Of my early days I shall say but little. My father was a farmer, and blacksmith at which trade he sometimes worked; my parents were both honest and industrious people and in my seventh year they moved to the city of New York.
My parents were not connected with any church but were Bible readers and believers in that good book and taught their children to observe its teachings. More especially was this so with my mother who took great care to teach them the New Testament, the contents of which she seemed to know thoroughly. We were sent to Sunday School and there our lessons were always in the New Testament, the lessons at first a verse then as we advanced several verses and finally whole chapters were committed to memory. My mother always assisted in these studies and before we started for Sabbath School heard our lessons recited that we might be perfect in them. The care my mother took to teach me in my childhood these lessons for Sabbath School has been of the greatest worth to me.
When I was old enough my father apprenticed me to a Mr. Flender, a wheelwright, and on the 11th day of September 9, 1822, I commenced my apprenticeship. Mr. Flender had a goodly number of apprentices, some of whose time was nearly expired and others not having served so long, so that there were boys whose ages varied from the oldest apprentice of 21 to me, the youngest not yet fourteen.
I was first put to work in the blacksmith shop and kept in that shop until I had learned that branch of the business thoroughly. I then learned to make wheels. When I had learned these branches of the business I was put to work at other parts or branches, until I had thoroughly learned to do every kind of work that was done in the shops which was all kinds of coach and carriage buildings.
When I was between 16 and 17 years old, I met with a severe accident. I was using the broadaxe and as I was stepping upon a block with the broadaxe in my hand, I struck my right knee against the point or corner of the axe which made a very deep cut but not a long one. I paid no attention to it for a day or two but it became so painful that I had to go to my parents’ home where I was confined to bed for a period of five months. During this time a counsel of physicians was called to consult together and they decided that amputation above the knee was necessary. To this I would not consent and with the blessings of the Lord, my limb was saved and I soon was able to return to work.
My fellow apprentices, as well as myself, had to work very long days in summer, and in the short winter days we worked from daylight in the morning until nine o’clock at nights using candle light. Those were long and tedious years of toil, but youth is ever bright with hope and joyous anticipations as we looked forward each week for the Sabbath, when we could go home to see our parents our brothers, sisters and friends. After spending Sunday, we must return to Mr. Flender’s about nine o’clock Sunday night to be ready for work on Monday morning.
During these years my father and mother gave me good advice and expressed their pleasure in that I observed it. My mother upon one occasion said to me, “I am proud to be able to say you have lived to be eighteen years old and there is not a stain upon your character.” It gave her the greatest of pleasure to be able to say this of her boy. In June 1828, my mother died, and shortly after her death I bought out the remaining portion of the time of my apprenticeship, and went to work in another coach-building shop. On the 9th day of November, 1828, I married Miss Margaret Merklee. I continued work at coach-making until my brother John–who had served out his term of apprenticeship in the grocery and provision business–commenced in business for himself and persuaded me to join him in co-partnership. We opened two stores in New York City and done a thriving business. We were doing so well that we opened another store and placed a friend of my brother John in it. This store was in Patterson, New Jersey.
We soon found that we had spread our business out too far. Had we been satisfied with doing well in the city where we could attend to business ourselves, all would have been well with us but we were young and ambitious and had to learn by experience. About this time, 1830, a failure of banks and business houses took place, some of the largest business houses in New York failed, and we failed with the others. We could not meet our obligations because those indebted to us could not meet theirs. I felt keenly our situation.
Now I began to realize what adversity really meant. I felt ashamed to meet anyone. Some of those persons who had courted our society when we were flourishing in business, now that adversity had overtaken us, would pass us by without recognition. I began to learn the hollowness of so-called “society.”
We now thought we would leave the city and try farming, so we bought a farm on Long Island and moved upon it early in the spring of 1831. We commenced our labors in earnest and during the summer I worked very hard. As summer merged into autumn I had the ague. I felt very much discouraged, yet I did not want to give up. However, after working the farm two years we sold out and returned to the city.
I again went into a coach-making establishment and after I had worked at this place a short time, a Mr. Kidder came to the shop in search of me. He had heard of my skill as a mechanic and wanted my assistance to get up a machine for sweeping the streets of New York City. My employer, hearing this, ordered him out of the shop and to his surprise or disgust, I went with him.
I then engaged with Mr. Kidder to make a working model of a street-sweeping machine which he had planned, to be sent to the patent office at Washington. Also a machine to sweep the streets, and when I had completed it, I took some men with me for assistance to try it upon the streets. This we done late one night when the streets were deserted. The sweeping machine worked like a charm it proved a perfect success. It swept the street quite clean and gathered up the dirt and carried it off. This was the first street-sweeping machine ever made and used in New York City.
This trial was made on the night of 8th of November, 1833, when the stars fell. Mr. Kidder was a sickly man, a consumptive, and did not dare on account of his health, to expose himself to the night air, and he regretted very much that he missed such a beautiful sight. As near as I can describe its appearance it was as a snowstorm appears when the snowflakes are large, but not very close together and falling slowly, but instead of being flakes of snow was stars. Thousands of bright meteors also shot through space in every direction and some would burst making a loud report, having long trains of light. Arriving home I called the attention of my wife to it, and together we watched them until daylight obscured them from our vision.
I had for some time been connected with the New School Presbyterian Church. As before stated, my mother had assisted me in committing to memory the greater part of the New Testament while attending Sunday School, and as I became more conversant with the doctrines on discipline of Presbyterianism and compared them with the teachings of the Savior and his apostles, I saw that there was not even a semblance. There were no signs following the believer, as recorded in the 16th chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel, verses 17 and 18, as should be the case. There was no authority to confer these blessings, there were no apostles, no prophets having the word of the Lord as anciently. Why did not these blessings exist in the church now.
The answer from the so-called “ministers” of Jesus Christ was, “They were no longer needed. They were needed to establish the church but after it was established they were needed no more.” This kind of reasoning did not appear to me to be consistent. If “God was the same yesterday, today, and forever, without variableness neither shadow of turning,” he would not institute such choice blessings to establish his church and as soon as that church was established, withdraw them.
