ere the ice in the river would pass, so as to admit of a passage by ferry boat. Thus our situation was anything but pleasant to reflect upon. Therefore as I said before, my father having received the Holy Spirit, took it for his guide. Therefore he inconnection with Elder Emett, retired a short distance from the camp and enquired of the Lord as to what they should do. And it came to pass that the voice of the spirit unto them saying, “Be of good cheer. For behold I will prepare the way before you. Get ye up early on the morrow morning and cross this river with your wagons and teams. Use wisdom, and no harm shall befall you, but you shall cross in safety.” Now this was glad tiding of great joy to the little company, as they announced to them the mind and will of God. Thus all retired to rest for the night with high anticipation as to the events of the morrow. Nevertheless my father and Elder Emett gave no sleep to their eyes nor slumber to their eyelids, because of their great anxiety for an immediate change in the weather, which they hourly expected, as there was still a strong breeze from the south. Now they watched with almost an assurance in their own minds that the winds would shift into the north. So as to bring a severe frost that thereby the ice would be strengthened, so as to support the burden that was to come upon it. But to their surprise the wind ceased not to blow from the south during whole night. Nevertheless there was a light freeze so as to increase the strength of the ice to some extent. The camp was aroused at an early hour and soon the first wagon appeared on the bank opposite the town of Palmira situated on the west bank. This wagon and team was drive by my eldest brother, Warriner, consisting of three yoke of oxen. He was soon followed by others in close proximity. While my father tarried to see that all were properly on the move, having given instructions for the first or foremost team to stop on arriving at a certain sand bar, some half or two thirds across. With a view of taking precautionary measures in passing over the channel, which was near the opposite bank, as at that point was the great danger, as the current of water had reduced the ice so that it was very thin. But not withstanding the charge given, my brother being very zealous, having full confidence in the word of the Lord, which had been given in like manner when circumstances required it, made but little or no stop at the point designated, but rushing on crossed with his entire team to the wagon. This truly was exhibiting much faith, but a lack of that wisdom that was required, for the ice truly sprung so that it was plainly seen to raise like a wave behind the wagon as it passed along. My father now coming up stopped others from attempting to cross in that manner, admonishing my brother for being so hasty and inconsiderate. Requiring each team to be taken off the wagon and drove across separately, and thus by attaching a horse to the end of the tongue all were run across in safety. To the surprise of a dense crowd of people who thronged the bank while every window that would admit a view seemed to be occupied to its utmost capacity, with women and children, black and white, all looking on with almost an assurance that a portion if not all would go to the bottom. All sorts of language was used to express their horror at what they termed enthusiasm or madness in the extreme. But all this was soon hushed and a voice was heard, here and there, “That beat anything I ever saw. What a bill of expenses they have saved.” It was now about 10 AM, and the water was running down the slopes into the river most profusely from the effects of the sun, and still a prevailing south wind. Nevertheless we were all safe across and thus went on our way rejoicing in him who had strengthened the ice for our sakes. We were now in the State of Missouri where on the extreme west lay the concentrated land for the Center Stake of Zion, where we expected to obtain an everlasting inheritance. After traveling several days we encamped for a short time to let our teams rest. Here a council was held and it was deemed expedient to send one of the brethren, in advance up to our brethren in Zion, with instruction to borrow sufficient means in behalf of the company to enable us to prosecute our journey without delay, as our means were now quite exhausted. Brother Morris Phelps was selected to perform this mission and then was soon on his way in pursuance of the same.


It was here where an almost fatal accident happened to my younger brother Sanford, in which he was kicked by a horse which had just been newly shod. The toe cork penetrating to its full depth in his forehead. He was taken up for dead as all sign of life had left the body, and thus he was brought into our tent a lifeless corpse, to all natural appearance. The alarm caused quite an excitement through out the camp as they came horridly from every quarter. But my father retained that calm deliberation of mind seldom inhibited under like circumstances. He requested the brethren and sisters not to be excited, but be calm in their spirits and feelings, while he with others of the Elders would pray over him, that he might be raised up to life. They anointed him with oil, then layed their hands upon his head and prayed the Father, in the name of Jesus, that he would raise him to life. And so it was done. For no sooner had they taken their hands from his head than the muscles of the body began to move, and he was soon gazing upon his parents and friends, who had just witnessed the power of God in his restoration to life. And thus we were begotten to a lively hope of his entire recovery. The following day we resumed our journey, my brother still recovering from his wound. Nothing of note occurred until we came to the Missouri River, which we crossed at a town called Arrow Rock. We made the crossing by means of a ferry boat which was established at that point. This was more expensive than our former crossings, and but little less perilous, as the waters of this river runs with great violence, so that it requires care and strict attention on the part of the ferryman, in order to make a safe landing. Not far from this point we were met by our messenger, Brother Phelps, with means sufficient to enable us to continue the journey without delay, which we did. Arriving at the settlement of our brethren near the town of Independence, Jackson County, State of Missouri on the first of March 1832. Thus three months of the most inclement season of the year had passed over us with all its changes to which we were exposed during our pilgrimage.


The saints greeted us with a hearty welcome, as brethren and weary pilgrims, as we were the first company who had come pitching their tents by the way, like Israel of old. We were now on the consecrated land, with high anticipation of soon receiving an inheritance that would be ever lasting, with all the blessings pertaining there to, which was the object of our toil. We felt that our pilgrimage was over and that our abiding place was sure, until the coming of the Son of Man, and throughout his reign of a thousand years. We were shown the lot which had been selected by revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith for the Temple, called Temple Block. It was now in its wild state, being covered with heavy timber, a portion of which the brethren had already begun to remove for their present use. At the same time prepare it, to some extent, for that magnificent temple soon to stand upon it, for to us it appeared nigh at hand. This lot lays nigh unto the town plot of Independence, if not within its present limits. Some three miles from the Missouri River on the north, a goodly number of the saints from the branches of the church in the Eastern states, mostly from Kirkland, Ohio, had come up by water during the previous summer and fall, and were located to the distance of from twelve to fourteen miles to the west. Being divided into five branches called as follows: 1st Independence, 2nd Bigblue, 3rd Timber, 4th Coleville, and 5th Prairie Branches. My father received his inheritance in the last named branch, under the hands of Bishop Edward Partridge, consisting of some 20 acres. He (Sanford) went to work building and otherwise improving it. Soon followed the law of consecration, which was complied with by all the Branches, with one exception. There were a few in the Independence Branch who refused to consecrate their property in common with their brethren. Notwithstanding the urgent request of the Bishop for them to comply, as there were none exempt from this law. This was a cause of much trial to the Bishop, as some were those who stood in the high rank of the priesthood, and were set as guides to their brethren, to say unto them, this is the way, walk ye in it. Therefore as they represented that it was not required of them to consecrate their household goods, as others had done. The Bishop, under the conviction that if they were exempt, all were, went to and returned to every man his property thus consecrated. This reaction in the temporal condition of the saints seemed to produce a more striking reaction in their spiritual advancement. There arose more envying and strife, mingled with murmuring than hither to, and so it really was for soon the word of the Lord came through the Prophet Joseph saying, that a scourge and a judgment remained to be poured out upon the inhabitance of zion, except they should repent, because of these things (See Book of Doctrine and Covenants) I well remember my feelings when this revelation was read in our ears, and although young, I felt a deep concern lest we as a people could not sufficiently repent, so as to turn away the Lord’s anger by putting away those things. Nevertheless many did humble themselves before the Lord, so that the gifts and blessings of the gospel was made manifest in prophesying, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues, and many children were baptized, who had arrived to the age of eight years and upwards. They would arise in the testimony meeting and under the influence of the Holy Spirit speak many great things, even I myself. Brothers John and Sanford, with several others, were baptized on or near the 20th of June by Elder Johnathan Sumner and confirmed under his and the hands of my father (in the Prairie Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, Jackson County, State of Missouri).


Now in the latter part of this year (1832) there began to be manifest a spirit of persecution on the part of our gentile neighbors living in and adjacent to our settlement. Threatening violence to all who were believers in “Joe Smith”, as they called him. During the following spring and summer (1833) they formed a secret combination into which they entered, binding themselves under the most wicked oaths, to stand by each other in driving every man, women and child, who would not renounce Mormonism, from the county, which they succeeded in doing, but not without some sharp resistance on the part of the saints in self defence. Finding it their duty to protect themselves, their wives and their children against such inhuman outrages. This resulted in the death of several of the mob. One (death) on the part of the brethren, though the person was not a member in the church, but zealous in defending the right, and thus in no wise will loose his reward. Two or three others were wounded. Finally finding that the mobs were increasing their numbers, by exciting their neighbors and the citizens generally throughout the county and else where, by circulating the most infamous lies and misrepresentations that their wicked hearts could conceive of, it was considered wisdom to comply with their unlawful and inhuman demands, having appealed to the government and other executive authorities for protection, without the least avail. A situation therefore was entered into, by the presiding authorities of the church, with these wholesale robbers, in which the saints were to leave the county, having a reasonable time given to gather up their effects and move to some other part as best they could, and that they should be unmolested while so doing. The mob entered into a solemn promise that they would cease their hostilities and that the saints should have a reasonable opportunity to dispose of their homes and depart in peace with this requisition. However, that our men should give up their arms as a pledge, which should be returned to them on or before their leaving the county. But no sooner were these stipulations complied with on the part of the saints, than the whole banditry of robbers was turned loose with their weapons of death, and painted faces, to prey upon their helpless victims. Thus they separated themselves into squads of from three to a half dozen or more, as they chose, going forth hunting down men, beating them in the most inhuman manner, plundering their houses, abusing their wives and daughters in a shameful manner, surely this was a day of great peril. Men, women and children were seen fleeing in all directions, hiding in corn shocks, in thickets, in cellars, using every stratagem within their reach to elude the grasp of these relentless demons in human shape. Our fields were thrown open, our grain trampled under foot by man and beast, and thus we fled before the blackened faces of our enemies.


So by the first of November of this 1833, the saints were scattered like sheep before ravenous wolves. The main body of the church crossed the Missouri River on the north, while a remnant fled into the wilderness on the south. Thus were men, women and children forced at the point of the bayonet to meet a cold and dreary winter without a supply of food, raiment or shelter to protect them from the stormy blasts. But not without hope in God their Father, who had previously said unto them by the mouth of his servant Joseph the Prophet, that not many days hence, and the heavens shall shake for your good, and so it was. The bank of river was soon lined with the camp fires of the little suffering exiles. Here they were called for a halt, like Israel of old. Having no means at their command by which they could pass over this turbulent stream, which is continually casting up its mire of quick sands, as it wends its way into great Mississippi. Here they were while the mobs were preparing to pressure them under solemn pledge to slay men, women and children, but they were delivered from this awful butchery by the power of God. Not by the dividing the water of the river, but by the shaking of the heavens, as promised. For behold on the night of the 12th (it being the night of that awful conspiracy to destroy them) the starry heavens was set in commotion. The stars seemed to fall as figs fall from a fig tree when shaken with a mighty wind when they are fully ripe. And thus great fear fell upon the mob and all the people round about, and they abandoned their weapons of death, and their wicked purpose in using them. For the fear of their own destruction came suddenly upon them. They said surely the end of the world is coming. Many fell to the ground crying to God for mercy. While their intended victims were surrounding their campfires, gazing upon the scene with acclamations of thanksgiving and praise to God. The scene continued until the approach of day. Now as this heavenly display was termed by philosopher, a meteoric shower, that they were not stars, but meteors only. I will here state that it was observed by myself and many others in our camp, that quite a number of these moving bodies did stop in their course, apparently within a short space from their starting point, and there remained unchanged in their former appearance. Therefore the fact that some of those moving lights were those denominated stars, as seen in the heavens, admits of no argument in the minds of those who observed the fact, while gazing upon the scene. This great phenomena left a deep consternation upon the inhabitants throughout the county for a short time, during which the saints passed over into Clay and Ray counties where they found favor in the eyes of the inhabitants, so that they gave them shelter and employment for a short season. (“The shaking of the heavens” or the “falling stars–meteoric shower” is described in A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by B. H. Roberts, Volumne 1, page 346-347.)


After which they began to be stirred up to jealousy by the rapid increase of the saints. This was aroused by political aspirants who told the people that if they let the Mormons alone they would win the popular vote in their elections, and thus they would soon be under their rule. A compromise however was entered into between the authorities of the Church and the leading citizens of the two counties (Clay and Ray Counties). In which it was agreed that where as Caldwell County, lying adjacent to Clay and Ray was almost entirely unsettled, as well uninviting, because of the scarcity of timber. Therefore it unanimously agreed that they should have full liberty to settle the entire county with their people, by paying the few settlers who should be disposed to sell, a fair compensation for their improvements. This being ratified the saints began to leave their jealous neighbors and locate once more to themselves on the land they might call their own. This was in the fall of 1835, and by the fall of 1836 the whole area of land was taken up, and the once desolate untimbered country, was declared tenantable and brought into market by the general government, to which the saints once more paid their money and once more received Warrantee Deeds for their homesteads. The whole face of the broad-spread prairies were now fast changing into wavering fields of grain, and be dotted with the dwellings of the husbandman, and villages were springing up in various parts of the county so that the late poverty of the people was fast disappearing. And by the fall of 1837 all the land was being brought into cultivation within the limits of the county, while settlements were being formed in the adjoining County of Davies. But alas, this rapid spread and prosperity on the part of the saints, through their untiring industry under the blessings of the Lord, had the deplorable effect of stirring up the lurking jealousy of the inhabitants of the surrounding counties. Their covetous souls were aroused not only to despoil them, but to possess themselves of the fruits of their toil. In the spring and summer of 1838 they commenced their depredations upon the other settlements and thus the cry of mob violence was heard again by the oppressed. All manner of lies and misrepresentations were again resorted to, which had the effect, as formerly, in stirring up prejudice and exciting the population as well as those in office, even the executive of the state, which resulted in the driving of the saints from the state by the exterminating order of Governor Lilburn W. Bogs. Joseph the Prophet and his brother Hyrum with several others were cast into prison, while men, women and children were driven at the point of the bayonet from their homes in the dead of winter. Many fell martyrs under the cruel hand of the oppressor. I will now abridge my account of the wholesale dispersion of the saints from the state. And refer the reader to the church history and other publications in the church for a full account of the vile persecutions and hardships endured by this afflicted people. That I may turn more fully to mine own account and that of my father. Therefore suffice it to say they fled from the face of their oppressors into the state of Illinois and finally settled on the east bank of the Mississippi River at a place called Commerce. Joseph and Hyrum having escaped from prison were again with the church and succeeded in obtaining this place for a location, which was beautiful for location, but was rendered almost uninhabitable because of a prevailing disease called fever and ague. So much so that their enemies congratulated themselves with the assurance that they would be swept off. They said they would die like rotten sheep. So that there would be an end of Mormonism without any further trouble. But in this they were disappointed for the Lord was with his people and turned away the sickness of the land for their sake. The prophet went forward and dedicated the land to the Lord for the gathering of his people. They laid out a city which they called Nauvoo. Which by interpretation is beautiful, for situation this was in the spring of 1839.


