Noah Packard (1796-1860)

Packard, Noah, 1796-1860
Autobiography (1796-c.1860)
Typescript, HBLL
My father’s name was Noah, who was the son of Eleaser Packard. My mother’s name was Molly Hamblen; her parents given name I do not know, nor the date of their marriage, but they emigrated from near the city of Boston, state of Massachusetts, into the town of Plainfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, where they were married and had eight children born to them, in the following order: Irena, daughter; Iran, son; Molly, daughter; Sarah, daughter; Chilion, son; Olive, daughter; Noah and David sons. I being the youngest but one, was born May the seventh A.D. one thousand seven hundred and ninety six. I lived with my father until I was twenty-one years of age during which time I received a common school education. I will here state that my father was one who assisted in the revolutionary struggle with Great Britain in obtaining American liberties; he was in the American Army at the taking of General [John] Burgoyne and his army and has ever been a firm supporter of the Constitution of the United States of America. The principles of American liberties and her Constitutional rights grew up in my bosom with my growth never to be eradicated.

At the age of twenty-one I left my father’s home and traveled on foot and alone, to the state of Ohio, town of Parkman, Oeauga County, where I became acquainted with Sophia Bundy, daughter of Ephraim and Eunice Bundy. Sophia was born in South Hampton, Hampshire County, state of Massachusetts. They emigrated to Ohio in the year 1816 and on the 27th day of June A.D. 1820, I married Sophia Bundy and helpmate indeed she was during her life, and we lived an agreeable one. My business for a livelihood was chiefly husbandry. Though I frequently embarked in other business, but was generally unsuccessful and finally concluded it best to stick to my farm, which I did until I had sixty or seventy acres of land cleared and a good bearing orchard of the best grafted fruit, and more enjoying life, had a deed of about 120 acres of land, a log house and a good frame barn.

This brings me down to the 35th year of my age, during which time neither I nor my wife had ever made any profession of religion; yet a member of the Baptist Church who lived neighbor to us, thought we were good enough to join their Church and requested me to do so; but my answer to him was that if I knew that I was the best Christian there was upon the face of the earth, I would not join any church under heaven, and that there was something wrong and that the sects of the day were not right and that they would go to meeting and put on a long face on the Sabbath, and on the next day would go home and cheat their neighbors and that such a religion I did not believe in. Notwithstanding this, I had a reverence and love for all good people having been in my youth, religiously instructed by my parents.

My father never joined any church although he prayed daily in his family. My mother belonged to the Congregational Church.

In the year 1831 a rumor was in circulation that a gold Bible had been dug out of the earth; and hearing the preachers of the day rail out against it, I believed the words of the Savior were about to be fulfilled in regard to false prophets and teachers arising in the last days, who, if it were possible would deceive the very elect. In the fall of this same year a man by the name of William Jolly and family moved into the neighborhood; who I was informed, were believers in the gold Bible. I felt in my heart to pity them, and told my wife we would go and make them a visit; accordingly as soon as they commenced conversation on the subject of religion, quoting the words of the Savior in regard to false prophets and teachers in the last days; on hearing this, Mrs. Jolly went and placed a stand in the middle of the floor and put a candle and a large family Bible upon it and said, “Now to the law and testimony.” When she immediately turned to the passages of scripture I had quoted and read them, and applied them to the sects long extinct upon the earth, which I could not refute. I immediately commenced searching the Bible and found that in the last days God would set His hand the second time to gather Israel from all the earth.

About this time Mrs. Jolly presented the Book of Mormon to me and asked me if I would read it; I told her I would, and took it and carried it home and placing the book against my forehead asked secretly the Lord if that work was His, He would make it manifest to me. I then opened the book and commenced reading aloud that my wife might also hear it. We read it through and I commenced reading it the second time and the Lord poured out His spirit upon me and the scriptures were opened to our understanding, and we were convinced that the Book of Mormon was a true record of the Aborigines of America containing the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ which was to come forth at the time of the restitution of the house of Israel.