I was pondering over these things for some time when one day one of the elders was visiting me and seeing my two children inquired if they had been christened. I answered, “No.” He said, “I am surprised that you, a member of the Presbyterian Church should not have your children christened.” I replied that I could see nothing in the scriptures that taught the christening of children. I wished to take the scriptures for my guide and rule of faith and practice. He labored long and earnestly to show me the necessity of attending to that ordinance of the church. He could not convince me of its necessity as he had no evidence to offer from the Bible.
I was then summoned before a session of elders, Dr. Lansing presiding. They expressed surprise at the course I was taking, as a member of the church who did not conform to all its teachings, and they questioned me about what I did believe. I answered all their questions by quoting a scripture bearing on the question. I told them I believed in the principles taught by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments,” and this is what I desired to do. They said we could not keep the commandments of God; it was impossible. I contended that God, being a just God, would not give laws and commandments to his children which they could not keep. I was very much in earnest when contending for the doctrines taught in the New Testament by the Savior and his apostles, but to no purpose. They labored hard to convince me that I was wrong, and I finally said, “Dr, Lansing, I want to be a Christian; tell me, how much sin a man may commit and still be a Christian?”
He sat for some time with bowed head. He seemed very thoughtful and sorrowful, and very much concerned for my salvation. Then he answered, “Brother Mace, you have thought deeper than I supposed.” I had always thought Dr. Lansing to be a good devout man, a Christian in every deed. I had great respect for him but I could not agree with him upon these principles.
I withdrew from their communion table, but usually attended the public Sunday services, but upon one occasion when I was absent they excommunicated me from the church. It seems they waited for a time when I might be absent, and when I could offer no defense for my conducts. This is the way I saw it, and do consider it.
I now withdrew from them entirely. There were many others like myself, searching the scriptures and praying for light, and we met together for mutual edification at the house of Mr. James La Touretts and Mr. William Greens, a hardware merchant. And other places to search the scriptures, for these, like myself, had withdrawn from sectarianism and had come into the liberty as we called it.
My friends said I ought to preach, being so well acquainted with the scriptures, and as we had taken the scriptures for our rule of faith and practice, I ought not to neglect so great a calling. I thought so, too, and I selected the most neglected portions of the city for my labors. One day in the week, Sunday, I devoted to this work. I fasted and prayed, and went from house to house preaching the gospel as I understood it. I sought out the poor and destitute, the ignorant and degraded. Those who have lived in large cities will understand what I mean, the tenement house where many families reside, every room is occupied from the cellar kitchen to the garret with the poorest people.
I commenced at the cellar kitchen and would visit every family from the cellar kitchen to the garret. I talked to them of the Savior; of His mission to the poor, of His suffering and death upon the cross that He might save the children of men, that He died for our sins, just for the unjust that he might bring them to God. I taught them that God, the Father who had sent his well-beloved Son to die upon the cross, was no respecter of persons and that we were all His children, etc.
In these visits I found some of the most degraded creatures huddled together in rags and filth. I began to talk to such, and they would at first jeer at me and curse, but by perseverance I would gain their attention. Even among such degraded persons I have seen them melted to tears. Again others, perhaps in a cellar or up in a garret, as the case may be, although very poor with scarcely clothing to cover them, and everything betokening the direst poverty were scrupulously clean and honest. Such persons would listen with close attention and thank me for coming. Upon leaving they would shake my hand warmly and where I found them so very destitute I would leave a piece of money in their hand, remembering the Savior’s teachings, “When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.”
Thus I continued in these labors for over two years, fasting and praying and visiting the poor, starting out in the morning and returning home in the evening faint and weary from fasting and talking, and I have reason to believe that I accomplished some good. I have been met by strangers upon the street and they have shaken my hand with much warmth and told me they lived at such and such a place, naming the street and how much good my visits had done them, how much my words had encouraged and helped them at a time when all hope had fled, and how they had striven to do better and now had joined some church and were very happy and thanked God that they had met Brother Mace.
About this time I had begun to think very seriously of the saying of the Apostle Paul, “A dispensation of the Gospel is committed unto me and woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.” Paul had been called to preach the gospel; a dispensation of the gospel had been committed to him, but not to me. Like many others I had read this saying of the apostle and applied to myself that which did not belong to me. Paul was a chosen vessel to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. But what was I? I had run myself; God never sent me, neither had it come into His mind. Thus I reasoned, and when I was fully satisfied in my mind upon this point I laid aside my preaching. My friends chided me; the Methodists said I was a backslider. The Presbyterians said I never had any religion or, I would have remained with them. Others said they thought if any man had religion it was Brother Mace. None of them understood my reasons for what they termed my strange conduct or they would have tried to reason me out of it.
During all this time I was diligent in business, fervent in prayer, and serving the Lord to the best of my ability. I would not read a newspaper, nor a periodical of any kind, no, nothing but the Bible and that I studied whenever I had any leisure moments. I saw nothing among all the sects that professed Christianity that in any way resembled the church established by the Savior. There were no prophets, no apostles, pastors, and evangelists, teachers, among them,–for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. All these officers seemed a necessity anciently, why were they not needed now?
I still met with those who like myself were searching the scriptures. At one of these meetings I met Mr. Samuel Beeman, a stranger in our midst, who had just arrived in the city seeking employment. He had been a minister of the gospel in one of the Christian churches, but like myself had become convinced that he held no authority from God and he withdrew from the ministry and was outside of any church. I invited him home with me. He had already written and published a work entitled, “The Kingdom of God,” in which he had plainly set forth the doctrines or principles from the New Testament as to what constituted the Church of Christ. He had shown the necessity for such officers as prophets, apostles, etc., with all the gifts and blessings enjoyed in the days when the Savior and his apostles were upon the earth when the Church was fully organized.
I enjoyed his society very much and we spent much time at night searching the scriptures and conversing thereon. He termed it cracking nuts!–and attending to our businesses in the day. He was intelligent and well-educated and gave me an insight into Hebrew and Greek, so that I could more fully understand the scriptures. At length he found employment, sent for his family and then moved away. Before leaving he made me a present of a crudence concordance to the Bible and a Bible with marginal notes–the best I ever saw–for a student of the scripture. He said I would find these two books together almost as good as understanding Hebrew. This was in November, 1836.