I will now resume my own history in connection with my Father, and thus will refer back to the dispersion of the saints from Jackson County in the fall of 1833, and as I said a few families fled into the wilderness on the south. Behold my father with his family was one of them. We were encamped on the head waters of the Grand River on the night of the 12th of November (1833) when the starry heavens were in such commotion, as heretofore stated, that at times it seemed as tho the heavens would be no more. And thus the earth might pass away at an instant, suddenly as the prophets have foretold, and as I said in regard to those encamped on the banks of the Missouri. So it was with us, the whole camp was aroused from their slumbers, and standing around their fires, gazed with wonder and admiration. The earth was lit up by the moving heavenly bodies, so that a pin could of been seen upon the ground. And as I before said, it was like the shaking of a fig or fruit tree, when fully ripe, they would shower down on all sides of sky for a few minutes then peace for 10 or 15 minutes when the scene would be repeated, which continued until morning light extinguished them from our sight. Thus the power of God was manifested in behalf of his people in fulfillment of his word.


We traveled down this stream, it being the south fork of Grand River, a short distance where we stopped for the winter. My father having charge of the little company of 10 or 15 families. Our small supply of provisions, soon became exhausted. A council was held to consult as to the best course to pursue, to obtain a supply. After considerable consideration it was suggested, by my father, that whereas we were destitute of means to purchase, a few should take their teams and return to our inheritances, that perhaps the Lord would soften the hearts of our enemies when they learned that our women and children were about to perish with hunger in the wilderness. And thus would allow us to take of the grain we had left in our bins, and hogs we had left in the pens. But a delusive spirit having got into the hearts of many of our company, so that they were carried away with the belief that they should return with their families and take possession of their inheritances. That if their enemies should come upon them, the Lord would manifest his power unto their deliverance and the redemption of zion. They became so firm in this belief that they would not hearken to my father, notwithstanding his remonstrance to such a move. Now their faith was in the reliance they had in revelations and manifestations, through the gift of tongues, which was exorcised through different individuals and interpreted by a Sister Crandel, who was noted in the exercise of that gift. They finally drew off choosing a leader from among themselves and began to make preparations to return. My father, under a sense of duty, forewarned them that if they returned with their families, they might prepare their backs for a thrashing, as the mob would surly come upon them. They however returned with joyous anticipations. Father with two or three others returned with their teams for provisions. He (SANFORD) went on in advance of the teams, and upon arriving at his inheritance he found a man with his family in his house by the name of Prikrel. Before entering the house, he went to the corn crib, but alas there was no corn. He then went to the pig pen, but found no pigs. His team was now in sight on the open prairie, but there was nothing to load it with, while his family were in the wilderness almost entirely without food. With this reflection he became troubled in mind and spirit, and commenced walking the yard in deep meditation. While he was thus walking a Mr. Cantrell, one of our moberatic neighbors, came out of the house, and walking up to my father, saluted him with, “How do you do, Mr. Porter. You seem to be in trouble.” “I am,” was the reply. “My family is in yonder wilderness without food. That is my team you see approaching. I have been to my crib, but there is no corn, and to my pig pen, but there is no pork. I am in deep trouble, Mr Cantrell.” This was too much even for a highwayman to withstand, for he it was who had thrown open our field before our eyes and turned his horses, cattle and hogs into our grain, not yet gathered. His reflection upon this fact, kindled up anew the sinking spark of humanity in his bosom, and thus he exclaimed, “Mr Porter, your family shall not suffer. Drive your team up to my house and load it up.” Father replied that he had no way of paying him. He said, “That made no difference. You shall have provisions for your family.” Father accepted his offer with thanks to him and deep gratitude to our Father in Heaven for softening his hardened heart unto the relief of himself and family. Thus the hand of the Lord was made manifest in opening up the way for us, that we should not perish in the wilderness for the want of food. And again, the impression which my father had with regard to those who returned with their families, was realized by them of which he faithfully warned them. That if they should return with their families to remain on their inheritances, the mob would surely come upon them. This was the manifestation of the spirit to him, and so it was, for although they suffered them to take possession of their homes without molestation, as soon as they learned that it was their intention to remain on them, the mob sent a few of their number to offer them the privilege of remaining until the spring opened, but no longer. Now these brethren were so confident in the manifestations they had received which was to the effect that if their enemies should come upon them the Lord would make bare his arm unto their deliverance, as before stated. Thus they rejected the proposition. The mob gathered up their horses and came upon them in their anger, beating several of the men in a most brutal manner, using chairs until they were literally smashed up, on their heads and mangled bodies, leaving one of them for dead, as they doubtless supposed. Having thus spent their fury upon them, they departed, after warning them that if they did not leave within so many days, they would come and utterly spoil them. Consequently they gathered up their effects and fled, crossing the Missouri River to the main body of the church. Thus ended their organization and manifestations with their sorrowful results. My father having obtained food returned with those who came with him, they having obtained a supply from their inheritance. We had built temporary houses for the winter, but as soon as the spring opened, a move was made further south on to a tributary of this river. Here we commenced to open up a farm, that is my father with his family, while the other families, Jonathan Sumner, Brother Pryer and Ira Smith, located 5 miles distant on the south fork of the Grand River. This was almost an entire prairie county. The stream being but narrowly skirted with timber. My elder brother Chauncy Warriner having married Amy Sumner, daughter of Jonathan Sumner, commenced to open him a farm also. Here we found ourselves in an unsettled county, far from any supplier of food or raiment and thus must rely almost if not entirely upon our own resources, which were very limited. Indeed there was not a grist mill within forty miles, or other manufactories or merchandise, and neighbors were 5 miles away. Thus schools were out of the question, for some years at least.


We remained for the space of five years, having been prospered and blessed unto the obtaining of many of the comforts of life, but were deprived of many privileges enjoyed by those who were with the body of the church. Therefore, after the elapse of 4 years, being desirous to enjoy the privileges, my father made a visit to the church with the view of obtaining land upon which to locate himself and family, in which he was successful. And returning home, he began to make preparation to move by offering his improvement for sale. But before succeeding in making sale, the spirit of persecution arose against the church, resulting in death and imprisonment and final banishment of the church from the state (Missouri) as previously set forth. Consequently he deferred his sale until the following spring, 1839, having in the mean time made entry of his land from the government, and thus could give a warrant deed to purchasers, which he considered would enable him to make a more ready sale. But in this he was disappointed, for not withstanding there were those who were inclined to embrace any favorable opportunity to possess themselves of his possessions, they were equally as ready to take advantage of circumstances favorable to a nominal purchase. Therefore learning that he was determined to follow up and locate with the church, they put their heads together to this end. But in this they were disappointed. My father preferring to leave his possessions, without signing away his title to them, for nothing but a mere pittance as a recompence. Therefore we gathered our effects and departed, leaving our house and land in the care of a poor but well disposed neighbor. And thus set out for the main body of the church in company with Ira Smith and family. We being the only families who remained, the others having gone to the church before the exodus. We left the first of May (1839), arriving at Nauvoo in the forepart of June, being some five weeks on the way. We located five miles to the west of Nauvoo in the state of Iowa, which is bounded on the east by the Mississippi River, on the east bank of the river the City of Nauvoo, formally called “Commerce”, is located. The saints were now gathering in from various places whither they had stopped while fleeing from their oppressors. And thus the city and its surroundings began to change its appearance, from uncultivated lands, to that teaming with cultivated farms adjacent to a well laid out city, which was now in its infancy, but was being dotted with the houses and tents of its late plundered citizens. NATHAN PREPARES TO EARN HIS OWN WAY I will not enter into a detailed account of the rapid growth, peace and prosperity attending us as a people during the short space of six years, during which a great city with a magnificent temple was reared. But will only refer to a few of the various events which came under my immediate observation, and thus is immediately connected with my own history and that of my father’s. I (Nathan Tanner Porter) was nineteen years of age at the time of our locating here. And feeling somewhat anxious to set out for myself, my father kindly proffered to give me my time, on condition that I would make a certain amount of rails for fencing and assist in closing in the farm which was being brought into cultivation. This I readily excepted and went to work with renewed energy. So much so that I over taxed my strength and thus was disabled by an over strain in my breast, which laid me up for the rest of the season, being confined to the house and a great portion of the time to my bed, with the palpitation of the heart . Oft times despairing of life. Thus I was brought to realize that time was not mine to use. Only as given by Him who said, “let there be light and there was light.” And to Him did I pour out my desires for length of days on the earth. Not to use according to the council of my own will, but as should be meet and pleasing in His sight. Yea, I did enter into a covenant with the Lord that if he would spare my life and raise me up in health and strength, I would spend my days in his service. Yea I would travel to the ends of the earth, leaving father, mother, brothers and sisters, and preach the gospel to nations afar off should he require it at my hand. Finally he gave me a promise by the mouth of his servants, as they came and laid their hands upon me in His name and said, “Thou shalt live and yet skip upon the mountains and upon the hills, and shall go forth and proclaim the gospel to those who sit in darkness.” And I began to recover from that time, and was soon able to ride out to the neighbors.


Some time in August (1839), while I was in this weak state of body, my sister Sarah was married to one David Willard. But not with the approbation of father and mother or the rest of the family. They were earnest in their disapproval, and this on account of his (David Willard’s) departure from the church and the principles of the gospel. I was much affected in my feeling being weak in body, and a deep interest in her future enjoyment, and said all that I thought a brother should say to prevent their union. Feeling it would result in disappointment and sorrow on her part so long as she remained true to the gospel, unless he would retrace his steps, and with full purpose of heart return through the waters of baptism which I greatly feared he would not do. Nevertheless he flattered her that this was his conviction and firm resolution to do at the first opportunity after their marriage. Thus with confidential reliance on his promise, she resolved to risk the future. He took her to his residence on Skunk River, some 20 miles distant. My health continued to improve during the fall and winter so that in the following spring (1840) I took my father’s team to complete a job of braking he had taken of Ira Smith, our former neighbor who now was located near to my sister Sarah’s residence. The ground which I was to brake up, being within call from the house. So I availed myself of the opportunity of paying her almost daily visits while my team were grazing at noon time. And as he was frequently absent I would oft times find her alone and apparently low spirited. This I assigned to her being lonesome during her husband’s absence as I had not seen any manifestation of ill treatment on his part. But to the reverse. Yet upon every additional visit I discerned an increased degree of despondency. This aroused my anxiety to learn the real cause. Can it be possible that he mistreats her, I would conjecture to my self, or has he refused to fulfill his promise that he would come into the church again by baptism. Finally on one occasion I found her weeping, and asked to know the cause of her sorrow. She hesitated. I then asked if David mistreated her. She replied that he did not. That he was as kind as a husband need be, or words to that effect. “But I do not want to live,” was earnestly expressed with deep emotion in a flow of tears. I almost involuntary exclaimed, “Why Sarah, what is the matter.” I endeavored to divest her mind from such an unwise course in her conclusion, but to no avail. I continued to call in and found her in the same state of mind and saw that her bodily strength was failing so that she was confined to her bed the greater portion of the day. And finding her still reserve in her feelings as to assigning any reasons for her despondency I inquired of Sister Smith our old neighbor with whom she was very intimate. She said that David had flattered Sarah that he believed in the doctrine of the church, and would embrace its principles again, and would never say anything against it in her hearing. But in her absence he would join in with others in denouncing Joseph Smith and her church to all intent, and that Sarah had become fully appraised of the fact, having accidentally heard for herself. This to my mind was a key to the cause of her trouble. She saw at once that he had deceived her, that he had no intention of reuniting with the church and that his real spirit and feelings were bitterly opposed to it. And thus she had given up all hopes of ever realizing her most sanguine anticipation in having a husband not only kind and affectionate to her, but also devoted to God and his kingdom. She (Sarah) could no longer look forward with any assurance to a time when his voice would be heard at the head of the family circle, returning thanks to God and imploring Him for a continuation of His blessings but the reverse was now made manifest. So that the future for herself and more especially for her children was sorrowful to contemplate. She could see that the children would be likely to follow the example of their father and thus they would not be brought up in the way they should go. She had risked the future in her choice thus far. But had decided in her mind to risk it no farther. And thus expressed a desire to pass away from this life. She soon became entirely prostrated. I returned home to inform father and mother of her situation. They came and used their best endeavor to cheer her up and dissuade her from a wish not to live, but could not prevail. She continued to express the same desire and also continued to sink as to strength of body and spirits, and within a few days passed away. This striking result of misplaced confidence has caused me to watch with deep interest the results of like instances which have come under my observation. And almost without an exception they have resulted, if not in death, in weeks, months and frequently years of sorrow and deep regret. I therefore feel to say to most every true Latter Day Saint sisters, for your peace and happiness in this life and in the life to come, not to unite yourself with one who has no standing in the church and kingdom of God. If he profess to believe in the gospel and yet defers his obedience without a justifiable reason. Know yea that his faith is dead, and your union with him will not bring it into life, as to the gospel, but will only increase his hope in leading you away from its principles. Therefore do not suffer yourself to be devoted to him who is not devoted to God. Be not yoked with unbelievers. In the month of August this year 1841, my younger brother Justin Theodore was accidentally killed by a horse falling upon him. He was in the 11th year of age. We were now called to mourn the absence of sister and brother, and our parents to mourn the absence of daughter and son during this live. Nevertheless we did not mourn as those who have no hope of a glorious resurrection.