Accordingly I and my wife were baptized in the town of Parkman by Parley P. Pratt and were confirmed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under his hands and Hyrum Smith’s hands, the day I am unable to state, but think it was between the first and fifth of June 1832. Between this time and January following I went to Kirtland and was ordained a priest under the hands of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and Sidney Rigdon.

About this time Joseph Smith accordingly on [?] the third day of January 1833 we started on our mission and traveled to the town of Chatham, Medina County, Ohio, to my brother, Iram Packard’s, tarried with him one day, but could raise no excitement in his mind to investigate the work of the Lord. Next day we started for home again and on the 22nd day reached home again having traveled 163 miles, held seven meetings, conversed with several persons which paved the way for several to come into the Church, among whom was Truman Shirtliff, cousin to my wife. During this short mission I was greatly blessed with the Spirit of the Lord and could stand up boldly in our meetings and bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon.

From this time to the 22nd day of April, I remained at home preaching occasionally in the vicinity. Then I started with Elder William Pratt on a mission to the east, he being sent by Joseph Smith to take me and go east. Accordingly on Monday, April 22nd, 1833, I started with Elder William Pratt on a mission to the east, without purse or script to proclaim salvation, or the gospel to my fellowmen, as I was priest and Brother Pratt an elder, I held myself subject to him; we traveled all the week and did not try to hold any meetings. On Saturday night arrived at Westfield, Chautaugua County, New York, where there was a branch of the Church. Sunday 18th, attended meeting and met Elder John Gould, William Cahoon and Amasa Lyman; had a powerful meeting; the spirit of the Lord rested down upon us and the people, and there were fifteen that came forward and were baptized by Elder Gould and confirmed to the Church under our hands. Here I also met Elder Gladden Bishop for the first time, who I immediately perceived was not in possession of a spirit congenial with the Spirit of God.

The Elders present perceived that Brother Pratt and I should do but little good traveling the manner we had done; called a council to decide what should be done with us; the Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon the council and revealed that which I knew no other man knew, but myself; whereby I became reconciled to my fate, which was that William Pratt should return to Kirtland and that I should be ordained an elder and take Brother Childs, a priest, who lived in Chardon, 30 miles east, and go on to the east.

Accordingly, I was ordained an elder under the hands of Elder John Gould, May 6th, 1833, and took Brother Childs for a companion and traveled with him as far east as the town of Hector near the Susquehannah River to the house of John Young, brother to Brigham Young. This brings me to June 17th, having traveled with Brother Childs one month and ten days, having held twenty meetings, and prayed with and laid hands on two sick persons who by the power of God were instantly healed, but refusing to obey the gospel they were again afflicted and I left them in the hands of God. Brother Childs thought it was not his duty to travel any further east as his family needed his assistance; accordingly, he stopped at J. [John] Young’s and went to work.

As I was young in the ministry, I had desired a good smart elder to go with me to the east; but now I was left alone; but what was lacking in a smart companion, the Lord made up by pouring out His spirit upon me, whereby I was able to confound any that came before me to oppose Mormonism or the gospel. From this place I traveled on alone, and arrived at James Bisbee’s, my brother-in-law’s, (he married my sister Molly) who lived in MacDonough, Chenango County, New York, where I commenced preaching on the 23rd of June; held 12 meetings, baptized sixteen persons into the Church and laid hands on a sister who was in great pain from a broken bone; by the blessing of God the pain immediately left her, and I will here state a few days previous to this preaching near the head of Seneca Lake, a woman invited me to her house; she had a child that was very deaf, as I passed him standing in the yard, I laid my hands upon his head and asked the Lord to heal him, which was done, for which I felt to thank the Lord.

July 15th I left MacDonough and went to Plainfield, Hampshire County; preached several times in different places in the place of my nativity, but none seemed disposed to obey the gospel. I commenced my return to the west and reached MacDonough again on the 26th day of August, preached several times, ordained one elder and one deacon; organized the branch and left MacDonough for the west September 2nd, and reached my home in Parkman on the 25th and found my family all well; for which I felt to thank the Lord, for the blessing upon me and my family. I had traveled 1782 miles on foot, held 72 meetings, baptized 18 persons, organized one branch of the Church, ordained one elder and one deacon. From this time to the 25th of May 1835, my labors were principally on my farm and presiding over the branch of the Church in Parkman and traveling and preaching in neighboring towns. During which time I built me a good frame house, traveled 220 miles, held 26 meetings and five persons were added to the Church.