We must now return to November, 1833, when I was working for Mr. Kidder. However, soon after this date I completed my work for him to his entire satisfaction, and was then employed by Mr. John Stephenson to superintend his work shop. At this time it was the largest shop in New York City for this kind of work, which consisted of mail coaches, omnibuses, all kinds of carriages, railroad cars, etc., manufactured by machinery.
At the time he engaged me to superintend his establishment he complained of his wheelmaking. He said they were getting into disrepute and wanted me to improve them. This I did by inventing a machine for boring and mortising hubs which was a perfect success. It made a nice, smooth mortise, as smooth and clean on the inside as it was on the outside. This machine would put 14 mortises in a hub in one minute and fifty seconds, true and nice. Mr. Stephenson said he would get a patent for it, as so far as he knew, it was the first machine made of the kind. I suppose he did.
While I was working at this place a great fire broke out in the lower part of the city that consumed thirty acres of buildings. Five hundred and twenty-nine houses and property valued at 18,000,000 dollars was laid in ashes. This occurred on the 16th day of December, 1835.
I left Mr. Stephenson’s employ for the purpose of perfecting a plan I had conceived, or had in my mind of a machine for making post and rail fence. I rented a shop and went to work to perfect my plans, and made a working model which I exhibited at the fair in October, 1836, and was awarded a diploma by the American Institute for a post mortising and rail sharpening machine [a model]. This model I sent to the city of Washington, D.C. by my brother, John Mace, and received a patent for the same. He was detained some time awaiting the patent papers and before he received them a fire broke out and burned the patent office and post office. My patent papers which had been made out, ready to deliver, were burned and my brother had to return without them. But another set was made and sent to me. By a kind providence my little model was saved, the only one it was said of all the curiosities that had been in the patent office. It happened to be saved in this way: Some one about the patent office was operating the little model and broke some little piece about it, and it had been taken to a workshop to be repaired, and while it was at the shop the fire broke out, and thus my little model was saved. This fire took place in December 1836. I then made a machine for working up the timber and making fence.
In September, 1837, I exhibited at the Mechanic’s Fair held in Niblo’s Garden, and was awarded a diploma by the Mechanic’s Institute of New York for a post mortising and rail sharpening machine, good for saving labor. George Bruce President.
I sold patent rights to a large amount and with this means I was enabled to settle all the obligations of my brother, John and myself which were incurred from failure in business, when we found ourselves several thousand dollars worse than nothing. Now we were again free from all such obligations. I also bought a piece of land in Illinois, about four miles away from Quincy, from a Mr. Begaudus, a resident of that place, for which I paid $3,200. I was very particular about the deed. I would not receive one made out in New York, but it must come direct from Quincy. I received the deed from Quincy all right, but alas! alas! It proved to be forged.
I now disposed of this business to my brother, John, and turned my attention to making portable mills. I bought the patent right with all the “title, interest, etc.,” in what was called a conical grinder, with improvements in threshing machine and horse power, for which I paid $1,500 in company with Mr. William Shay. We done a good business. I was engaged in this business when Elder Parley P. Pratt cane along preaching the gospel.
About this time Mrs. Dexter, a friend of my parents, came from Troy upon a visit with her friends in the city. On one of her visits to my house she made me acquainted with the situation of her youngest daughter, which was extremely miserable. This daughter was married to a profligate fellow who had communicated to her a loathsome disease. He had administered to her calomel and powerful acids, which had produced a terrible state of salivation, and she was fearful that he designed to destroy her life. Mrs. Dexter craved protection for her daughter with her infant. I gave them an upper room in my house where they would be safe from him for the present. Although I was greatly prospered in business I did not neglect the opportunity of meeting with my associates to search the scriptures, and sometimes I visited the meetings held by the Methodists as prayer meetings. On one occasion of this kind they took for their subject a saying of Paul, “Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints.” Several persons present spoke upon the subject, very earnest and full of zeal. They clapped their hands, etc. and seemed to think they had exhausted the subject. They then invited me to speak.
I spoke upon the same subject–viz, “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints.” I endeavored to show how far short we came of having that faith. When that `faith’ was delivered to the Saints, they were told to “Heal the sick, cast out devils, open the eyes of the blind, and to raise the dead,” and “as freely as you have received, freely give.” I asked, “Have we that faith?” Surely not. Can we heal the sick, cast out devils, open the eyes of the blind or raise the dead? Have we any of the gifts of the spirit? If we had, we could do all these things as did the apostles. These gifts are the result of the faith that was delivered to the Saints. I spoke at some length in this strain and sat down.
As soon as I had taken my seat several were on their feet in a moment to confront me and denounce those Bible truths I had presented to them. They declared they were not needed in this age and it was ridiculous for any person to entertain such views. Confusion reigned and the meeting closed.
I had noticed a stranger in the meeting, a portly looking man, sitting by Mr. Elijah Fordham, with whom I was acquainted, as we frequently met each other at the meetings held at the house of Mr. La Tourett. At the close of the meeting Mr. Fordham came forward and very warmly pressed my hand and congratulated me upon the remarks I had made. He then introduced me to the stranger, who seemed very much interested in the meetings, as Mr. Pratt from Ohio.
Mr. Pratt expressed his pleasure at my remarks in the meeting and said he would like a further conversation with me. I told him I was always ready for conversation upon such topics. He inquired if tomorrow afternoon at four o’clock would be convenient. I said “Yes,” and gave him my address and he visited me next day at the time appointed. My wife prepared tea, after which we entered into conversation upon the doctrines taught in the New Testament. He spoke of repentance and of the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins by one holding authority, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. This kind of talk suited me exactly, but where could that authority be found? In the course of our conversation he learned from me this that I was waiting and watching for the gifts of the gospel as they once existed. I would no more connect myself with any denomination unless that denomination had with them apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.