At the Semiannual Conference held on the 6th of October (1841) following I was called and ordained to the office of an Elder in the Quorum of Seventies, and voluntarily sent forth into the ministry in company with Elder Henry Mowerry. We took our journey eastward passed through the State of Illinois preaching by the way, until we arrived into the State of Indiana, a distance of near three hundred miles. Now the field which we had selected to labor in lay still 300 miles east, being in the state of Pennsylvania, where resided the relatives of Elder Mowerry, whom he desired to visit, and if possible convince them to the principles of the gospel. And feeling anxious to make the journey as soon as possible, we made but a passing in the neighborhoods through which we passed. Notwithstanding the many earnest requests for us to tarry and continue our meetings. Therefore I began to query in my mind as to whether or no we were doing right in making such great haste to reach any certain point, unless instructed to do so, in as much as there were many perishing by the way, who were willing and anxious to hear, and that one soul was precious in the sight of the Lord as another. I finally expressed my feeling to my companion and remarked that I had many kindred in the eastern states, whom I would like to visit, and if possible be instrumental in bringing them into the church. But as we were on the Lord’s errand I felt willing to labor in any part where there was a door open unless instructed otherwise. He replied that there would be Elders passing through so that all would have an opportunity hearing in due time. So we continued on until we arrived into the middle part of the State of Indiana. And stopping for the night in a little town called Northfield, we gave out an appointment to hold a meeting that evening. Which was soon circulated by the good landlord with whom we put up, sending out a boy on horse back with a bell which he rang as he rode through the streets crying at the top of his voice, “Mormon Preachers will preach in the school house tonight at 7 o’clock”. The people seemed to come out in mass manifesting unusual interest. The house being filled to over flowing. We had unusual liberty in setting forth the principles of the gospel which was listened to with marked attention. At the close of the meeting many came and shook hands with us saying that they were much pleased in what they had heard, soliciting us to tarry awhile with them as they wished to hear more of our doctrine. I and Elder Mowerry replied that we could not stop longer as we were anxious to get on to our field of labor in Pennsylvania. So on the morrow we resumed our journey, but we had not proceeded but a short distance when the Lord withdrew his spirit from us, leaving us as it were, under a cloud of darkness. And a spirit of despair seemed to brood over us, while the way seemed to be entirely hedged up before us. We therefore came to a halt and returning a little way from the road we bowed before the Lord in humble prayer asking to know his will concerning us. And inasmuch as our way seemed to be dark before us, that he would guide us whether he would have us to go. We arose and after a little further consultation decided to turn our course to the north. And thus taking through the forest on our left we preceded on intersecting the state road running from Indianapolis to Michigan City on the north. We now felt much relieved in spirit so that Elder Mowerry began to conclude that his family were sick, or something had occurred, which required his return home as we were bordering in that direction. So after traveling a short distance we came to a cross road running east and west. We took it to the west which turned our faces homeward. Feeling no check in our feelings continued on, and soon met a stranger of whom we made inquiry as to the people in that section with regard to religion. He mentioned several denominations which frequently held meetings in his neighborhood. We informed him that we were Latter Day Saint ministers and would like to hold a meeting in the neighborhood for the evening, it now being near sundown. Whereupon he informed us that four ministers calling themselves Latter Day Saints, came into the neighborhood and held several meetings, and had passed on but a few days since, leaving the people in a state of great excitement, being anxious to hear further, but they could not prevail on them to stay longer. He said their ministers could do nothing with them. He also informed us that there was a family by the name of Snodgrass in the neighborhood who had once belonged to the Mormons, so called, but had left them during their persecution in Missouri. He directed us to his residence. As we approached his house we were met by members of the family. They having recognized us by our mode of traveling as being Mormon Elders. We were hailed with gladness as they were anxious to have some of the Elders come into the neighborhood, who would stop and labor in that section. We now learned more fully as to those ministers referred to by our informant, whose names are as follows: Joseph Straton, David Fulmer, James Flanigan and Elisha Sheets. These elders like ourselves were pressing on to a certain point, while their labors were needed and loudly called for in the sections they were passing through. But the Lord stopped us in the way and thus we were turned to this field of labor which soon opened out to the distance of sixty miles in length. We labored in this section until the first of March (1842), having organized three branches, numbering in all sixty members. Thus the Lord blessed our labors in harvesting so many souls, which we hoped would soon be gathered into the garner, fit for the Master’s use. Elder Mowerry now felt impressed to return home to his family, while I felt to continue my labors in the ministry. And having learned that my elder brother Chauncy Warriner was holding meetings in Montgomery County on the Wabash River, some sixty or eighty miles distance, I set out to pay him a visit, before Elder Mowerry should leave, taking with me one of our converts as a companion. He having relatives in that section, who he desired to visit, in the hope of convincing them of the truth of the gospel. Upon my arrival I learned that my brother had returned home to Nauvoo leaving his fellow laborer, Elder Wilber J. Earl, with whom I made arrangements to travel and continue our labors together. And as he had need to remain a short time we arranged for him to join me at the branches where I had been laboring. And so I returned with my new convert who was somewhat cast down in his feelings by the cold reception he had received from his relatives, as soon as they learned that he had joined the Latter Day Saints or Mormons, as they were called. I consoled him by referring to the saying of the Savior that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country and among his kin folks. Upon our arrival I informed Elder Mowerry of my visit and my arrangement with Elder Earl. He therefore tarried until his (Elder Earl’s) arrival, after which he departed on his return home. While we continued our labors in the branches until sometime in May (1842) having held three public discussion with different ministers, or rather two as one. A Lutheran minister withdrew his attack in the presence of a large concourse of people who had gathered at the place appointed. He had consulted with the leading minister of his church residing in Kentucky, who came by his request to visit him, and on seeing the proposition, told him that he had no advantage of his antagonist and therefore would be defeated. We took leave of the saints and departed into the State of Ohio, Elder Earl having a brother living in the north west part of the state whom he desired to visit. We therefore made for that point, holding meetings by the way. We arrived some time in July(1842). We stayed here about six weeks holding meetings in the different neighborhoods around about in that section, after which we returned to the branches, and found them in good health and spirits. Soon after our arrival we were visited by several elders who had been laboring a short distance to the north of us on the Wabash. They raised up a branch of the church in that section. Their names are as follows: Alvin T. Tibitts, Ezra Strong and Moses Martin, James Mc Gavin. We were much pleased to meet them and learn of their success. About the fifteenth of the following October we in company with several families of the saints set out on our return home to Nauvoo, arriving the first of November 1842, having been absent thirteen months. I saw that much improvement had been made in the city and surrounding country during my absence. The basement of the Temple was in progress of erection also the Nauvoo House. Found my folks all well and pleased to be associated with them again.


I remained at home laboring with my hands until June 1844. I was then called to take another mission into the eastern states in company with Elder John Cooper on an electioneering tour in behalf of Joseph Smith, our Prophet, he having offered himself as a candidate for President of the United States. We bore with us his written document on the “Policy and Powers of Government”, which was indeed a masterpiece of sound logic, and was so expressed by politicians and men of prominence with whom we conversed. They said it was the greatest masterpiece of statesmanship and mental ability they ever saw, and not withstanding the prevailing prejudice against him, because of the dispensation God had given him.


They began to be fearful of his success in a political as well as a religious point of view. And they began with renewed diligence to stir up a more violent persecution against him by false accusations and vile charges, and issuing out rits of incitements on the false charges of his most bitter enemies. So that he was under the necessity of keeping himself alluded from their unlawful processes. But through the instrumentality of apostates, who stood high in the church, he was betrayed and diligently sought after. And thus he was sought after by his enemies having to meet the accusations of false brethren, which to him was more trying than all things else. It was under this pressure that he gave himself into the hands of his enemies, and like his Lord and Master, he was led with his brother Hyrum like lambs to the slaughter. And thus he expressed himself to his brethren, who stood by him in the hour of his trial, “I go as a lamb to the slaughter. I shall die innocent”, and so it was. He was taken with his brother Hyrum and cast into the Carthage jail, accompanied by Elder John Taylor and Willard Richards of the Quorum of Apostles. And while he was thus imprisoned under the plighted faith of the State of Illinois, by the avowed pledge of it Governor Thomas Ford, that he should be held in safety, behold the jail was surrounded, by an armed mob, with their faces painted like ferocious savages. The guard making no resistance suffered them to obtain the entrance to the upper room in which the prisoners were lodged. They fired a volley of shots through the door. Joseph, Brother Hyrum fell mortally wounded. Joseph exclaimed , “Oh my God”, and immediately sprang out at the window in the midst of a shower of balls aimed at his person by a set of demons below. As he fell into their midst, a lifeless corpse, they set his body up against the curb of the well where he fell. When four men stepped forward and deliberately shot four balls into his body. Then one stepped forward with a drawn butcher knife in his hand, with an oath that he would cut off his head, but as he lifted his hand to strike, a flash of light burst from the Heavens, the knife fell from his hand, and the four men stood paralyzed and were taken off the ground by their confederates. The whole posse fled taking their smitten assassins with them. As related by an eye witness whom they had pressed into their ranks while on their way to the prison. This was on the 27th of June of this year 1844. And is a day long to be remembered by the Latter Day Saints. Yes! and it will be handed down to their posterity and to generations yet to come, that Thomas Ford acting governor of the State of Illinois did, in violation of his plighted faith of the State, in behalf of their innocent blood hasten to Nauvoo. And having called the people together, was at the very hour and time of the horrible deed, making a speech to them in which he stated, that they would see their leaders no more, and advised them to cease gathering together, but to scatter and settle as other people do, and they would no more be molested. But on the arrival of the dispatch announcing the assassination, he mounted his horse and fled without further ceremony. And was understood to remark to one of his posse, “I did think they would have regard for my safety.” Thus it was plainly manifest that he was well aware of the contemplated deed, and thus was accessory there to. But he is now in the spirit land to await a just recompense for the deed done in the body.


I with my fellow companion had now penetrated as far as the eastern or rather south eastern part of the State of Ohio when the sad intelligence reached us. Upon which we immediately turned our faces homeward, and was soon in the midst of our afflicted and sorrowful friends to mingle our grief with theirs. The Apostles who were also absent on missions had returned. It was now a matter of much comment as to who was to take the lead or Presidency of the Church. And thus many conjectures arose in the minds of the people. Sidney Rigdon had pressed the Twelve in his return from the east, and claimed that it was his right, and endeavored to get the people together in order to satisfy his claim, by their votes, before the Twelve should arrive, but the Twelve having arrived before this was accomplished. Brigham Young, being the President of the Quorum, appointed a special conference of the whole people or church, at which it was visibly made manifest to the most, if not all present, Brigham was the chosen of God to lead his people in Joseph’s stead, in moving the cause of zion. For as he arose and began to speak to the large assembly his countenance was transformed into that of Joseph, while his voice and gestures were almost identically the same. So that some arose to their feet in amazement while many exclaimed in a low tone to those by their side,”That is Joseph! That is Joseph.” And thus the whisper ran through the vast assembly while the eyes of the multitude became fastened upon him. This manifestation settled forever that question in the minds and feelings of the saints, and thus he was nominated and sustained by the unanimous voice of the people . I being in attendance was an eye witness to of this marvelous manifestation.


The work on the Temple was resumed, with renewed diligence and with a view to its early completion. But the enemies of the church finding that the death of the prophet did not produce the desired effect of breaking up the church, and thus stop the work of God on the earth, soon became exasperated at their defeat, and again began to sally forth with writs against President Young. And failing in their design to destroy him as they had Joseph and Hyrum, they began to fall upon the saints in the settlements around Nauvoo, burning and otherwise destroying their property. Those thus destroyed of their homes applied to the civil authorities, but to no avail. Therefore failing to find protection or redress, many fled into the City. This so encouraged the mob that they began to threaten the City. So that it became necessary to call the people to arms in self defense. The mob soon began to make their attacks, so much so, that it became necessary for those who were at work on the Temple often to hold their fire arms in one hand and handle their tools with the other while prosecuting the work. The mob however were dispersed from time to time. It was under these circumstances that the Temple was so far completed, as to admit, of the administration of the ordinances, pertaining to the living and the dead. And thus many received their endowments before the City and Temple fell into the hand of our enemies. Which took place in the winter and spring of 1846, and was attended with great peril, privations and much suffering. I must however abridge my account with regard to the many instances which came under my observation during the spoilation and dispersion of the saints. And sojourn of the church across the dreary wastes of a howling wilderness, of over one thousand miles, where naught but the howling wolf, and the more savage Indian, was want to roam. Having but a scanty outfit of wagons and teams, and a limited supply of food and raiment, having had but a remnant left from the fire and sword of the oppressor. Some left their homes laid in ashes, other with their furniture remaining in them, without receiving any compensation whatever, having no available means left save a little loose property they might be able to gather up. Thus many were entirely destitute and dependent upon the more fortunate for assistance. The exodus commenced about the 15th of February (1846). The first companies crossing the Mississippi on the ice. The ensuing spring and summer was occupied in reaching the Missouri River and bringing up the more destitute to a point on the river called Winter Quarters. A distance from Nauvoo of three hundred miles. President Young with the advanced company had reached this point when Colonel Allen of the United States army over took him with a requisition for five hundred of the able bodied men of his camp to be enlisted into the service of the government against Mexico. He called a council in which it was decided to comply with the demand notwithstanding it evidenced a malicious design to strike a fatal blow at the church, while in her helpless condition, by taking from her the bone and sinew of her body. And so her able bodied men came forth from their campfire in response to the call, until the required number was full. My brother Sanford (Porter Jr.) was one of the number. Some were under the necessity of sharing the last of their scanty supply with a weeping wife and entwining children. But I cannot give but a faint outline of the multiplied incidence of privation and sufferings during the ensuing winter and spring, while in Winter Quarters on the banks of the Missouri. And which served to terminate the suffering of many whose exposures had been so severe as to render them unable to survive the tying ordeal, and thus fell martyrs for the truth. MARTYRS FOR THE TRUTH And there they now are sleeping Beneath the silent clay, To await a glorious greeting Until their work was done. And many who stood that stormy blast Have fallen one by one, So the vail of death they could not pass Until their work was done They may have swayed as a sturdy oak In the midst of shifting storms, But as the trunk could not be broke Resumes its upright form. And so we see them standing Since the storm has passed away, While age is undermining Their tenements of clay. And now they are seen to fall To arise again no more, Until the resurrections call With their friends who fell before. O what a glorious greeting With those they left behind, And saints who have been sleeping In every land and clime. They both fall upon each others necks With heavenly embrace, While tears of joy their cheeks bedeck For the Redeemer’s grace. And as they count their suffering ore With glory to the Lamb, They sing as ere they sang before Now in the heavenly land. Thou hast redeemed us from the curse And made us Kings and Priests, To reign with thee upon the earth Where all is love and peace Nothing to hurt or to destroy As when we dwelt below, Satan is bound and has no power The saints to overthrow. All enmity is done away With man and with the beast, The spirits universal sway Has brought a full release.


I will now turn from the muse that has come over me and will give a short outline of my own proceedings from the time of the dispersion from Nauvoo to the setting out upon the plains from Council Bluff. I was still living with my parents and had devoted most of my time, while not in the ministry (abroad), to opening a farm near to my fathers, and was contemplating the securing to myself a companion and settling down upon it. But alas all was now to be a abandoned. And instead of making further efforts to secure a peaceable home for myself, it became necessary for me to assist my father and brothers to escape with their families. My father succeeded in disposing of his farm for ready pay at a low figure, while I could only get part down. And in this we were fortunate above many others. I let my father and eldest brother (Chauncy) take the ready pay I had received to aid them on their way. While I tarried to collect the remainder, and so follow after them with my elder brother (John), who was also tarrying to assist his father-in-law to dispose of his possessions. We were delayed until it was too late in the season to overtake them before the inclement season would set in. We therefore remained until the following spring (1847).


I devoted the entire winter in cutting cord wood, for a party who was furnishing the steam boats on the Mississippi River, and so was enabled to add to the little I had collected from what was due on the sale of my farm. Which was very fortunate for my brother, as he had suffered a severe loss in means, through the subtlety of a notorious horse thief, who came along with a horse, leading it by the side of the one he was riding, nicely blanketed, representing it to be a race horse he had purchased at a high figure. He wished my brother to keep the horse for a short time, for which he would liberally reward him. And as he was a stranger, he might hold the horse in security until he was paid for his keeping. Not suspecting any trouble further than getting his pay, he consented to keep the horse as desired. Not many days passed away however before there came an officer with a warrant for my brother and the horse he had in his charge. This process had been brought about by a confessed confederate, who had been taken upon a charge of theft in the adjoining county, and turning states evidence exposed those of his clan. This stranger, who gave his name as Karmack, being one of the number, and so implicated my brother as being accessory. Thus he was induced to do, as the prejudice of the people was so rife against the Mormons, that even a self confessed thief or even a murderer would be exonerated of his crime if he would implicate a Latter-day Saint. He hoped to find a scapegoat in this instance. My brother however proved himself innocent, and was set at liberty of a rigged examination by the legal profession, who were employed on the occasion. This consumed time and means, so that it required all the means we both could command to furnish the necessary outfit for the journey to be commenced in the spring. This we accomplished in connection with his father-in-law, Joseph Rich, arriving at Winter Quarters on the first of June (1847)


As we drew near to the crossing of the Missouri River we met father (Sanford)) on his way down into the State of Missouri after supplies. We were much pleased to meet him and to learn that the rest of the family were alive and well. He informed us that President Young with a company of pioneers had left for the Rocky Mountains in search of a place for the Church to locate. Having given instructions for as many as could make the necessary outfit for themselves and families, to follow immediately on their trail. And that there were companies now being organized to start by the 15th or 20th of the present month (June 1847), and that he was anxious to go with them. But having suffered, with many others in the loss of stock by the severity of the winter, and (many cattle) being strayed off from the herd which formed, and taken up the Missouri River on to what they called the rush bottoms. As there were but few if any who could procure feed for more than one team, thus there was a great loss of teams and other stock so that many had to remain until another season. He (Sanford) said he would not be able to make a raise of enough to take my mother and youngest brother (Lyman). But thought, by my assistance, he and I could go and prepare a place, and then return and bring them on the next year. After some further consultation he passed on, while we continued on to the crossing. But I could not feel reconciled to the thought of leaving mother and youngest brother behind. Neither could my brother John, who was with me. We soon made the crossing and soon found ourselves surrounded by the rest of the family and old tried friends. We found our mother fully as anxious to go with us as we were for her to go. Therefore we set out with all our energies in full faith that we could make the necessary outfit to that end. So when father returned, some ten days after, I had the pleasure of surprising him with the information that the necessary outfit was well nigh completed for us to start on our journey, including mother and younger brother Lyman. This was fully accomplished in a day or two, so that by the 15th of the month (June 1847) we were again on the move with our faces set for the Rocky Mountain region.