On the 25th of May 1835, I went to Kirtland and on the 27th under the approbation of Joseph Smith and the authorities of the Church, started to the east again on a mission preaching the gospel during which mission through the blessings of God, I succeeded in establishing a small branch of the Church in the town of Cummington, Hampshire County, state of Massachusetts, and ordained two teachers and returned on the 14th of September to Parkman; found my family all well; having traveled 1740 miles and preached 42 sermons.

Immediately after my return, I obtained a chance to sell my farm, for the first time after I embraced the gospel, and gladly disposed of it, for the sum of $2200, it being the first offer and all I asked. I immediately moved to the town of Kirtland and commenced laboring on the House of the Lord, having turned in a span of colts for the building of same, and at the dedication of the house, I donated four hundred dollars to discharge the debts which had been contracted to build the House [Kirtland House]; in the meantime on the 13th day of January 1836, at a council over which Joseph Smith, the Prophet, presided, I was ordained a high priest and a member of the high council in Kirtland and continued in that office as long as I lived in that place.

Late in the fall of 1836, I left Kirtland for Missouri, but consequence of poverty, I was obliged to winter at Wellsville on the Ohio River. I will here state that while in Kirtland, Ohio, in endeavoring to build up the kingdom of God, and spread the gospel, I became so reduced in poverty that I had to live some time principally on potatoes and salt, yet I enjoyed myself well because of the Spirit of the Lord that was poured out upon me; and made several short missions preaching the gospel in the county, and the counties roundabout, having traveled 252 miles and baptized nine into the Church.

Early in the spring of 1837, I left Wellsville and met the Church at Quincy, Illinois, at the time it was driven from the state of Missouri. From Quincy I soon after moved to Hancock County and in May 1840, I moved to Nauvoo, having been appointed councilor on the 7th of April previous, to Don Carlos Smith, president of the High Priest Quorum and remained his councilor during his lifetime. At his death George Miller was appointed to preside over that quorum, and on the 14th of October 1840, I was appointed to be his councilor and remained in that office until the Church left Nauvoo for Salt Lake Valley on the first day of July 1847.

I was again called upon to take another tour, preaching and on the 6th day of that month, I started in company with Hiram Hoyt; my route was through Cuaugo [?] to the east through the northern part of the state of New York into Vermont and Massachusetts, and returned through the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St. Louis to Nauvoo, where I arrived on the 16th day of December following, during which time I settled difficulties in several branches of the Church; about a dozen persons were baptized and I traveled 3,431 miles; from the above date to the 22nd of August 1842. I labored to support my family and in assisting to build the [Nauvoo] temple.

When I was called upon by the Twelve Apostles to take another mission to the east, I got ready and started on the 19th day of September in company with Lyman Shirtliff, Titus Billings and Brother Allen. I was taken sick near the Wabash River in Vermilion County, Illinois, where I tarried until November 24th when I had so received my health that I started on east alone; my companions having gone on at the commencement of my sickness. During my stay in this vicinity I held 15 meetings, baptized one and left a good impression on others. During this mission I preached in various places until I reached the city of Lancaster in the southern part of Ohio where I got an appointment in the city hall and preached to a full congregation, after which a gentleman came to me and asked me if I would hold a debate with a Campbellite preacher who lived in that place; stating that he wiped out all the preachers that came his way; I told him I would upon parliamentary rules and speak one-half hour each alternately. The gentleman went immediately and saw the preacher and brought back word that he would meet me on these conditions and that I might choose my own subjects for debate; accordingly, I proposed the three following questions: (1) Is the gospel preached by this generation except by the Latter-day Saints? (2) Is there such a work as the Book of Mormon foretold in the scriptures, to come forth in the last days? (3) Are the Latter-day Saints the false prophets and false teachers described in the scriptures or the other sects of the day? The time was set, the people assembled and chose their judges, and I opened the debate.