Said he “Brother Mace,”–he called me Brother Mace from the first–“Do you know that you are a singular man.” I replied, “No, I believe in the scriptures and in the doctrines recorded in the New Testament, but why do you say singular?” He said, “I said singular to find a man in this great city of learning and ignorance, of riches and poverty, a city of churches also, to find a man waiting for apostles and prophets and the gifts of the spirit as enjoyed anciently.
“Suppose that you should hear that away in the west somewhere there was such an organization, with apostles and prophets, pastors and teachers, such as you are waiting for.” Then he began telling me about a young man in New York who had been visited by an angel. He gave me the young man’s history and I was very much interested in the recital. He told me about a book that had come forth through the instrumentality of this young man. He told me of a church already organized with prophets, apostles, and all the offices appertaining to the Church of Christ, with all the gifts of the spirit enjoyed by the Saints anciently.
We had conversed upon these subjects until midnight but he had not yet told me the name of the young man neither the title of the book. About midnight he mentioned the name of Joseph Smith the translator of the Book of Mormon.
At the mention of this name a curious feeling crept over me. I had heard some reports of this Joseph Smith, not at all to his credit, and that he was an imposter, etc. But did not the Jews call Jesus a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners? The only question in my mind now were these: Did the church which Mr. Pratt had been telling me of really hold their authority from Jesus Christ as did the apostles of old? And did signs follow the believers?
Mr. Pratt, when taking his leave of me that night, said to me, “Brother Mace, if you are honest, and I believe you are, the Lord will make known to you that we hold this authority.” He bade me farewell with this promise. I now awaited the fulfillment of this promise, that the Lord would make known to me that these things were true. I saw no more of Mr. Pratt for about one month and then it was I went for him to come to my house and administer in my family by the very authority I so much questioned.
One Sunday evening on returning from a religious meeting I found one of our children very sick, a little boy about a year old, and through the night he grew worse. Monday morning the family physician was called in and he pronounced the sickness inflammation of the brain. He used all his skill to arrest the disease in vain; the child grew worse. He told us if water settled on the brain there was no hope. He told us that the indications would be if this was the case. We watched him closely and every symptom he pointed us to appeared to the smallest minute. The child would be thrown into spasms; it would writhe and twist until it was enough to rend the hearts of all who watched its sufferings. The doctor gave him black drops–a concentrated tincture of laudanum–He at first gave one drop, increasing the quantity just sufficient to quiet him. He said had it been given to the child when in health one drop would destroy his life.
We watched the little sufferer as he still grew worse until Wednesday, when my sister Jane, who was present, remarked it was very singular that the child should be kept so long in such terrible suffering. My wife suggested it would be a good time to try Mr. Pratt’s religion. I remarked, “If you wish I will go and bring him.” The fact was, I very was anxious to do so but did not suggest it for fear of raising opposition.
As it was raining I took my umbrella and immediately started for Mr. Pratt. I had taken the precaution to learn his place of residence, being extremely anxious to call upon him. Mr. Pratt himself answered my knock on the door. I told my errand and he put on his hat and cloak, stepped out under my umbrella and accompanied me home. As we entered the room where the child lay it seemed to cause much confusion. In the room present were my wife, my sister Jane, and Mrs. Dexter. Mr. Pratt wished me to call the house to order. When order was restored he offered a prayer which was in conformity with the doctrines of Jesus Christ as taught in the New Testament, that God was the same God that he was anciently, and that the prayer of faith would save the sick, etc.
When we arose from prayer he said, “Brother Mace, you hold more authority in your family than any other man can, and I want you to lay your hands on this child with me.” I did so. He then administered with all confidence in the authority he held and rebuked the disease in the name of Jesus Christ, and said the child should begin to mend in that very hour. My wife asked him if she should give the child any more of the black drops and he replied, “If you have perfect confidence in the administration I would rather you would not, but if you have not perfect confidence you can decrease the quantity gradually.” She decreased the drops gradually. [Written in the margin was: Parley told me in Florence in 1856 that this was the only time he had asked a man not a member of the church to lay hands on the sick.]
Before stated I had given Mrs. Dexter an upper room in my house where she could take care of her sick and suffering daughter. She was present during this administration and remarked, “If this child can be healed my daughter can also.” My sister Jane, who was also present, ran upstairs to the sick woman and told her there was a man downstairs who put himself in the place of Jesus Christ, that he laid his hands on the little child and rebuked the disease in the name of Jesus Christ and commanded it to depart. The Spirit, and the manner of my sister in giving this information to the sick woman, alarmed her. Upon entering her room Mrs. Dexter found her daughter laboring under great excitement. She was a sensible Bible-reading woman and she explained to her daughter all that had taken place in the room where the sick child lay. This soothed and calmed her as she listened to the words of her mother.
The next morning I went to my shop to work. About ten o’clock my wife sent a messenger to me saying the child was well and playful. I went home and found this was even so. Oh, what joy swelled our hearts as we gazed upon the child so miraculously healed. We had truly found that this man, Parley P. Pratt, did indeed hold the authority to rebuke the disease in the name of Jesus Christ and we gave God thanks.
From the time our little boy, Charles, began to recover, Mrs. Dexter’s daughter grew worse and her babe also. The doctor said it was impossible for either to recover. All that night and the next day, Thursday, she still grew worse, and Thursday night it seemed impossible to keep life in her until morning. Next morning Friday Mrs. Dexter sent for Elder Pratt, who brought with him Mr. Elijah Fordham, also an elder. Together they sang a hymn to soft pleasant music as follows: [The text included the hymn, “Now Let us Rejoice.”] . . .
After singing, Elder Pratt offered a prayer and then explained the principles of the gospel as he had done on the previous occasion. The sick woman listened attentively and at her request Elders Pratt and Fordham administered to her and also her babe, and they began to mend from that hour. She had not partaken of food for several days, but a short time after the elders left the house she asked her mother for a cold potato and some vinegar. She sat up in the bed and ate half of the potato and lied down again. In a short time she called for the remainder of the potato and ate it. The vinegar did not distress her as formerly; her babe and herself improved rapidly and she was soon able to move about the room. She had been so badly salivated, that if the door stood ajar or if she ate anything sour, her mouth became filled with lumps, and water would run from her mouth, causing her the greatest distress. Consequently, she was very cautious moving about her room, and to the top of the stairs and back, and finding no bad effect follow, she ventured downstairs to our sitting room. She found the changes from one room to another, the doors being ajar, etc., did not hurt her any more.