Families moved out promiscuously as fast as they got ready to the Pioneer Crossing on the tributary of the Platte (River) called the Horn (Elkhorn), some 20 miles from our starting point. Here the companies were organized with captains of tens, fifties and one hundred. That is a captain over every ten families. There being five tens in each fifty with a captain over fifty, and this was in keeping with the instruction of President Young before his leave with the Pioneers. The object of this Pioneer Company was to go in advance of the emigration to open up the way by killing the snakes, making bridges, and searching out a country in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains, as before mentioned. With President Young at their head, they set out on the 15th of April(1847). The companies (which included the Sanford Porter family) set out on their trail on the 20th of June following. They formed into four columns going abreast as a precaution against the attacks of the Indians upon whose borders we were now entering. Leaving the Horn (Elkhorn), the trail led us on to the Platte River. After travelling a few days the trains were reduced into two columns which was maintained for near five hundred miles terminating at Fort Laramie on the main fork or rather on the North Fork of the Platte (River). From this point the companies travelled in a single column having to encounter a mountainous region during the remainder of the journey. Which was a wide contrast from the level grade of the Platte valley, bordered by low hills on either side, being now and then dotted with large herds of buffaloes, whose bellowing resembled the distant thunder. Several bands of Indians were met with. There were two or three field pieces distributed in the several companies. There was one in the company we were organized in, and being led by Captain Charles C. Rich, these were fired occasionally to deter the Indians from making attacks upon us, which had the desired effect. We were met on one occassion by a band who presented a hostile appearance as they approached us, having left their women and children in the background, while the warriors advanced carrying a red flag. Our company was soon formed into a hollow square. Seeing our position they came to a halt upon an elevated spot of ground. They sent one of their number forward, who was met by one of our men. The token of friendship was extended by shaking hands and extending the pipe. The women and children then came forward and with the men were permitted to come into our enclosure. Distributing them selves around among the company asking for bread and offering trinkets or such articles as they had for trinkets. The wagon bearing the field piece was drawn out and placed in position outside our lines to which their attention was called. They gathered around to see the curious wanton and on motioning to them they stepped back. The torch was applied and off she went. Resulting in a general stampede on the part of the Indians, men, women and children were struck with consternation for a minute or two. But (the) smiles on our faces dispelled all fear. We learned that the impression went out among them that all our wagons would shoot. No one wished to dispel the impression as it answered well to deter them from molesting us. On leaving Fort Laramie the trail leaves the (Platte) River, bearing to the south west through what was called the Black Hills. These hills had the appearance of a mountain forest, as a great portion of them were covered with scattering pines, mostly pitch pine. A few days travel brought us again on to the (Platte) River which we now crossed for the last time, and is called the last crossing of the Platte. Here the river bears to the south leading our course to the west. The trail leads on to the west after a beautiful clear stream which heads up to the north in what is called the Wind River Mountain. After following this stream for several days, the trail left it to the right passing over the (Continental) Divide between the Atlantic and Pacific slope, called the South Pass. Our feelings were better felt than described when the fact occurred to the mind that we were indeed on the backbone of the American continent. I will here note that before leaving the Sweetwater we were met by President Young and most of his company of Pioneers on their return to Winter Quarters. He informed us that they had penetrated the Great Basin of the Salt Lake in which they had selected a location for settlement, and had left a few of their number to await the arrival of the emigrating companies, and to put in a few seeds to test the soil, and were now returning to bring their families on next season. This was cheering news to us all, and it put an end to our anxieties as to where we should find a country where we could subsist and dwell, undisturbed by ruthless mobs, under the edicts of mob governors. We continued on with light hearts and buoyant spirits with out an expression of doubt as to the result of our locating in that hither to unknown region. Leaving the pass (South Pass, Wyoming) the trail led us down the Pacific slope to the Sandies being tributaries of Green River. On reaching the latter we could readily understand why it was called Green River. Its waters being of a green cast, yet remarkable clear, it being in a low stage we forded it without difficulty. It flows out of the Wind River country in the north, terminating in the Colorado, and thence into the Gulf of Mexico. Leaving this point we were lead on to and crossed two of its tributaries called Hams Fork and Blacks Forks. There was a trading post on the former stream called Fort Bridger, occupied by Mr Bridger a mountaineer of long standing in wilds of the Rocky Mountain. He said he had twenty years experience in the climate of the Great Basin of the Salt Lake, and he affirmed to President Young that it was most forbidding to agriculture, as frost prevailed during the summer months sufficient to destroy all agricultural products. And in confirmation of this statement he proffered to give one thousand dollars for the first ear of corn grown in Salt Lake Valley. All this however was ineffectual in producing the least discouragement in the mind of his inquirers. This Joshua of the nineteenth century looked calmly on the destructive elements before him, which had held universal sway in the valleys of the Rocky Mountain for ages past, and which confronted him and his companions as they arose in the early morn from their tents on the site of Salt Lake City, July 1847. While 500 wagons with men, women and children were wending their way, like Israel of old, on the dim trail left behind him, having fled from a modern Pharaoh destitute, having but a scanty supply of provisions, impelled on with assurance that he whom they had chosen to lead them would under God lead them aright.


But to return, leaving Ft. Bridger we came to Bear River, from thence to the Weber. These rivers head in the Wasatch Mountains on the east of the basin entering the basin, and emptying into the Salt Lake on the north east. On the first of October (1847) our company made the summit of the mountain on east. When for the first time our anxious eyes rested on the silvery lake and slopes intervening in the distance below. The dusty hats and the faded sunbonnets was seen waving above the heads of the occupants, while shouts of joy with admiration, ascended up as each in their anxiety reached the summit. The tears of sorrow having now fled, those of gratitude burst forth with affusion making a pathway down many a care worn face. The contrast between the long dreary sage plains, and this valley like a rose bed in the desert, was truly soul stirring. Leaving the summit the trail led down the canyon a short distance then bearing to the right passed over a ridge into another canyon called Emigration Canyon. Here we camped for the night, on the morrow we entered the valley. Passing down over a large tract of table land descending from the base of the mountain westward. We then came to a more level plain extending to the shore of the Salt Lake. We were met by some from the companies who preceded us, with some of the Pioneers who had remained, as before stated, they joined with us in congratulations for our success in reaching this beautiful vale where we could once more rest the soles of our feet in peace. We found ourselves encamped with them on the beautiful site selected by President Young for a city to bear the name of Beautiful Lake, spread out before us, and is now known through out the civilized world as Salt Lake City. A block was selected and laid off by President Young on which to build a Temple, called the Temple Block. There was a square or block of ten acres lined with half finished walls in the shape of block houses, composed of sun dried brick or adobes which these pioneers had put in rows of construction, designed for defence against the attack of the Indians, as well as shelter for wives and children. Some distance from this point stood the body of a log house put by Lorenzo Young a few days before our arrival. The labor of building was continued during the entire winter, composed mostly of logs. The season for making adobes being past. A few procured lumber by whip sawing. It was impossible however for all to obtain building material. Therefore many remained in their wagons and tents, not only during winter, but through the following spring and summer. The need of houses for women and children was keenly felt, but the need of foods was much more so. The supplies of many were exhausted before the croaking of the frog announced the approach of spring. Notwithstanding the precaution given by the authorities for all to put themselves on rations, so as not to be entirely out. A goodly number of our men who went in the Battalion returned to us destitute of provisions to share with their relatives and friends. Their return was haled with gladness by all. My brother (Sanford) was one of the number. They too had suffered untold privations and hardships. Some had now emptied the last sack of flour. A limited amount of seed grain was all that remained with many families on which they were depending for a supply in a future harvest. The God of Heaven gave us an open winter, so that our worn-out cattle improved in flesh, so that as many as could be spared from service were slain for food, and every vestige eaten that would serve to stay hunger. In many instances the fox, wolf and unclean birds or fowls, such as the hawk, raven, crane, snipe, all were sought after and obtained to a limited extent for food. And here let me say to the reader, what the Lord has cleansed call thou not unclean. All these were eaten with thanksgivings. Vegetable roots were also used for food. The wild sego and thistle were the most prominent, but could only be obtained in limited quantities. I remained with my father and family during the incoming season (1848). We weighed our breadstuff, and found it necessary to put ourselves on one fourth of a pound of bread to the head per day, else we would be entirely out before any harvest could be secured. This was the case with the majority of people. There were those who did not taste of bread for weeks and months, and thus many moved on in their labor without a single complaint. Oft times chewing sticks or pits of twigs, to soften if possible, the keen appetite which had been aroused by the taste and smell of the scanty meal set before them. Notwithstanding our strained circumstances, I believe there never was a people who pursued their labors more unceasingly, and confidentially it was rare to hear the slightest complaint or murmur. Even when the fond hope of success in obtaining sucker seemed almost entirely blighted by the devouring insect, as I will show.


For as soon as we had got the seed wheat into the ground (in the summer of 1848) and it began to shoot forth, strong and healthy in its appearance, giving us almost an assurance of successful harvest. Behold our attention was called to moving massives of insects in the shape of crickets, descending from the bench lands at the base of the mountains. They moved on towards the small patches of grain spread out before them. They increased in speed as they increased in size. Sweeping almost every green herb as they went. Their ravages in the native grass told plainly what they would do with the tender wheat in the valley below. This was soon realized as they reached the first on their way. They passed on leaving naught but the bare clods behind them. The anxiety of us all was now intense. Every exertion and stratagem to stop their progress, or turn them away from the grain, that could be thought of was adopted. Ditches were dug around the fields, filled with running water, which served to keep them at bay while they were small. But as they increased in size and age they became more resolute and determined, so that they would not turn to the right or left, but would crowd one upon another at the waters edge until some of the foremost would leap into the stream, making a desperate effort to gain the opposite bank which they would accomplish at short distances below. This feat would be followed by the gathered host in quick succession. They catch upon every stick or straw they came in contact with as they neared the opposite bank, and thus would make a full landing where they would remain until sufficiently dry to proceed on with renewed appetites for every green herb in the line of their march. Bushels of them were destroyed in divers ways, but seemingly to but little or no avail. Women and children took an active part in the struggle so that when the evening shade approached, they with their husband and fathers would retire from the scene tired and weary to deal out the scanty meal, as was the case in many instances, ere they should bow down in humble prayer as they retired to rest. Trusting in God as Israel of old trusted with apparent more reconciliation. There being no murmuring against the servants of God who in his hands had brought them out from a land of plenty. After many days of hard rolling, some became discouraged in making further efforts to save their grain by fighting them. It was but a few days more however, when large flocks of sea gulls were seen coming from the south west, and lighting down on the fields of wheat. They gathered in such numbers that the attention of the people was soon directed to their appearance. A few sea gulls were killed for food before their devouring onslaught upon the crickets was discovered, but on this being discovered an order was issued forbidding any more being killed for food or otherwise. The sea gulls exhibited a strange phenomenon—they would eat to the full, then spew them up, then repeat the gorge. Thus they made sad havoc of the innumerable foe, to the joy and admiration of God’s devoted people, in whose behalf he had sent them. The sea gulls were angelic in appearance, being white with a tip of black on the point of the wing, and almost as gentle as a domestic fowl. They did their work and departed, calling forth thanks and praise to the God of Heaven from his chosen people, for his kindness in sending the sea gulls to their deliverance, for surely they were sent by the influence of his spirit resting upon them, even as the quails were sent into the camps of Israel to save the lives of his people of that day. The remaining crops were now preserved from further molestation and so matured to replenish the exhausted store of provisions so as to carry us along for another season, by using it sparingly.


The hand of the Lord was still stretched out in the sustenance of the people, not only in food, but in raiment and implements of husbandry as well. In this instance he chose his enlisted servants–called the Battalion Boys–to be his instruments. They had enlisted in submission to a demand, by the powers that be, for the sake of his people. Rendering ample service to our government in the war with Mexico. After being discharged in California, their eyes were opened to discover the gold of that region. The event was sounded all over the nation, which caused great excitement in cities and counties around. So much so that men of capital fitted themselves up with wagons and teams, loading them with two and three years provisions and clothing, for themselves and others in their employ. Also tools of almost every description, as they were going into an unsettled country some 2000 miles distant. They set out by hundreds and thousands mostly by land. The first companies started early in the spring of 1849. The greater portions followed our trail, and arrived in Salt Lake Valley late in the fall, with worn out teams. The had an over supply of provisions with an abundance of ready made clothing, also tools and implements of great variety, such as is well adapted for colonizing a new country. These supplies they were anxious to dispose of even at nominal prices, in exchange for fresh animals, so as to enable them to proceed on their journey without delay. The exchange was made to the greatest benefit on the part of Saints, who were in actual need of those supplies, which otherwise they could not have obtained in time for their relief on so favorable terms. Thus we were supplied with flour, meat, clothing (ready made) hoes, picks, shovels, plows, axes, and hand saws at less than first cost in very many instances. This fulfilled a remarkable prophecy of President Heber C. Kimball delivered several months previous. He said that goods would be sold in a short time cheaper or as cheap in Salt Lake City as they could be bought in St. Louis, which was truly the case. For those gold seekers were wild with anticipation of untold wealth, as soon as they could locate themselves in that gold region. Goods and chattels to them were of little or no value in comparison to time, a delay was disastrous. There was a strong desire to be first on the ground. Many were anxious to exchange their team and wagon with the remaining outfit of clothing and tools, for a couple of ponies with pack saddles. Only reserving provisions enough to take them through. And they were appeased and highly elated when successful in doing so, and thus went on their way rejoicing with high anticipations. Surely the hand of the Lord was made bare in this remarkable occurrence. Which presents to the mind of every considerate Latter Day Saint the fulfillment of his word where he says it is my business to provide for my saints. Had the supply so much needed been stored in the heavens, I doubt not the heavens would have been opened. But it being the products of the earth, the earthly was opened “and the woman was saved from the effects of the flood, which drove her into the wilderness”. It surely helped her to survive. As it is written “the earth opened her mouth and helped the women who was driven into the wilderness.” Here “she” means “the Church” was surrounded with barren waste without succor, having fled from before the face of the dragon.