In January, 1845 I was again called upon to take a mission in the state of Michigan as an agent for the Church to collect funds for the building of the temple. I started on this mission the 27th day of January, 1845, and after traveling 1,161 miles and holding 22 meetings, baptized one and collected about $225 in property which was delivered to the tithing office in Nauvoo. This is the last time I have been called upon to travel up to this time for the purpose of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and the building up of the kingdom of God in these last days upon the earth, having traveled in all about 15,000 miles, preached 480 times, and baptized 53 into the Church. These journeys were mostly performed on foot with a valise on my back and always started on the forementioned missions without a cent of money in my pockets, according to the revelations of God, and if any of the elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in traveling to preach the gospel, have gone hungry, so have I; if any have traveled with sore feet, so have I; if any have been seized and put out of towns when speaking to the people, so have I; if any have, through the hard-heartedness of the people, been obliged to lie out of doors in the night, so have I. Which was the means of my sickness spoken of in this history, and which broke my constitution and have never got over it and probably never shall.

In the fall of 1845 I was again taken sick with chills and fever, and was unable to do a day’s work for eight months. During this time in the winter of 1845 and 1846 notwithstanding my sickness I went into the temple in Nauvoo and received my endowments by washing and anointing and was sealed to my wife Sophia for time and all eternity, and afterwards we were anointed the second time a king and queen in the kingdom of God which anointing in the reality is the third pointing with which I have been anointed in the name of the Lord; for I received my first washing and anointing in the House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio, and had neglected to mention it in its place.

At the time Brigham Young and a part of the Church left Nauvoo for the west, I was sick and had no team or means to move with, yet I sent three of my oldest sons to help them along; two of whom returned to help me; the other, Henry, went on to California being one of the Mormon Battalion. I will here state that while living in Ohio my wife Sophia bore to me seven children. Six were born in Parkman and one in Kirtland, in the following order: Noah 3rd, my oldest son was born April 24th, 1821. Orren was born December 25th, 1822, Henry was born May 6th 1825, Sophia Adelia was born October 1st, 1828, Milan was born October 7th, 1830, Nephi was born July 1st, 1832, Olive Amelia was born February 5th, 1837, being five sons and two daughters.

In the spring of 1846 after my oldest son had returned from assisting the brethren I had succeeded in making a raise of fifteen dollars in money with which I moved up the river to the state of Wisconsin to try my luck in the lead mines; soon after arriving in the town of Hazel Green, Orren, my second son, returned from helping the brethren to Winter Quarters and I had recovered my health sufficiently that I had begun to labor moderately. Before leaving Nauvoo, Noah had married Esther Phippen and my oldest daughter had married William Wallace Menary. They were there with me in the mines, where we labored for about four years, when on the 22nd of April 1850 we started for Salt Lake Valley except William and his family. But for the want of sufficient teams, was obliged to leave Noah and his family, near Council Bluffs where they all are at this time, 1857.

I arrived with the rest of my family in Salt Lake Valley on the 18th of September, and met my son Henry returned from California. I immediately took a job digging a millrace on the Jordan, and pitched my tent there until about the 10th of Jan. Then went to Salt Lake City, stayed there about 15 days and then started for Utah County and on the 5th day of February arrived at Springville and pitched my tent there, and after living in my wagons and tent about one year and eight months got a house built and moved into it. . . .

I have been called to mourn the loss by death of my second son Orren by being run over with a loaded wagon; he died on the third day of November 1852 and also my wife Sophia who died on the 30th day of August 1858; her life in all probability was shortened by over-exertion in taking care of the sick in the move that took place that season from the north to the south. One more circumstance I will mention which I forgot to mention in its place. There was a call made for minute men from the Silver Gray County to be ready to march at a minute’s warning against our enemies which were then approaching us. Volunteers were called for, but none stepped forward; whereupon I then being captain of that body immediately stepped forward and offered my services and prepared myself to start at a minute’s notice, feeling determined to lay down my life for the Church which may God grant, I may ever feel to do in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.