Elder Pratt was holding meetings about a quarter of a mile distant, and she accompanied her mother to meeting. As she stepped outside the dorm, my sister Jane was passed on the way to her Baptist meeting and chided the young lady for venturing out on such a blustery day. But she went to the meeting and returned rejoicing. She found herself well, no bad effect followed her venture, and she said she found herself stronger at every step. She was healed every whit.
Truly there was great rejoicing in my house, No. 13 Bedford Street. We had witnessed the power of God made manifest and knew for a surety that He had again given authority to man on the earth to administer in the name of Jesus Christ, and could say as was said by one of old, no man can do these miracles except God be with him.
In a short time after these miracles were performed, Elder Pratt appointed a day for baptizing in the East River, about two miles from my home. It was a very wet disagreeable day with snow and rain. The sidewalks were shoe deep with snow and mud, but this did not prevent the young woman from going. She said her feet were wet from the time she started from home until she returned yet she took no cold. There were six persons baptized at that time by Elder Elijah Fordham. They were: my wife, Margaret Mace; Mrs. Dexter and daughter; Theodore Curtis and wife; and Miss Ann Shaffer, who was afterward married to Elder Fordham. I stood upon a block of ice and witnessed the baptisms.
All retired to the house of Brother Cox, who lived nearby, where those who had been baptized changed their clothing and we then returned home. All wondered why I was not then baptized. My reasons for this was that I wanted to see them act on their own volition, not because I set them the example. A few days after this I was baptized in the same place by Elder Parley P. Pratt. I do not remember the month but these things took place in the winter of 1837-1838.
In April, Elder Parley P. Pratt left the city with a small company of Saints for Missouri. His brother, Elder Orson Pratt, having arrived from the west, took charge of the mission. Very soon after his arrival he ordained me to the office of an elder and while his hands was upon my head, he broke out in tongues–I had never heard a manifestation of the gift of tongues before–After the tongues he said, “You are of the seed of Joseph and of the tribe of Ephraim.” He also said, “No man shall lift his voice against the work you bear forth but he shall be confounded and put to shame.” He placed me to preside over the branch while he traveled and preached, and organized the other branches of the Church. While in the city, himself and wife and little child made their home at my house.
This was the first branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be organized in New York City. It was composed of persons like myself, all young in the Church and they are very backward or diffident in speaking in public, consequently most of the labor of preaching the gospel fell upon me. We held meeting three times on Sunday and one meeting during the week. My time was fully occupied. I attended to my mechanical labor as usual as well as preaching the gospel, on the sabbath three times, and also during the week. I found no time for rest and began to feel the necessity of a change. Brother M. Sirrine proposed that I go on a visit with him to the home of his parents in the Catskill Mountains and I accepted his invitation and started upon a short mission.
We took passage on a steamer as far as Mattewan, a small town opposite the town of Fishkill, which is on the west side of the Hudson River. We proceeded at once to the house of Mr. Sirrine, a short distance from Mattewan, up in the mountains. Arriving there in the middle of the afternoon, Brother M. Sirrine introduced me to his parents who received me very cordially. His mother, Mrs. Sirrine, was a very peculiar woman. When any of her family were absent, and without any communication from them, she was always apprised of their return by some means unknown to them. She would make preparations to receive them just as any mother would do when hearing directly from them. So she had prepared for our coming.
When the welcomes and greetings were over, Mrs. Sirrine took her son aside and inquired of him if his friend was a preacher. He answered, “Yes, he is from the city of New York, here on a short mission.” She was somewhat surprised at his answer although she had expected her son in the company of a preacher. My appearance disappointed her, it did not meet her ideal of a preacher. We stayed with them that night and preached to them the gospel. They accepted the principles we taught as the truth of the Bible. The following morning we walked down to Mattewan to see some friends of Brother M. Sirrine who worked in a factory at that place. When it became known that I was a Mormon, all crowded around to look at me as though there was some peculiarity about a “Mormon” that was not about any other person. Some wanted to see the Mormon Bible, the golden Bible, etc.
I handed them my pocket Bible–a new book, gilt-edged. They took it and looked it all through carefully, then handed it back to me, remarking they could see no difference in it than their own Bible. We visited a man who had been afflicted with rheumatism for four years, being unable to do any kind of work during that time. He heard the gospel and believed, and was administered to in the name of Jesus Christ and was fully restored to health.
We held meeting at Fishkill. The Methodists, hearing of our appointment, gave notice that they would hold meeting at the same hour, with the expectation that it would prevent the Mormons having any hearers or breaking our meeting up, if we were fortunate enough to obtain any hearers. Exactly the opposite took place. The Methodist meeting was deserted and the people flocked to our meeting. The house was filled; the doors and windows crowded to hear what these Mormons had to say. We discoursed upon the first principles of the gospel and of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. This was a favorite subject with me.
In the course of my remarks I bore testimony to the restoration of the gospel, with all the gifts and blessings as they were enjoyed in the days of the Savior and His apostles. I bore testimony to great things the Lord was doing. I told of the many wonderful and marvelous works that had been done in the city of New York under the hands of Parley P. Pratt, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I referred more especially to the three miracles which were performed in my house. A young woman who was in the congregation, with a babe in her arms, arose to her feet and testified that these things were true; that she was the person spoken of and that she and her babe had been healed by the laying on of hands by Elder P. P. Pratt. She held her babe up to the gaze of this large congregation, showing that it had grown to be a plump and healthy child. Mrs. Dexter and daughter had removed from my house a short time after the recovery to health of her daughter and her babe, and I had lost sight of them. I was much pleased to see them and to hear their testimony at this time.