Well I will now refer more particularly to further incidence as time moved on. My father (Sanford) with others had located on small parcels of land, some 4 miles south of Salt Lake City on what was called Mill Creek. I labored with him until the following autumn. On November the 12th, 1848, I took to wife Rebecca Ann Cherry, daughter of Aaron B. Cherry and Margaret Yelton Cherry, in the 28th year of my age. And thus took the responsibility and obligations resting upon all those who enter into that sacred union. Which includes household affairs with its increasing necessities to be met with the naked hand of industry, coupled with economy in converting the native elements into materials of service. These qualifications, of necessity, had to be brought into requisition by us as a people, being a thousand miles from manufactured acticles. My father in law had remained in what was call the Old Fort until a short time previous to my marriage. He then located with a few other families on a small stream 12 miles north of Salt Lake City. I occupied his residence in the Fort until the following spring (1849). I then joined the same little settlement, having procured ten acres of land within their survey which all were to be enclosed in one common field. Each occupying his parcel, separately making his portion of fence according to the number of acres. A portion of the land had been put into grain the previous year with out fence, and was a battle field against the crickets as they swept down from the bench lands throughout the valley making sad havoc of the growing crops of grain and vegetables, upon which rested the only viable source for a supply of food for the entire people. The crickets swarms were swallowed up by the interposition of the sea gulls as hither to set forth. After putting in my crop and completing my portion of the fence which I accomplished by changing work (as I had not sufficient team of my own to break the ground) I set in to getting timber from the canyon for a house. I progressed very slow having to work two and sometimes three days to procure a team and wagon or cart for canyon work. However by the 10th of the following November 1849, I had provided myself and wife with a small hewed log house, or cabin. On the 15th she presented me with a fine daughter, whom I embraced as a priceless jewel in the family circle, and a delightful ornament in our new habitation. We had her blessed and the name of Sarah Jane sealed upon her under the hands of Apostle George A. Smith. My portion of land proved to be unproductive, being very much affected with alkali, so that my crop was almost an entire failure. Therefore, in the following spring (1850), I embraced the opportunity of taking up 20 acres in a new survey joining our settlement on the west, and so commenced its improvement. In this I was more fortunate. The land proved to be of a good quality. I therefore sold the former parcel at its estimated value, and applied the means on the improvement of the latter, and thus was enabled to break up the most of it the first season (1850). I also put me up and adobe dwelling house on the premises, and moved into it late in the fall. About this time my father came and took up, or rather purchased the claim of forty acres nearby and commenced to build. Making his home with me while thus engaged. On the 27th the following April 1851 my wife added another member to the family circle by presenting a fine son. We called him Aaron Benjamin, and which name he was blessed by his grandfather Sanford Porter. My brother John also took up land near to me, securing a building place joining mine, so that we were within call of each other. Other families were now added to the little settlement so that our number was sufficient to admit of, as well as to require, the erection of some public buildings for school and meeting purposes. Therefore a log building was erected on a suitable spot, which served both purposes for the time being, until sawmills should be in operation so as to facilitate the erection of more substantial and commodious buildings. I continued the improvements on my farm until the fall of the following year 1852, when a special conference held September 1st (1852). I was called to accompany my brother-in-law Elder Edward Stevenson on a mission to Europe in connection with many others.


The Rock of Gibraltar was assigned us as our special field of labor, and for that place we were set apart under the hands of the Apostles. Others were sent to various parts–to China, Siam, Cape of Good Hope, Germany, France, Southern States, and etc., but the majority to England. This was by far the largest call hither too made for missionary labor. I now set in with renewed diligence and energy to more fully complete the necessary improvements about my premises, as the time was near for my departure. Now having leased my farm for the term of three years, and otherwise arranged for the care of my family, my labors at home terminated in hanging the little gate in front of the house. On the 14th (September) 1852, while my horse was standing with saddle and bridle in readiness to convey me to the city, the instance that this was completed, I put up my tools, embraced my wife and the two little ones, commending them to God and their kindred. Bidding all adieu, I mounted the steed and soon disappeared in the distance. No more to return until after the elapse of years. With a purpose to devote all the time with its toils, hardships, privations and labors, of both body and mind in behalf of strangers in far off lands, without any earthly reward. What a strange spirit to be sure, and how strange those who are exorcised by it, to leave fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, children, houses and lands. The strong ties of affection will not stay them, much less the love of home with all its endearments. Is there any example of such devotion in the annals of history? Yes, strange as it may appear, it is to be found in that sacred history the Bible. It says there were men who left all those endearments, devoting their whole time in ministering to strangers in a strange land, travelling without purse or script. They called themselves the disciples of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He commanded them to do this, telling them that he who would not do this was not worthy of him, and therefore could not be his disciple. They believed that he meant what he said, and that not one jot nor tittle of his word would fall to the ground unfulfilled. Therefore it sank deep into their heart, and counting up the cost they made the sacrifice. This was the case with me and my fellow companions. We had chosen this same Jesus to be our Lord and Master, and had taken upon us his name, and were called as they were called and ordained as they were, and sent as they were sent to reprove the world of sin and of a judgement to come.


Upon my arrival at Brother Stevenson’s residence (14th Ward) he informed me that our outfit for crossing the plains was about completed. Consisting of a small span of mules with harness, a light spring wagon, bedding and provisions. And so on the morrow being the 15th (September 1852) having got all things in readiness, I took the lines in hand, and bidding the city with its inhabitance and all the surroundings adieu, started our little rolling conveyance eastward, while Brother Stevenson tarried to finish up some business affairs. Brother Stevenson would come on the next day and overtake the company at Echo Canyon, 40 miles from Salt Lake City, that being the point selected for organizing the company. I proceeded on with some others, and entered Emigration Canyon, stopping for the night at Brother Wilyons(?) near the foot of the Little Mountain, so called. Next morning we ascended to its summit, and as we were descending down the opposite side my wagon slid to one side and upset. I was thrown clear from the wagon and thus retained my hold to the lines, but only for a few moments as the frightened animals cleared themselves from the wagon and my grasp. The mules ran with a swift descent until stopped by those some distance in front, near the base of the mountains below. On examining the wagon it was apparent that some repairs would have to be made which would require some blacksmithing done. I therefore deposited our baggage in a suitable place near the road, as I could, and so turned face about for the city, which I made in time to intercept Brother Stevenson before his leaving the city. We had the repairs completed in time to resume the journey at about 10 AM next morning, arriving at our deposit late in the afternoon. Reloaded our wagon and proceeded on making the summit of the Big Mountain a litter after dark. Here we lodged together for the first time in our moveable bed chamber, prepared for the occasion. As we were about to close our eyes in silent slumber for the remainder of the night, we received a very loud mournful salute from a large wolf but a few rods from us. We moved on early next morning, crossed the Weber, and coming up with the company at Echo in the evening.


After the completion of organizing the company was done, we moved on numbering 20 wagons and 83 men. Crossed the Bear River on the 21st (September 1852) and Fort Bridger on the 22nd. On the 27th, we met our Sugar Company with machinery for manufacturing sugar out of beets. This was at the Pacific Springs near South Pass. Then we made the passing over (the Continental Divide) on the Sweetwater which brought us once more on the waters running into the Atlantic Ocean, on whose bosom we were destined to embark. October 2nd we killed one buffalo and camped near the last crossing of the Platte River. The 3rd being Sunday we remained in camp, held meeting and had interesting discourses from Apostle Orson Pratt and Elder O. Spenser. The former had charge of the company, the latter was chaplain. On the 9th (October 1852) we came to Fort Laramie. Here we purchased 1700 lbs of flour at 9 1/2 cents per pound. Sold six head of horses (ponies) from $10 to $30 per head. On the 15th we reached the South Platte, made its crossing and encamped a few miles below. Here we were surrounded by large herds of buffalos which induced us to stop over another day in view of supplying ourselves with meat. We were successful in killing five cows, a calf, and one yearling which we jerked. Which is to cut or slice the meat up into suitable thickness and then string them on a rope or stick. These were secured to sides of our wagon beds to dry as we went on our way. We were up late in the night in thus preparing the meat, feeling that the day had been well spent, but we were otherwise impressed before the dawn of the morning. We had only enjoyed our repose a few hours ere the whole camp was aroused, every man leaping from his wagon in the quickest possible way. The ground was trembling beneath us caused by drum of our horses feet. They were in the wildest stampede passing like arrows by and between our wagons. One became a little entangled as it was passing through. At this moment a young man by the name of Brady caught hold of the lariat that was dragging, and sprang immediately upon the animals back. And thus was soon carried into the raging mass of horses, one crossing against another as they dashed onward. By chance he discovered his own sprightly mare, a little to one side in the crowds, and with the activity of a circus rider he sprang from one to another until he secured himself on her back. This done he commenced sounding the word “who” in the mildest terms possible. As their speed slackened he eased his animal forward and got in front, thus succeeded in allaying their excitement which soon terminated in a final halt and right about face. During this time many conjectures were set fourth in camp as to the cause of the fright. The guards were summoned to throw some light on the subject. The guards increased our already apprehension that it was an Indian effort to rob us of our animals. They said a horse was discovered a little way from the band, and supposing it to be one that had strayed out, one of them went to drive it back. As he drew near it threw up its head and started for the band of horses making a rattling noise like an old bell half muffled. As it neared the band of horses they broke in mass with the horse close after them. He thought he could see something hanging to its side. The conjecture was that it was an Indian, as it was one of their stratigems to swing down on the opposite side of their horse when passing on the flank of an enemy. Some began to cast reflections on the propriety of stopping to supply ourselves with meat, perhaps if we had continued on, this would not have occurred. But now, in all probability, we were left helpless on the plains to. I note this to show the instability of man when in trying circumstances. But all misgivings were soon banished as the word came back from those in pursuit, that the stampede had stopped and all were returning. Day light was now dawning and soon our animals were again in camp with the supposed Indian raider, consisting of a horse, saddle, bridle, blanket, and a tin can hanging to the horn of the saddle which was the instrument that produced the rattling noise causing the stampede. Conjectures now arose as to the owner of the horse, who he is, and how he became dispossessed of the animal. Inquiries were made of parties met as we travelled on, but no information was obtained, and so it remained a mystery with us. The remainder of the journey was performed without accident or material harm to ourselves or animals, not withstanding the meeting on the 27th (October 1852) of some three thousand Indians consisting of men women and children. They had three hundred horses packed, and were of the Pawnee Tribe in route for a buffalo hunt. November 2nd (1852) we arrived at the Missouri River near Old Fort Barney, crossed and took dinner at an old planters. We were fifteen in number, the most of the company having crossed at Bethlehem, a little town a few miles above. On the 10th (November) we arrived at St Josephs (Missouri). Here I and Brother Stevenson having disposed of wagon and team at a little town called Savannah (Missouri), we took passage on a steamboat for Cincinnati (Ohio) by way of St Louis (Missouri). We were still in company with several of the Elders, while many had taken different routes through the States to visit relatives, all to meet in New York City. It being the point for embarkation for those going to Europe. We changed boats at St Louis, arriving at Cincinnati (Ohio) on the 24th (November 1852). Here I and Brother Stevenson stopped for a few days visiting his two brothers, Joseph and Henry, whom he had not seen for many years. They received us very kindly and were much pleased to see their young brother once more and hear from their aged mother. Although they could not endorse the principles of their faith. December 3rd (1852) we took the cars (train) by way of Cleveland (Ohio) and Dunkirk (New York) for New York City, arriving on the 4th at 12 M (midnight?). This was my first ride by rail and it seemed to me that we were flying through space with the speed of the swiftest bird, especially while on the express from Dunkirk (New York) as we were detained here until the 17th (December 1852)), waiting for a vessel direct for Liverpool (England).


We took passage on the American Union in company with 19 of our fellow companions. Fare $10.00 (ten dollars) each. At 11 AM we raised anchor and we were towed out into the channel and thence into the open sea, and thus we set afloat on the vast bosom of the deep. The tug boat returned leaving us to the encounter of wind and waves while pursuing the trackless path way into port. We were on the upper deck looking with admiration on the broad expanse before us as we were moving away in the distance from our native shore. We soon discovered swells looming up before us like unto mounds and ridges on the land. It appeared to us as though the ship would be plunged into their depth, but not so, they lifted her mammoth weight over their bosom, like a bird on the little swells of a small pond, and so our minds remained undisturbed, as we were borne up and down over the swells. But not so with our stomachs, they were becoming very much disturbed by the motion of the ship. This disturbance was general with us, but only individually manifested, as one after another cast the disturbed element out upon the surface of the deep, and quietly descended down the hatchway to his berth, to the amusement of his companions, who were more or less under the same influence, which terminated in a like result, so that the deck was abandoned by us to a place below, more suited to our condition, from which the majority were relieved in a few days, not having any more disturbance of that character during the voyage. We arrived in Liverpool on the 5th of January 1853, all well, having been 19 days upon the water, which equals our number. Having experienced sea sickness, storms, and gales without accident or material harm. While passing the custom-house examination we were met by several of the Elders who had arrived a few days before us. They directed us to a brother by the name of Trowley, who kept a boarding house billed the American Home. There we met several families of saints from different parts of England, on their way to the home of the saints in Zion, from whence we came. They were pleased to see us and learn of the peace and prosperity Zion. We sat up till quite a late hour conversing with them on various subjects. After retiring to bed my mind was filled with reflections on the past and future. I thought of the protecting hand of the Lord that had been over me and my Brethren. How the winds had been turned or modified at our request, in fulfillment of the blessings pronounced upon our heads. I also thought of my family, and the promise in my blessing that I should have knowledge of their situation, by visions or dreams or ministering of angeles. After these reflections had passed through my mind I sought for sleep, but it had gone from me, leaving me under the influence of the Holy Spirit which filled my heart with thanksgiving and praise to God for his abundant goodness unto me, from the earliest period of my life.


Finally the clock struck two. After which I fell asleep, and was caught away in the visions of my mind, as it were, on a swift beast, across the mighty deep with the speed of light. I saw the sea but for a moment, ere the dry land was passing beneath us but for another moment, and I was at my home but a few rods from the house, where I dismounted from the most beautiful horse my eyes ever beheld, onto a plot of the finest grass my feet ever touched here in the flesh. Its texture in softness was like unto silks of corn. I took off the saddle and bridle, put the saddle down upon the grass with the bridle upon it. As I took off the bridle I stroked my hand along its back, bright sparks or flashes followed as my hand passed along on a texture of hair as soft as that on a mole. Here I left the fine steed to graze as free as the air through which we had passed. I had no fears of his going astray. I went into the house, saw Father and Mother, shook hands with them. Then looked and saw my wife standing at my left, shook hands with her, she looked well. I then saw the children lying in the cradle asleep. I went to them, as I drew near Sarah awoke. I say, “Do you know Pa”? She seemed a little shy. I smiled and said, “Don’t you know Pa”? She says “Yes”. I took her and embraced her, then took up little Aaron and embraced him. They were quite well. I talked with Father and Mother inquiring as to the welfare of the family. They said the boys (brothers) with their families were well, also my sister Nancy. I told them that I must soon go back, but they seemed to take no notice of the remark. I thought to myself is it so? I then looked at my self and saw that I had my body, yet I thought it was in Liverpool. I and Father stepped out of doors. I looked around and after conversing a short time I turned back into the house and told Mother that I must soon go, that my body was in England. My wife was present, but neither of them seemed to understand. I stepped again to the door and looked at my hands and felt of myself. My hands seemed to be a little smaller than usual and soft as a child. I then stepped back into the house, and saw my wife lying in what seemed to be a cradle. I went to her and taking her by the hand raised her up in a sitting position. She looked pale and reduced in flesh. I asked, “Are you sick?” She answered, “Yes”. I said, “Do you wish me to administer to you?” She answered “Yes.” I then laid my hands upon her head and blessed her, closing with these words, “Thou shalt live and bare children. Amen.” In an instant, as it were, I awoke from the transient visit with the most singular sensation I had ever experienced. A prickly sensation went through my system from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, as though my body had become benumbed. And as Paul said of himself at a certain time, whether in the body or out of the body he could not tell, so it was with me. A portion of this dream has since been made manifest and the balance will be in due time here after.


We remained in Liverpool (England) until the 11th (January 1853). We had our clothing replenished with new suits. We received a quantity of books through President Samuel Richards from the office for which we became responsible. We procured them for the Mission. We left London by way of Leistershire, where Brother Stevenson had some relatives, whom he visited. During our stay of several days, or rather weeks, during which I took a train through the Leister Conference in company with Elder Robert Beine, the traveling Elder of the conference. I was kindly received and well entertained by the Saints. There were about 40,000 inhabitants in the City of Liester. Tuesday, February 1st (1853) we resumed our way for London. We arrived at 7 pm, and were put up at Brother Armstrong’s, 15 Jewin St. He was the book agent for the London Conference. Here we met with Elder James Brown who came with us from the valley. We had been separated since crossing the plains. He was now pastor over the conference. We also met Elders Jesse Haven, Lenord Smith and William Walker, who were on their way to South Africa. We remained here 11 days visiting the saints in this great metropolis, viewing her magnificence and vast population, who throng her streets and public thoroughfares. London skies were clouded over the entire horizon, made so by fog and dense smoke. Sitting down under this heavy atmosphere required that the street lamps are lit up day after day for several days. On the 11th (February 1853) we took the cars for South Hampton, the point of our embarkation for Gibraltar. Here we met with Elder James Wille, who also came with us across not only the plains but the sea also. He was now President over the Southampton Conference. We stopped in this conference until the 29th (February 1853), visiting the branches of the saints who contributed in furnishing means for our passage. Having now sufficient means we engaged passage on the steam Packet Iberia. Cabin fare was 9 pounds each. We were provided with the means to meet this, but we were desirous to make a saving so as to have a little surplus after our arrival, to meet any emergency that might arise in defraying expenses. We therefore applied to the captain of the Packet Iberia for a steerage passage. Representing ourselves as ministers of the Gospel, having no salary, travelling as a rule without a purse or scrip, and now having limited means, we were desirous of obtaining cheap rates. After some further conversation he said he would give us a steerage passage at 4 pounds each but he said, “It will be rough fare. You will have to furnish your bedding. Your food will be such as the crew have.” This we were aware of, and so engaged the passage on those terms. We purchased a mattress and blankets and went on board. At 2 PM we steamed out of the docks while a number of the brethren and sisters stood on shore waving their hats and handkerchiefs as a farewell token of their feelings and desires in our behalf. Thus we bid adieu to the shores of old England, and the saints with whom we had formed a short but very agreeable acquaintance. We passed out of the Southampton Bay through what is called the Needle. So called, by the land closing in with high cliffs of rocks on each side forming an entrance, something like the eye of a needle. Thus it is frequently called the Needles Eye. We soon found ourselves once more on the bosom of the great deep. We soon found that we had a fellow passenger on board in the person of a Mr. Willis whom we met. While walking on deck and conversing with him, we learned that he was a resident of Gibraltar. He was in the employ of Her Majesty as overseer in the dock yards, and he was now returning from a visit to his friends in England, and being short of means had taken steerage passage. We informed him that we were in like circumstances financially and thus were his fellow passengers. He expressed his surprise as he had taken us to be those of the cabin, and were only on deck for recreation and observation, judging from our appearance in dress. We informed him that we were ministers of the Gospel and were on our way to Gibraltar as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, better known as Mormons. The principles of our faith were then entered into to some extent, which occupied the remainder of the afternoon. As night came on we still remained on deck walking to and fro until the Cabin Passengers were at supper. Then going to the cook room asked of the cook an interview with the chief steward. He readily invited him up and gave us an introduction. We informed him as to who we were, our object and the pecuniary circumstances under which we were prosecuting that object. And if it would not be asking too much we would solicit you for a place to make down our bunk in the cabin. He was very favorably impressed. Saying that it was too bad that we should be confined to the deck. He said they were very full in the cabin, but he would see what he could do for us. He invited us to take supper in the cook room, which we accepted with thanks. After supper he came up, and said he had arranged for us to occupy a state room, and to fare equal with the cabin passengers with the exception liquors. We tendered him our hearty thanks, remarking that we had a friend on deck. He replied, well bring him along, I will arrange for him as well. And thus we gave our new made friend another surprise, by the unexpected invitation to take free lodgings with us in the cabin, and free fare at the table. Surely the hand of the Lord was made viable to us in providing for us those comforts without money and without price. (Praise him all ye people.) We were conducted into our rooms and made welcome to their conveniences, which to us were very gratifying. And as we lay down our hearts flowed with thankfulness to our Father in Heaven. We arose in the morning and made our selves ready for breakfast at the call of the bell. We were seated with the cabin passengers around the well furnished table without any interrogation from anyone. We encountered quite a rough sea while passing across the Bay Biscay. We passed along near the coast of France laying on our left. We touched at Vigo (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal) and Teadize (Cadiz, Spain) located on the coast of Portugal. Lisbon is her capital. Here I and Brother Stevenson went on shore, visited the Queens Palace Garden and walks. Spending a few hours very pleasantly and interestingly as the manners, customs, architecture and building materials differed more or less from our observation in other countries visited.


On the 8th of March (1853), early in the morning, we were on deck gazing on the Fortress of Gibraltar, the field of our labors for a season, if permitted so to do. We looked upon her towering rock mounted with cannon on every side, the key to the Mediterranean Sea. We disembarked with our friend Mr. Willis, he having ordered a conveyance to take him to his residence. He invited us to put our luggage in with his and accompany him to his home. We gladly accepted the invitation, and thus made our way into the garrison with our friend as a guide, which deluded the guards and sentinel at the gate from recognizing us as strangers from any foreign land or clime. So we were permitted to enter through the gate without any questions being asked as to our nativity, who we were or from whence we came, and so we were not under the necessity of obtaining a pass, which is required of all foreigners who wish admittance into the Fortress. We soon learned that we could not lawfully hold public meetings without a license from the Chief Magistrate. In taking the proper steps to obtain this we were brought to the notice of the authorities as Mormon missionaries. Consequently our application for the license was held under advisement until the local ministers of the established churches could be consulted. In the mean time we were put under a rigid examination as to our nationality, and as to how I, claiming to be a foreigner, came into the garrison without a pass. I explained that I was not so instructed nor so requested by the officer at the gate. That ended any further inquiry on that point. He said I would not be allowed to remain in the garrison without a permit. Brother Stevenson claimed to be citizen by birth, as he was born on the Rock. This he sustained by producing the certificate of his christening, obtained from the Methodist Church Record. I applied and obtained a permit to remain in the garrison fifteen days, not to be renewed was inserted. Finally an answer to our application for a license to hold meetings was received. They refused to grant us a certificate, or any right to hold meetings in the garrison as guaranteed to ministers of the Gospel. Being now barred from holding public or even private meetings, we went to and opened our little library of books and tracts, and began distributing the latter from house to house, conversing in a private capacity with the people, which somewhat awakened a spirit of inquiry. I in the mean time applied to Mr. Sprague, the American Council, for a renewal of my permit, as the term was almost expired. On his failing to do so I made a formidable demand in the name of the American Government for a renewal of my permit, or tell me the reasons why it should not be renewed. Otherwise they were to supply the means for my conveyance to her shores (American shores). Mr. Sprague said he was not authorized to comply with the latter request. I replied, “Are you not authorized to render assistance to an American subject under such circumstances?” He replied that he was for sailors, but not for citizens. Remarking that he had paid passage for two sailors to New York but a few days ago. I replied that I did not understand why there should be a discrepancy on account of occupation in as much as both were American subjects. To this he made no reply. But said he would make another effort to obtain a renewal of the permit. I withdrew and made my way to the General Ship Agent to ascertain if I could obtain a steerage passage on a steamer then in the Bay. The ship was on her way from Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) to Southampton (England). I with Brother Stevenson were impressed that my right would not be granted. As I approached the office of the agent, I met him as he was leaving the office. I kindly informed him that I desired a passage on the steamer then in the Bay, to Southampton, and I inquired as to the fare. “Nine pounds” was the hasty reply. I asked “Is there no cheaper fare?” “There is not” was the reply. “Well” says I, “I am a man placed under unfortunate circumstances.” “If you want a passage say so, if not say so, that is all the fare there is” was the abrupt reply. “Very well sir, if that is the case I shall be unable to obtain a passage.” I meekly replied. And each of us turned on our way. As I opened the gate to depart his voice reached me in a very mild tone. “See here stranger, please step into the office. I will be back in a few minutes.” I retraced my steps with new hopes, feeling that the Lord had touched his heart. I seated myself in the office. He soon returned and taking off his hat said, “I beg your pardon I spoke abruptly. It is granted,” was my reply. He took his seat, “Now” says he, “what can I do for you?” “Well” says I, “as I was about to relate, I am placed in adverse circumstances.” I then informed him of my ministry, the object of my visit to the Fortress, my treatment, and final denial of the rights guaranteed to a foreign subject, and also of my application to the American Consul, and his failure to secure unto me those rights. He listened to my statement with attention and apparent interest. Then said that he had no reason to doubt the veracity of my statements, but as I was a stranger he would like to see Mr. Sprague, the American Consul. This I heartily endorsed. He said there was no steerage passage on the Chart, but under the circumstance he would give me a steerage passage at four pounds, which was the best he could do. This I was able to meet without leaving my companion destitute of any means to continue his efforts in disseminating the gospel among the people. As I was returning to our lodgings to inform Brother Stevenson of my success, in the effort to obtain a renewal of my permit or a passage for my conveyance away, I was about to call on the Consul and inform him of my visit to the Ship Agent, and of his possible call upon him. But the spirit bade me not to do so lest he should excuse himself in ceasing his exertions to obtain my rights, under a sense that I had means for my conveyance away. But that I should go on my way, get ready and then call on him, and thus he should be left without excuse. I did so and informed Brother Edward Stevenson of my visit to the Consul, and his promise to make another effort to get a renewal of the permit, and my visit to the Ship Agent, and apparent success in obtaining a cheap passage on the steamer now in the Bay. Elder Stevenson says “It hangs upon a thread. You will have to go, but I will stay awhile longer and trust in God for the result.” He assisted me in gathering up my things and accompanied near to the Consul office, stopping at the residence of Mr. Smith, and old acquaintance of his Father’s. Here he tarried with my little baggage awaiting the result of my last visit, which I now was prepared to meet. As I entered the Consul’s office he arose from his seat and saying, “Well, I was just going to see the Chief Magistrate. Please sit down. I will be back in a few minutes.” He left having but a few yards to go. He soon returned, and on entering the door held up a pamphlet in his hand saying, “This is the reason you are not permitted to stay. You have been distributing tracts, and thus caused disturbance among the churches.” “Ah, indeed” says I, “I was not aware that there was a law prohibiting the distribution of religious tracts and references to the Holy Scriptures. Please, is there such law?” His countenance dropped with the reply, “No, not that I am aware of.” “And is there any precedent to this charge? Has any person or persons been prohibited from such distribution?” “No sir, not that I am aware of.” “Then sir, why is this brought against me as a charge?” I looked him straight in the eyes. He replied, “You know what it is.” “Yes” says I, “you mean to say it is religious prejudice.” “Yes” says he, ” that is it. The governor consults the ministers and favors them against any thing prejudicial to their welfare religiously.” I replied by saying, “That had nothing to do or has no bearing in the justice of my case. It is in violation of his oath of office, resting upon that sacred document the Bible. That in his office he would administer even handed justice as the law directs. And now sir, I take an appeal to a higher tribunal.” I discerned that he thought I had reference to the Queen’s bench. I meant that court which holds all earthly tribunals responsible for their acts. I rest my case there where there is a just recompense meted out to all. As I arose to depart he says, “Well if you have to leave will you call again?” I replied, “if I have time I may. But you know my time is short.” The steamer was to leave at 2 PM. I returned to where I left Brother Stevenson and informed him of the final results. We then went to the office of the Ship Agent and secured my passage on the terms specified at my former visit. We then went down to the dock where I embarked in a small boat and was taken out to the steamer packet. Brother Stevenson accompanied me to the side of the steamer where we shook the parting hand under circumstances to us very trying. We commended each other to God, trusting that in his providence we would meet again in due time. I watched his return to the shore to enter again that forbidding Fortress, whose rulers had rejected us and forbid our testimony being sounded in her halls or on the corners of her streets. This was the 1st day of April 1853. They doubtless thought we were both leaving their quarters, but were April Fooled when they saw him again within the walls. I soon found myself steaming up the Straits of Gibraltar, with perhaps a final adieu to Gibraltar and the Great Mediterranean Sea. I felt somewhat lonely without friends, and no where to lay my head, having no bed or bedding to spread down on the lonely deck as the darkness of night came creeping on. I stepped into the cook room and informed the cook that I was a deck passenger, rendered so through adverse circumstances. I gave him a short narrative of my visit to Gibraltar, its nature being ministerial and the result as now manifested by my presence on deck. He had mistaken me to be a cabin passenger. I saw that his sympathies were enlisted, as he invited me very kindly to take supper in the cook room. Informing me that he would see the chief steward in my behalf. I thanked him for his kindness. While I was eating he went below soon returning with the steward, whom he introduced as such. I gave him a short rehearsal of what I stated to the cook. Soliciting if it was not asking too much, a berth in the cabin. He replied that they were full. So much so that he and the cook had to bunk on the table, nevertheless he would do the best he could for me. He says, “Remain on deck until the passengers have retired. I will then let you know.” I thanked him for his manifest kindness, and resumed my walk on deck with anxiety for a favorable result in my behalf. The wind was now quite piercing, so that the heat from the smoke stack was relieving as I drew near them, which induced me to give them a short call (visit) at intervals. At length the voice of the steward came from the hatchway saying, “Your birth is ready.” This dispelled every doubt, and then I was soon descending down the hatchway with a thankful heart. I was cited (shown) to my bunk located on a couple of benches placed together for the purpose. Upon these benches were spread a number of blankets which I found to be very soft and pleasant as I entered within their folds. My gratitude now became so intense that I could only give vent in a flow of tears. Suffice it to say I enjoyed cabin fare the remainder of the passage.