Crossed the river. We returned to Mattewan, and to the house of him who was healed of rheumatism. I was seated upon a sofa and this man sat down by my side, he seemed somewhat uneasy, I saw by his manner something unusual had taken place, finally he said, “Brother Mace do you think the Lord notice small things?” I replied, “Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice.” He seemed rather surprised at my reply, and sat for some time apparently in deep thought. He then told me that while we were absent he had been from home, a distance of five or six miles, attending a trial of some person, he had been called there as a witness. His road lay through the woods, and on his return through the woods, he had had a very singular experience.
He said as he walked along the road meditating upon the promises made to believers as recorded in the gospel according to St. Mark viz. 16 and 17 verses: “These signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them, they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” Also a saying of the Savior, recorded in St. Luke 17:6 “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree by ye plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea and it should obey you.”
While he still meditated upon these saying, he saw a bird, a very swift moving bird called in that part of the country a “highpole,” it was perched up on the limb of a tree just low enough to reach, he said a thought came into his mind, why not command that highpole to stand still and go and take it down and before he realized what he was doing the command has passed from him, and the bird stood still, and he walked up to it and took it down off the limb and brought it home with him. He showed me the bird. I then saw how my answer surprised him, as he was aware I knew nothing of what he had done.
I found much pleasure in visiting the people and teaching them the way that leads to salvation. We had a good, profitable visit; we preached the gospel to many, and returned to the city feeling well satisfied with our labors among the people who listened attentively to the message of glad tidings which we bear to them.
Upon our return we found all well. I continued my labors until September. I then disposed of my business and made preparations to gather with the Saints in Missouri. Elder Lucien R. Foster succeeded me in the presidency over the New York branch.
On the eleventh day of September, 1838, I bid adieu to the city where I had spent my youth, and to relations and friends, that I might gather with the Saints and assist in building up Zion. My family consisted of five persons: my wife, three children, John, Emily and Charles, and myself. We had lost two children, Edgar and William, who were buried in New York City. I took with me in my wagon, Brother David W. Rogers and family consisting of seven persons, viz. David W. Rogers’ wife and five children. I had three good horses, a wide-track wagon with projecting sides, and good covers. I shipped my goods by water to Richmond, Missouri. Elder Orson Pratt, president of the mission, accompanied us across the river and travelled some distance with us. When we reached the top of a hill, and onto the highroad, he bade us farewell, saying, “Brother Mace, now the road is before you, God bless you,” and he returned to the city. We travelled across New Jersey, over a rough, mountainous country, and crossed the Delaware River at Eastown, Pennsylvania. I stopped at this place and put a brake on my wagon as my horses had become badly galled in travelling over the rough roads without a brake.
We then drove through Eastown in a southwest direction to reach the national road. We crossed a creek called Conakagig. Here there was a toll gate at the foot of one of the Allegheny Mountains. We ascended this mountain over the several spurs until we reached the summit and down on the other side over a splendid macadamized road. The last spur brought us to the town of Wheeling, West Virginia, on the Ohio River. We crossed over the river and passed through Zanesville and Columbus, in the state of Ohio. From there we travelled to Indianapolis in Indiana, then crossed the river into Illinois and camped on the edge of the Grand Prairie.
Early the following morning we started across the Grand Prairie, until now I had not seen a prairie of any great extent, at noon we could see nothing but sky and land covered with rich grass. We travelled all day before we reached the edge of any timber, and here we camped at a small settlement. At this place we heard that there was some difficulty in Missouri and that the Mormons were being driven from that state of Missouri, this was the first news we had of these troubles. The next day we travelled through Springfield and on to Quincy. On the bank of the Mississippi River, it was the coldest night we had experienced on the long journey. We arrived here on the 11th day of November, 1838, just two months from the time we left the city of New York.
Snow fell through the night and the next morning ice was running in the river so we could not cross. We thought best to hire a house in Quincy and wait for the weather to moderate. We then moved into a house and we soon learned that mobs had come against the Saints in Missouri and they were fleeing before them. Very soon after we had moved into our hired house brethren began to arrive one and two at a time, having escaped from Missouri. They brought the news of the evacuation of the Saints from that state by mob violence. I learned that the Prophet Joseph Smith and many of the brethren were in prison, among them Parley P. Pratt. I learned of the cruelties practiced upon an inoffensive people and the suffering they were enduring for the sake of the gospel.
I reflected thus: Was it possible that such cruelties could take place in this land, a country made free by the blood of our fathers, who fought and died that their children might be free from tyranny, and that they might have liberty to worship Almighty God as they felt was acceptable to him, or according to the dictates of their own conscience? Is it possible that mobs would be permitted to rob and destroy the houses of good, honest law-abiding citizens and imprison them? And to murder men, women and children in this boasted land of liberty and equal rights?
Alas, alas truth forces the conviction upon me that mobs are not only permitted, but are authorized by the governor of the state of Missouri to exterminate them as will be seen by the following: “After a murderous attack upon the citizens of Far West, a mob of seven thousand armed men, professing to be the regular militia of the state of Missouri, took all the prominent men prisoners and plundered the citizens of their bedding, clothing, money and everything of value they could lay their hands on and abused the women and children. Major General Clark arrived at Far West with one thousand, six hundred men, and Governor Boggs’ exterminating order, on the 4th of November.”
General [John B.] Clark’s speech delivered on the 6th November, 1838 at Far West. [See HC 3:202-204.] . . .
As I became satisfied that I could go no farther on my journey, I rented a larger house on the outskirts of the city of Quincy and moved into it. I then sent to Richmond and had my goods shipped to this place. The house had two good sized rooms with a good cellar beneath, and one large room above which was reached by stairs on the outside. On the premises was a good stable for my horses and other conveniences that could not be had in the city. The upper room made a good workshop and when my goods arrived from Missouri, I set up my lathe and prepared for business.
During this time the Saints began to arrive, being harassed by mobs, until not one was left in possession of a home, and all were fleeing from Missouri. What suffering they underwent in their flight, who can tell? Robbed of everything they possessed, their crops destroyed, the cattle and swine shot down and eaten by the mobs, and they, poor and destitute, driven forth in the depth of winter, many barefoot and poorly clad and some dying, to be buried by the wayside while many contracted disease from exposure which caused much suffering until released by death.
I ask, will this nation redress the wrongs these people are enduring? Will these mobbers be brought to justice, and punished as they deserve? Who have [been driven] from comfortable homes men, women and children, and caused so much suffering and death? We wait and see.
As the Saints reached the shore on either side of the Mississippi at Quincy, I was an eyewitness of their suffering. As soon as possible after reaching Quincy, the elders of the Church called a meeting and selected a committee of eleven to look after the poor. I was chosen one of this committee and to act as commissary. My house was used as a committee house and also for religious meetings, the upper room being used for these purposes. Many of the Saints were glad to find shelter in my house from the storms, until they could find a place to live in. Very many nights the floors, upstairs and down, were covered with beds so closely it was impossible to set a foot anywhere without stepping upon someone’s bed.
Brother Joseph Young and family lived in my house all winter, as also John Taylor, one of the Twelve Apostles and his family. He was a turner by trade, consequently my turning lathe was very convenient; upon it he turned carpenter’s bench screws, butter prints, and a variety of useful articles which he sold and thereby earned a living for himself and family. Here also Israel Barlow lived with me, and married a young woman who was nursing my wife when our little daughter Zuriah was born on February 17, 1839.
But to return, one cold, blustery morning I went down to the riverside and found about 14 or 15 families camped on the river bottom in a most miserable condition. They had crossed the river and could get no farther. Some of them had tried to make a shelter from the wind by placing some poles in the ground and putting a sheet over them. The wind was blowing the snow about them so that the poor children who was hovering over a little fire could get little benefit from it. I returned as soon as possible and made known their situation and in a very short time they were moved into town and made comfortable.
The committee were kept busy. By this time the ice was running in the river and a company who had arrived on the opposite side could not cross, and we could not reach them. The weather was intensely cold. They were camped on the snow, some had sheets stretched to make a little shelter from the wind, but it was a poor protection, the children were shivering around a fire which the wind blew about so it done them very little good. The poor Saints were suffering terribly. We made known their situation and the good people of Quincy called a meeting for the purpose of relieving their most pressing wants. They were out of provision and poorly clad and some were barefoot. The citizens responded to the call and donated liberally, the merchants vieing with each other as to which could be the most liberal. They soon had the contributions together, which filled a large canoe with flour, pork, coffee, sugar, boots, shoes and clothing, everything these poor outcasts so much needed.
Now a question arose, who would volunteer to take this loaded canoe across the river. The ice was running and made it a very dangerous undertaking. Some time was lost in trying to find someone who would dare venture and who could handle a canoe. Finally one man, and only one, volunteered. This was John Hawley, and he could not swim if the canoe overturned. The canoe was hauled or pulled up the river some distance so that it would land on the opposite side of the river and as near as it possibly could.
At last all was ready, the canoe with its contents started on its hazardous journey. Brother Hawley battled bravely among the ice, sometimes it seemed he would be swamped and all would be lost. He was calm and determined as he fought his way amid the running ice. Many a word of cheer was shouted to him and many a silent, earnest prayer ascended to heaven in his behalf. The Lord heard the prayers and strengthened him and after much hard labor he landed the canoe safely near the camp and the poor, suffering Saints were supplied with the provisions of clothing so much needed. That was a perilous undertaking and no other than a brave man would have volunteered his services.
As soon as the ice ran out so the ferry boat could cross the river, the Saints were brought over and made comfortable. I employed some of the brethren to work the land I had bought of Mr. Begaudus while I was yet in New York City. Soon after arriving in Quincy I went and looked over it and found it a fine piece of land, about four miles from Quincy, and in every respect just as Mr. Begaudus had represented it. I was much pleased with the situation and felt that I had made a good investment. However my mind soon changed on that point as I had no sooner started men to work than I found another man owned the land and I had been swindled. Mr. Robert Tilson, a merchant of Quincy, held a government title to the same piece of land.
I immediately went to a lawyer for counsel in the matter, I laid the case before, him, I showed him the deeds I had received from Begaudus, and how very particular I had been to have them sent direct from Quincy where the land lay. This lawyer said I might prosecute Begaudus, and would no doubt gain the suit, but that would be all I would gain, for Begaudus had nothing. He said it would cost me a good sum of money, and it would be simply throwing money away. The deed appeared to be made out all right, but said he, `they are forged.’
Begaudus, learning that I was investigating his rascality and might land him in the penitentiary left suddenly in the night, and I have heard nothing of him since, nor the $3,200 I paid him for the land.
In his flight from Missouri, Israel Barlow crossed the Mississippi River about fifty miles above Quincy, at a small settlement called Commerce. He reached this place in a destitute condition. He was kindly treated and in conversation with several gentlemen upon the difficulties the Saints were undergoing, he enlisted their sympathies. Among these gentlemen was one Dr. Galland, who proposed the Saints, settle in that vicinity.
When Brother Barlow reached my house at Quincy he made known his interview with these gentleman, and the proposition of Dr. Galland to the Church. A committee was then appointed to go and examine the country and learn more fully the propositions made. I was chosen one of this committee. We went up to see the land and thought it would be a good place for the Saints to locate and so reported to a meeting held for that purpose in the committee room at my house.
By request, Elder John P. Green stated the object of the meeting, stating that a liberal offer had been made by a gentleman, of about twenty thousand acres upon easy terms without interest. He said a committee had examined the land and reported very favorably respecting it, and thought it every way suited for a location for the Church. D. W. Rogers gave information respecting the land being one of the committee appointed to examine.