Upon my arrival at Southampton (England) I informed President Samuel Richards, then President over the British Isles Mission, of my rejection and return from Gibraltar. I placed myself under his jurisdiction to labor in any portion of the mission he might designate. I was soon appointed to labor in the Reading Conference, near London. After laboring here fifteen months, I was removed to the Essex Conference, still more adjacent to the London, the great metropolis, to labor under the Presidency of Elder Martin Slack. This was a small conference embracing but a few branches. After laboring here for a few months I received an appointment to labor in the Trent Conference under the Presidency of Elder Thomas Brodrick. I labored here not to exceed three months when I received an appointment to take the Presidency of the Wostershire conference as the successor of Noah T. Guyman who was released to return home to Zion. Upon my arrival at the conference house in the City of Woster, I found Elder Guymon busily engaged in making preparation for his return home. And considering that he had not time to accompany me through the Conference, in visiting the branches personally, he sent one of the travelling Elders to introduce me to the Saints in the Branches, as they should be called to meet me, and I was desirous of ascertaining the spirit and condition of the saints, as a conference, temporally and spiritually. I learned from Elder Guyman that the conference was financially embarrassed in meeting expenses, which had been accumulating for years under the presidency of his predecessors, and were still accumulating. He informed me as to the measures adopted by those who preceded him to meet the necessary expenses. These measures he had carried out with the same results in the indebtedness being increased. I remarked that some other policy must be adopted, otherwise the conference would become insolvent. He said he had given it a good deal of thought, but had not been able to hit upon anything that was better than that which had been adopted, which was to collect from the saints quarterly at the quarterly conference during the year to meet the yearly expenses. Not having been able to collect sufficient at the quarterly conference the debt has increased. Having visited all the branches in the conference I returned to the conference house in deep meditation and anxiety, to know the best policy to pursue and to prevent any further indebtedness accumulating. And if possible reduce the amount that had accumulated. I found the saints in poor circumstances financially, receiving very small wages in return for their labors which is the case in the agriculture districts. I saw plainly that they could not meet a call requiring shillings and pounds, which was the case in raising the amount at the end of the quarter. Therefore on my return I again consulted with Elder Guyman as to what measure was best to adopt that would be more successful. He said he could think of none and would leave it with me. I retired to bed with a prayerful heart desiring the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As I lay reflecting it occurred to me to divide the conference into two districts, and hold monthly Priesthood meetings in each district. And have the teachers in each branch visit the members each Sunday morning, asking a donation from a half penny to a sixpence or shilling, as their circumstance would permit. And require those teachers or the president of the branch to bring in these donations to the Priesthood meetings to my care. As I came down stairs next morning Elder Guyman says, ” Well Brother Porter how did you rest?” I replied, ” Quite well after I got to sleep.” I told him what had occurred to my mind to do. He said he believed that would be more successful, but it would be very laborious for me to attend those Priesthood meetings which begin biweekly. “Yes” says I, “I am aware of that. It will take due diligence to accomplish it.” “Well you can do as you think best, said Elder Guyman, “but I would not undertake such a task.” “Well” says I, “I will submit the matter to the Pastor Dills. (He being pastor over the Woster, Chalthem and Birmingham Conference.) Therefore when he came I called his attention to the indebtedness of the conference, and the policy that had been followed by my predecessors for years with unprofitable results, in their accumulation of indebtedness on the conference. I then informed him of the change I contemplated making under his sanction. He heartily endorsed it with instructions to go ahead. Having now full liberty I went to work and divided the conference into two districts, so far as the Priesthood meetings were concerned. I made my appointments for holding the meetings. Then instructed the presidents of the branches to have the teachers visit the members each Sabbath morning, and solicit contributions from a half penny up, as they felt to do or as their circumstances would justify, and not confine themselves to receiving only, but to impart to them the good things of the gospel. The good results of this policy was soon made manifest by a semi-monthly remittance to the Liverpool office, which I was enabled to make in pounds, out of the accumulation of pence, twopences and sixpences from the hands of the good saints who felt a relief from any call for money at the quarterly conferences held during the year. And so the little dropping in went on until the last quarterly conferences. At the close of the year (1855) in which was presented the financial report, including the full amount collected and disbursed during the year. And to the surprise and joy of the saints they learned that almost the entire indebtedness of the conference was cancelled in the disbursement, by the remittances to the Liverpool office of 60 pounds. Leaving 5 pounds that had been used by the Book Agent, which he failed to replace. Thus the saints had not only paid off the conference debt, but had sustained four travelling Elders, instead of three as hither to, besides emigrating no less number of saints than the previous year. I took an expression of the assembled saints to know if they had felt the financial burden heavier during the present year than those of the past. They were unanimous in the expression that they had never felt it so light. Which was truly the case not with standing more than double had been collected. Having now been released to return home to zion, I began to make the necessary preparations for my departure, which occurred about the first of January 1856, in company with several of the American Elders and some 300 saints. We moved out of the Liverpool (England) docks with our faces zion-ward!


We arrived in New York after a passage of thirty days having been somewhat delayed in calm and head winds. Sea sickness was prevalent at the commencement of the voyage. I having taken a very active part in waiting on and administering to the sick became exhausted, so much so that I became prostrated as we arrived in New York. And thus was left in care of Brother Beasdon at his residence in Williams Burg of that city (New York), and under the cognizance of Apostle John Taylor who was there editing a paper called the Mormon. I remained here for six weeks, during which I was visited by Elder Taylor and several of the elders and saints who administered to me the ordinance of the gospel as I desired, bestowing their kind attention to my welfare. I however became so low that all seemed to despair of my recovery. I besought the Lord that he would spare my life to return home, for the sake of having my body laid with those of the saints in zion, instead of the wicked in that corrupt city (New York). While I was thus anxious in my feelings there came a whisper saying, “Are you better than your Lord and master? Was he not numbered among the transgressors?” The answer came in a moment. “Nay Lord, I am nothing in comparison.” This brought a feeling of reconciliation. I was now ready and willing to have my body laid whither-so-ever the Lord saw fit, and to go or stay as seemeth him good. The Lord saw fit to make this fact manifest to me. Showing that I was indeed reconciled to his will. I saw in a dream a messenger from the spirit world who had come for me. I was within the company of the saints who had just landed with me and were now leaving the shore to take the cars (train). I began shaking hands with them and bidding them farewell, while the messenger was standing by my side in waiting. The last to bid adieu was one of the elders with a valise in his hand. As he went up from the shore I turned to see the messenger who was some six feet in height, in so doing I saw a man coming in full speed on a white horse. As he came up I recognized him to be Daniel Spencer, who gave me a returning blessing after my release to return home, in which I had the promise that I should return and again enjoy the society of my family and friends in Zion. He stopped suddenly at my side, and leaning towards me placed his hand on my shoulder saying, “Brother Porter, you will not go to the spirit world now. There are many of the saints who have become cold and lukewarm. We want you to go and stir them up and prepare them for Zion.” I replied that I was willing to do anything the Lord wanted me to do. “Well,” he says, “we want you to go.” At this I looked the messenger in the face to see what he would say. He bowed his head in token of his consent. At this I asked him if he would be so kind as to remember me to Brother Joseph and the brethren there. He again bowed his head, and I awoke with an assurance that the time of my departure to the spirit land was changed, so far as the present call was concerned. And thus the way remained open for the promised blessing to be realized in mortality, coupled with a mission in the midst of the saints, having for its object the renewal of the diligence of those who have become careless in discharge of their duties in the observance of the laws of the gospel. For without this no one is prepared for Zion, after her redemption. Having had the above manifestations and ministrations I began to recover very fast so that I was able to join the last company of saints who arrived from Liverpool, about the 15th of April (1856). I continued to gain strength as we proceeded on by rail. Soon arriving at Iowa City (Iowa), it being the point of outfit for the plains. I was surprised to find many of the former company, who were my companions across the sea, still on the campground. On inquiring the cause of their delay, I was informed that the hand carts ordered from St. Louis had been delayed, and finally their purchase abandoned, under the impression that they could manufacture them with less cost, and so they were now constructing them.


Now the mode of crossing the plains was in light carts drawn by hand. This method was adopted by the recommendation and counsel of the First Presidency, which with wise management bid fair to be a success. But otherwise a failure which proved to be the case in this instant, by adopting the policy that would cause a prolonged delay at so late a date in the season. It being the first of August (1856) ere the camp ground was cleared of its occupants. With 1300 miles before them, 300 miles of which we made in passing through the state of Iowa. Arriving at Council Bluffs (Nebraska), September 1st (1856), which brought us on to the borders of the plains. Here a council was called by those having charge of the emigration including the captains of companies. The council took into consideration the propriety of undertaking to cross the plains so late in the season. A decision was rendered in favor of continuing on without further delay. Two manifested their disapproval, one declined going any further, the other submitted to the majority and continued his services. I felt to some extent the weight of the responsibility, having been appointed to assist Elder Benjamin Hodgit (Hodgett), who was in charge of one of what was called Independent Company (of which there were two, one in charge of Elder John Hunt). The Independent Companies were composed of those who furnished their means for their outfit in wagons, teams, and provisions. At the same time assisting those of the handcart companies, who were mostly supplied through the Emigration Fund. I was not in the council above mentioned, as I was not invited by those in charge. I felt delicate in doing so at the solicitation of Captain Hodgit (Hodgett). My own feelings according to my judgment, was not in harmony with the decision of the council. Nevertheless I felt it my duty to comply with the request of those who were placed to direct the work in which I was engaged. And thus I endeavored to use my best energies to make a successful trip across the extended plains before us, notwithstanding the lateness of the season. (A detailed account of the trek to Utah by the Hodgett and Hunt wagon trains and the Martin handcart company can be read in the book Rescue of the 1856 Handcart Companies by Rebecca Bartholomew and Leonard J. Arrington. Published by Brigham Young University, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.) All moved on in proper distances between the companies on account of feed for our animals. Elder Hodgit (Hodgett) and myself took into consideration the propriety of lightening up the weight on our wagons, and thus increase our speed without jading our teams. Feeling that it was needful for us to do all that we could, even at a sacrifice if necessary, in accomplishing what was needful. We were impressed to call the company together and show unto them our condition, and dependence on the Lord too stay the storms from overtaking us. And that it was our duty as his children to use all the means within our reach to accomplish what is required of us, and then if more is necessary he will come to our aid. Therefore, we had a proposition to make to them. The proposition was for us to unload our wagons and take the clothing out of our heavy boxes, and but them into sacks which we could prepare for that purpose, and thus make the burden on our teams more easy so as to increase our advance on the way. And as to our boxes and chests, we would make a bonfire in token of the sacrifice we were willing to make to gain the desired blessing. The proposition was unanimously sustained by vote on the part of the brethren and sisters. All went to work overhauling their wagons, emptying their boxes, putting their contents into sacks and bundles in the best possible manner. Thus we made our way on with more ease and greater speed. The handcart company was in our rear under care of Elders Mosses Martin and Daniel Tylar (Tyler). Captain Hunt’s company was in their rear. Thus the handcart company were between the Independent Companies, having as it were a front and rear guard. Captain Hodgit (Hodgett) and myself spared no pains in selecting campgrounds where the best feed could be found for our animals. By so doing our teams were kept in good condition. And it was for the care and regard we had for those more dependent ones behind, that held us from making longer marches. As we drew nearer to the mountains region there was now a noticeable change in the temperature of the atmosphere. The water in the streams were very cold, making it a very painful task for men, and much more so for women and children to wade in crossing them, which was the case with those in the handcart company. November (1856) was now passing in her cool days and chilly nights, and ere we made the last crossing of the Platte a snow storm was upon us. We made the crossing the night before. As we arose in the morning we saw there was an approaching storm, and by the time we were in readiness to move on the snow commenced falling. I was aware of a place three miles up the river where there was low grassland surrounded by high bluffs, and was well supplied with grass and timber for fuel. I remembered this place from when I came with the missionaries in 1852. We therefore decided to make for that point and wait the result of the storm. (Red Bluff, Wyoming. 65 miles of Devil’s Gate)


At this juncture the handcart company made its appearance on the opposite bank at the crossing (North Platte River). We instructed the company to move on, that we would stop and see the handcarts cross and soon overtake our company. They had just commenced crossing as we rode up. It was not a pleasant scene for us to behold. Women and children wading above their knees in the cold piercing element. We hastened across on our animals and began taking them one by one behind us across the river. The wading soon stopped. They huddled like sheep awaiting our return as we made each trip. We never failed to return without a blessing pronounced upon us, in addition to ones we had already received. All the handcarts being over the river, we proceeded on and overtook our company which had passed on to the place we had selected to stop in till the storm was past. We found it well adapted to our conditions, there being plenty of grass and fuel, surrounded with high table land and thick bunches of willows interspersed in the little cove. Thus it was a covert from the bleak winds of the plains that was now driving the falling snow. Here we rounded up our wagons, pitched our tents and gathered some wood for the camp fires ere the day closed in. I wonder how it is with the handcart company. They must of remained at the crossing. I wish they were here with us. This was frequently expressed during the evening as we sat around our fires. We arose in the morning with about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Elder Hodgit (Hodgett) returned to the crossing to learn the condition of the other companies, Elder Hunt not having come up when we left, and inform them of our success, and invite them up to share with us. There being a supply for all. He (Elder Hodgett) found the handcarts still in camp at the crossing, Captain Hunt having crossed soon after we left. The handcarts were very much exposed to the severity of the storm which we scarcely felt. They listened with gladness to his report and readily excepted the invitation, but as it was still snowing they remained for the rest of the day. On the morrow our men turned out and met them, and assisted those with handcarts in pulling them into our quarters and shovelled away the snow, and pitched their tents as, some of the men had become almost exhausted and benumbed. The cold having increased several degrees as the snow ceased falling, being about a foot on the level. It was a trying time with us, on man and beasts. It proved fatal to two of the handcart company during the night and one the following day. They fell with their faces zion-ward to await the resurrection day. After being here several days we were met by two of the brethren from the valley, who informed us that men with teams and provisions were coming to our assistance, and would meet us at Devils Gate on Sweetwater 30 miles ahead. This was joyful news to us and especially so to those of the handcart company who had been on short rations and now very much exhausted from exposure and fatigue. We lost no time in moving on the best we could to meet our brethren at the point designated. The snow had settled to about 4 or 5 inches. We were two days in making the point, arriving late in the evening in a terrific storm of wind with intense cold, which continued all night and the following day and night. It was under these trying circumstances that we met our brethren, who had come from the valley to our relief, so far as it was in their power. But alas there were quite a number of our handcart company whose physical powers were so far exhausted as to be unable to endure more. And so they fell asleep in death until the morn of the first resurrection. This was a tying hour indeed. Nevertheless there is consolation in knowing that they lay down with their faces zion-ward in full faith and fellowship with the saints. While some who survived them in those hardships to become associated with the saints in Zion, have drifted away from the path of the gospel into darkness and the spirit of unbelief. Better they had fallen with their brethren in the light of truth. But to return—a council was called to consult the best method to take to save life at any sacrifice requisite. It was decided that those of the Independent companies should cache all their luggage accept what was really necessary for the remainder of the journey, and thus turn over to the use of the handcart company a portion of their teams and wagons so as to convey them on as fast as possible. This decision was unanimously sustained by a prompt compliance. Brother Dan Jones with three other brethren were left in care of the cached goods. While the now Dependent companies proceeded on receiving further aid from the valley as we advanced. Our teams had become jaded and reduced that on arriving at Green River and Fort Bridger they were left with some of the brethren at those points to chance their surviving the winter. While we proceeded on with horse and mule teams sent to bring us through into the valley. Thus on the 15th of December 1856 I arrived safe at my home in the embrace of wife and children, also my aged parents and friends after an absence of four years and three months.


I soon learned that a general reformation was in progress among the saints throughout the valleys, in which the First Presidency took a most prominent part, laboring incessantly in stirring up the people to repentance and renewed diligence in keeping the commandments of God. Elder Jedediah M. Grant was so wrought upon under the influence of the Spirit, that he went forth among the saints laboring day and night until his natural strength became exhausted. So much so that he was prostrated upon his bed to rise no more until the morn of the first resurrection, and thus he passed the vale while his words remained as live coals in the altar in the hearts of the saints, so that they came forth in the waters of baptism, confessing their sins before the Lord and each other. Now the saints were being stirred up to renewed diligence in the service of God.


The gentiles who had come into their midst as merchants, lawyers, and judges were stirred up by the influence and power of Satan, to send forth lies and misrepresentations to the General Government with vile accusations against the Mormons. So much so that an army was sent up against them by the executive of the nation, James Buchanan, with the vowed intention to slay their leaders, break down their institutions, and lay waste their habitation, and so make an end of Mormonism. This crusade was sent forth in the fall of the following year of 1857. President Brigham Young was then acting governor of the territory, and thus called out the militia to stop the invaders from entering the mountain passes into the valley, and thus we went forth in the strength not of our arms, but of Israel’s God to meet the enemy. President Young sent a dispatch to their commander, stating that they might come so far but no farther, at the peril of their lives. They were so enraged on receiving the announcement that they threw their hats into the air and swore by the Gods that they would go into Salt Lake Valley in spite of Brigham Young and all hell. Never the less they did not come into Salt Lake Valley by force of arms but as a conquered foe they came in and passed through the city in silence and unmolestation, after having passed a cold and dreary winter amid the snows of the mountains. They found Salt Lake City and valley without inhabitants of Mormons or beast. The word of the Lord having come to the people to leave their houses and lands and go southward, and if need be return and put the torch to their cities and towns, making an utter desolation before the face of the enemy. This decree and firm resolution on the part of the people and their leaders was conveyed to the executives of the nation, which caused them to pause and reflect. A commission was sent to make an investigation of the reported outrages of the Mormons, which on investigation proved to be entirely false. This fact terminated any further hostilities, resulting in an unconditional pardon from the Government, on the part of the Mormons for the defensive position they had taken against the forces brought to bare against them. And it was by stipulation that those forces were permitted to pass through Salt Lake City, to a place selected for their quarters some 30 miles to the Southwest known as Cedar Valley. This done, all those who had left their homes were privileged to return and possess them again in peace. Their willing sacrifice was excepted of and returned to their credit in the book of remembrance before the Lord, and thus his hand was made bare in behalf of his people. We were brought off victorious without the shedding of blood. There was continual peace from this time forth, so far as armed resistance was concerned. Nevertheless our religious and political liberties were assailed by lawyers and judges, the latter being sent by congress to hold judiciary powers in the execution of the law.


In the year 1860 congress passed a law making polygamy a crime, which law was in violation of the Constitution of the United States. This caused much comment by the press through the land. Some attempts were made to enforce it but to no avail. Now while these efforts were being made on the part of these officials to bring about oppressive measures, we as a people were engaged in home industries, building up towns and cities through out the territory penetrating into the adjoining territories on either side.


In the following year, 1861, a Civil War was in actual operation between the Northern and Southern States. It arose from a division on the slavery question, and ended in the death and misery of many souls, in fulfillment of the prophetic declaration of Joseph Smith, the prophet, as found in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, resulting in the defeat of the Southern States in 1863. Tens of thousand having fallen in the terrible struggle. And during all this, Utah and her people were left to rest in peace from the force of arms under which they had suffered so much. As to myself during these periods, I was principally engaged in my domestic affairs, cultivating the soil as a livelihood, and in support of my family to which I had added another partner, in the person of Eliza Ford, daughter of John Ford and Rebecca Ford. Eliza has born unto me 11 children to present date 1883. (Nathan and Eliza were married 13 April 1857.)


In 1869 a railroad was completed running across the continent, passing through Salt Lake Valley to the Pacific Coast, affording great facilities of travel and transportation of products of every kind. And with it came also modern civilization with its attendant evils introduced by the many unprincipled incomers from abroad, including the whore monger, adulterers, thieves, gamblers, and the defamers of the laws of God and the rights of man. These became associated with the saints to a more or less extent. So that many fell into the snares and gins that were thrown into their path, to the overthrow of some from the faith of the Holy Gospel, and then drifted into darkness and unbelief.


In the fall of 1869 I was called with others on a mission to the Eastern States. During which I visited some of my relatives in Erie County, State of New York, who were residing on the old homestead of my Father, where my eldest brother (Chauncy Warriner Porter) was born. My cousin Chauncy Currier pointed out to me the spot where the house was erected in 1812, also the apple orchard in which some of the first trees still remain as old sentinels, with their huge trunk of over two feet in diameter. Here I met with my father’s sister, Aunt Sally Richardson, of over eighty years of age. She was in her widowhood. Uncle Philo Richardson having been dead for a number of years. They had no children. Cousin Chauncy was the son of my Father’s sister, Susan Currier. They were both dead. I visited Buffalo and the Niagara Falls, returning again westward by way of Cincinnati and Chicago having paid a short visit to my wife’s (Rebecca Ann Cherry) relatives in Pendelton County, Kentucky. During my stay in Cincinnati and having with me my companions Elders E.T. Clark and E. Stevenson, we held meetings wherever we could meet, with an opportunity to proclaim the principles of the Gospel, which was very limited in consequence of prejudice and infidelity prevailing in the hearts of the people. We returned home in time for the annual Conference of the church on the 6th of April. The following spring, 1870, I was then appointed a home missionary. This with the labor required in support of my family, occupied my time for the following two years. I was then called to take another mission being in the month of June 1872, in company with my old companion Elder E. Stevenson this was also the Eastern States. This however was short embracing some three months. Elder Heber C. Kimball, first councilor to President Young, had now passed away to the spirit world to unite with Prophets and Seers on the other side of the veil. Elder George A. Smith, cousin to Joseph the Prophet, was called and set apart to fill the vacancy in the Presidency.


 I will here refer back to the death of my mother, Nancy Warriner Porter, (which occurred on the 2nd day of May 1865) age 73 years and eleven months, having been a very kind and affectionate Mother and faithful saint. Thus we were left with our aged Father to sorrow in the loss of her society. But not without a glorious hope and a comforting assurance of meeting her in the morn of the first resurrection, if we like her endure in faithfulness unto the end. Having conveyed her remains to its resting place in the cemetery at Porterville, the place of her residence. We returned to our homes to resume the cares and responsibilities of this life. Three years had surely elapsed ere we were called to part with our eldest brother Chauncy Warriner. He died on the third of March 1868 at my residence in Centerville. While on his return home from the Endowment House, Salt Lake City, accompanied by his two wives. Having received their second anointing, which was extended to those who had born the heat and burden of the day and were worthy. He had received a severe cold while on his way from home in Porterville, some 30 miles distant, which all efforts in faith and ministrations failed to remove. And thus the word of the Lord was verified in this instant, as he remarked to me several times during his short illness, that in all his former illness he had obtained faith to be healed, but now he could not obtain any assurance. The Lord says, as will be found in the Doctrine and Covenants, he who has faith to be healed shall be healed if he is not appointed unto death. I have no doubt this was the case with him. He was appointed unto death and so could obtain no assurance of being restored to health. A few minutes before his departure he was setting up in his chair conversing with me on the principles of the gospel. I fearing he would become too much exhausted asked him to lay down on the bed again and rest awhile. He said he did not feel very tired, but consented to lay down. I assisted him onto the bed and as his wife was placing the covers over him I turned away, but had taken but a few steps when she called to me to come and see Warriner. I was immediately at the bedside, only to see one gasp and he was gone without moving a muscle. Thus he fell asleep to come forth in the resurrection of the just, leaving a numerous family to mourn his departure. And so the mortal remains of Mother and brother are now resting in the cemetery at Porterville, Morgan County.


In the spring of 1869 the great continental railroad was completed across the continent in two divisions, called the Union and Central Pacific, forming a junction at Ogden City, 27 miles north of Salt Lake City. My brother Lyman Wight Porter, took passage on the Eastern portion called the Union Pacific, to the state of Missouri to visit our eldest sister Melinda (Malinda) Chipman, whom we had not seen for many years. The object in view was not only to visit her and learn of her welfare, but to assist her to come and remain with us in our locality, as she was separated from her husband (Ezra A. Chipman), with her two sons. My brother gave her a hearty surprise on his arrival at her residence, as soon as he revealed his identity to her, which was not long delayed. She expressed her great joy in once more seeing one of her Father’s house after so long an absence. She gave an outline of events that had transpired with her since she left in Lyman White’s company for Texas, soon after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum. After exchanging notes of events that had transpired since being separated, he informed her of the full object of his visit, which was very agreeable to her feelings and desires. A disposal was soon made of the property she had for sale, so that she, with her son Sanford, was on their way with him for Salt Lake Valley to meet the rest of her Father’s household, and aged Father still standing at their head in the flesh. We were all much pleased to meet her and welcome her and our nephew to our mountain home, to enjoy with us the society of the saints and partake anew the spirit of the gospel with its gifts and blessings. She soon renewed her covenants by rebaptism and received her endowments in which she had much joy and consolation. Our reunion however was of but short duration, terminating on the 17th of December the following year 1870, by the shaft of death after a short illness. And thus with Mother, and brother, her body rests in the grave until the dead in Christ shall awake.


It was a little over two years before we were again called together in sorrow to take a farewell gaze upon the remains of our venerable Father, Sanford Porter, whose spirit took its sudden flight on the morning of February 7th 1873 (9 Feb 1873), without any prostration of the body until the fatal moment. Having arisen from his bed he stepped to the door, and on returning he lost his balance, caught hold of a chair and sank to the floor, and was gone in a few moments without uttering a word. And so he passed away as he had often remarked that he thought he should, as his Father had, while in apparent good health. We laid his body down in the silent grave with Mother, brother and sister. Trusting that we, through the grace of God, would live as they had lived, true and faithful unto the end, and with them be accounted worthy to come forth in the resurrection of the just.


I will now refer the reader back to the date of my return from the European Mission (December 15, 1856), and will note some of the events relative to myself and family during the before mentioned dates. I did not occupy my farm until my return from the move south as the time of my renter was not up until the following spring. (Note inserted: Johnson’s army was sent to the Salt Lake Valley to imprison the Mormon leaders and bring an end to Mormonism. Brigham Young asked the saints to move south, and prepare to burn their homes, so there would be only desolation before the army.) I now however took possession and resumed my former occupation in cultivating the soil and laboring diligently in the support of my family, and contributing in aid of public affairs to the best of my ability. On the 15th of October, 1861, we were called to mourn in the loss of our eldest daughter Sarah Jane, aged 11 years and 11 months, after a short illness. This was truly a trying hour with us, but were consoled in the assurance that she was at rest in the paradise of God. She was our first born by my first companion Rebecca Ann Cherry. It was only a little over two years before this great trial was repeated in death of our little daughter Eliza Ann, her mother’s name sake (Eliza Ford, second wife). Age 2 years and 6 months. This occurred on the 21 of May 1863. Having endured these afflictions we were again blessed with health and peace during the following years of 1864-5-6-7-8 during which I was acting as Superintendent of the Centerville Sabbath School and home missionary. These labors in connection with those devoted to the support of my family occupied my constant entire attention. But alas on the 6th of September 1869 we were again visited by that monster death, severing from us another loved one in the person of our little daughter Nancy Rebecca, age one year and 8 months.


On the 19th of November (1869) following I was again called to go on a mission to the Eastern States in company with Elders E. Stevenson, E T Clark and others as before mentioned. In the month of June 1872, I was again appointed to go on a mission to the Eastern States in company with my old partner Elder E. Stevenson, and we spent the remainder of the summer and fall. Returning in time to attend the October Conference, having held meetings as circumstances and opportunities would permit, which was quite limited owing to prejudice and the busy season of the year. I again resumed my labors as home missionary among the saints in Zion, and attending to secular affairs at home. The years 1873-4 passed in peace and quiet with the people and the saints. Nevertheless efforts were frequently made on the part of lawyers and judges to harass President Young with vicious lawsuits, by stirring up litigation in his domestic affairs. Succeeding in the person of his divorced wife Eliza Ann Webb, terminating in a suite for alimony which subjected him to cost, and a temporary imprisonment for a few hours in the penitentiary. This diabolical action on the part of the judge (James McDean) was foundation for articles by the press in the public journals abroad. On the 5th of September 1875, the Church was called to suffer the loss of its esteemed Counselor to President Young in the death of Elder George A. Smith. He lived as he died true to God and his people, and now rests with the just. This caused a vacancy in the presidency which was filled in the person Elder John W. Young. On the 5th of April 1876 at 5 o’clock pm, an awful explosion of the arsenal occurred on Arsenal Hill near the city (Salt Lake City) on the North. Several lives were lost and the shock was felt forty miles distant. Windows were shattered, glass fell in broken fragments throughout the city, while rocks composing the arsenal buildings were hurled like cannon balls through the roof of buildings at a longer distance. The cause of the explosion was unknown. The arsenal grounds have since been relocated some 4 miles north of the city, near the hot springs, and a new building erected. The annual Conference of the church convened on the following day being 46 years since the organization of the Church.


The following year brought the most striking event to happen with the church since the death of Joseph the Prophet and his brother Hyrum. It occurred on the 27th of August in the demise of President Brigham Young (1877) at 4 o’clock pm, after a short illness. Telegrams were sent to all parts of the territory announcing the sad event. Flags were unfurled at 1/2 mast in the principle towns, and in many private dwellings flags were draped in mourning. Expressive of the bereavement of the entire people of the Church. Yet a calm serenity seemed to prevail in every breast, which was in striking contrast with the sudden shock and anguish of spirit at the ruthless manner in which his predecessor was taken from their midst. The funeral was held on Sunday, September 2nd (1877) and was attended by far the largest assemblage ever witnessed in the church. The services were solemn and impressive the most profound silence prevailed through out the multitude. Eighteen thousand people viewed the corpse as they passed through the isles of the Tabernacle. The coffin was encased and laid in a stone vault on his private premises, then to await the morn of the first resurrection. The Presidency of the Church, as in the death of Joseph once more rested on the Twelve Apostles, with John Taylor as their president, and was presented as such at the ensuing conference the 6th of October 1877, and unanimously sustained as such. There now seemed to be a pause in the efforts of those who were active operators against the Church and its authorities. They were under the impression no doubt, that the church would now be thrown into disunion in the choice of a successor to fill the all important position. For to them there was not a man to be found who could wield the same extent of influence over the entire people as Brigham Young. But one year had not passed ere they were convinced to the contrary. And so began to renew their attacks by stirring up litigation against the Church by inducing some of the heirs of Pres. Young to sue for property in the hands of the trustee in trust of the Church. A position which Elder John Taylor now occupied. Also suits were instituted against polygamy in which Pres Taylor was made the main object, and thus he was brought into the gap and stood their fire with the same firmness that was characteristic of his predecessor. (The Journal of Nathan Tanner Porter ended here) Recorded on the last page of Nathan Tanner Porter’s Journal was the following entry: Centerville March 21, 1878 This is to certify that Elder William Major died at my residence in Centerville, Davis County, Territory of Utah, March 2nd 1878. Age 70 years and 13 days of English birth (dates not known). Also his wife departed this life in Centerville, Davis County, October 31st 1875. Age not known. Being English birth. Being his second wife. (The name of the first is to me unknown) They having passed away with their endowments. I wish them remembered and administered for in due time and a minute made of the same. N.T. Porter


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