Several of the brethren expressed themselves upon the subject; some were for gathering together upon the land, while others were undecided. Brother Marks said he was altogether in favor of making the purchase, providing it was the will of the Lord that we should again gather together. But from the cirucumstances of being driven from the other places, he almost was led to the conclusion that it was not wisdom that we should do so. Israel Barlow thought it might be in consequence of not building according to the pattern given us that we had been scattered. He was in favor of gathering, and I was in favor of immediately gathering, that we might build up a Zion to the Lord. Bishop Partridge did not think it expedient under the circumstances to collect together; he thought it would be better to scatter into different parts and provide for the poor. Others spoke their minds upon the subject. However a letter was received from Dr. Gall and one was written by the committee and sent to the Prophet Joseph by the hand of Brother D. W. Rogers. Joseph returned an answer by Brother Rogers, to secure the land and that he would soon be out of prison. He also wrote a letter to Dr. Galland and which showed the bold, frank, independent spirit which pervaded his breast, although a prisoner in Liberty Jail, Missouri. A copy of this letter was published in the Times and Seasons of February 1840.
As soon as the word reached us from Joseph we followed his suggestion and secured the land. Returning from one of our visits to Commerce upon this business, and when in sight of Brother McCleary’s house at Lima, we saw two men standing as if they had just alighted from their horses. Bishop Knight exclaimed, “There is Joseph and Hyrum!” Now for the first time my eyes rested upon the great Prophet of the last days. I was introduced to them and shook hands with them. Their sister–wife of Brother McCleary–hurried to and for pressing them to partake of refreshments at the same time telling them how anxious they had been and how fearful they were lest the mob would take their lives. Joseph said to her, “You were much troubled about us but you did not know the promise of God to us”. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were on their way to Commerce to carry out to a finish the business commenced by the committee. Upon their return to Quincy they held meeting at my house.
I learned that Joseph and Hyrum with those of the brethren who were with them escaped from their enemies in Missouri and reached Quincy after Bishop Knight’s and I had left for Commerce.
As before stated, the stairs which led to the upper room where meetings were held, was on the outside and at the back of the house. On the landing at the top of these stairs the Prophet addressed the people. This is the first time I heard the Prophet Joseph Smith preach, and I shall never forget his words. In the course of his remarks he said, “Yes, said the Angel your name shall go out for good and for evil.” Me think I see him now as he looked upon that occasion. He was a fine looking man, tall and well proportioned, strong and active, light complexion, blue eyes and light hair and very little beard. He had a free and easy manner, not the least affectation yet bold and independent and very interesting and eloquent in speech.
On the fourth day of May, a conference of the Church was held in a grove where the Presbyterians and Methodists held their camp meetings near Quincy. The meeting was called to order and Joseph Smith was appointed chairman. Elder Joseph Young lead in singing the hymn commencing with the following:
Glorious things of Thee are spoken Zion, city of our God, He whose word cannot be broken, Chose thee for his own abode. On the Rock of Ages founded, What can shake thy sure repose, With salvation walls surrounded, Thou may’st smile on all thy foes.
The large congregation of Saints joined in the singing with the spirit and meaning thereof. Joseph was overcome. He arose to his feet to speak but it was with difficulty that he controlled his emotions. He however, made a few remarks upon the peculiar situation of the Saints, and of his own feelings after his imprisonment and long separation from them.
To look upon the Saints who had been driven from their homes, and scattered as they were, among strangers, without homes, robbed of everything, and to see them under all these trying circumstances assemble to this General Conference form all the region around, and sing of Zion, the city of our God, with so much spirit, showing their love and confidence in the gospel, and the pleasure he felt in meeting with them. He could scarcely refrain form weeping, he then opened the meeting with prayer. He then opened the meeting with prayer.
During this conference Joseph righted up the Twelve, several of that quorum having apostatized during the troublesome times in Missouri. One of these was Thomas B. Marsh, the president of the Quorum.
This conference lasted three days, in the course of which President Sidney Rigdon, was chosen as a delegate, to go to the city of Washington, D.C. to lay before the general government, our grievances and seek redress. Also a number of elders was called, to accompany the Twelve on their mission to Europe.
Brigham Young was set apart as President of the Twelve at the house of his brother-in-law, John P. Green. Upon this occasion I was present and with much interest I sat listening to Joseph as he walked the floor talking to those present. There was in the room besides myself, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and I think, John Taylor (but I am not quite certain).
The Quorum of the Twelve had been filled, but of the number selected one–Willard Richards–was in England and Joseph was instructing those present of that Quorum how they must proceed to prepare themselves, that they might ordain Willard Richards to the Apostleship when they should reach that country. Joseph told them to go to Kirtland and cleanse and purify a certain room in the temple, that they must kill a lamb and offer a sacrifice unto the Lord which should prepare them to ordain Willard Richard a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Sidney made some remarks, when Joseph spoke with great power and spirit, said he, “I know the law. To a remark made by Heber C. Kimball he said, “It will be the sweetest smelling savor you ever smelled.” He then walked to where Brigham Young sat and placed his hands upon his head said, “Come Brother Hyrum, come Brother Sidney!” Hyrum arose and came forward promptly and placed his hand upon him, but Sidney came forward very reluctantly–I thought–and in a muttering way said he had laid his hands upon so many and conferred power upon me, who had turned and used it against him. Joseph took no notice of his remark, but proceeded to ordain Brigham Young President of the Twelve Apostles, said he, “while you live no other man can hold this power that is now conferred upon you,” or words to that effect. All who were present upon that occasion has passed to the other side and I only am left. I too must soon follow them.
The Saints now began to locate upon the land in Hancock County, Illinois, and also across the river in Lee County, Iowa, which had been purchased by Joseph for the Church. Commerce, afterward called Nauvoo by Joseph, was considered a very unhealthy spot. It had been settled and vacated for the third or fourth time, and at the time Joseph made the purchase there were but six houses standing. Joseph moved his family into a small log house on the bank of the Mississippi. On the opposite side of the river at Montrose was an old soldiers’ barracks, or fort, where several families found shelter. At this place I bought a piece of land on which was a fine apple orchard.
On the seventh day of June, 1839, we were called to mourn the loss of our little son, Charles, who died very suddenly of croup, aged 3 years and 2 months. He it was who was so miraculously healed of brain fever, by the power of God, under the hands of Apostle Parley P. Pratt, in the city of New York. He was a remarkable child, intelligent beyond his years. He was a very bright engaging child, and beloved by all who became acquainted with him. The father of the prophet said to me, Brother Mace you should not have let that child die.
We at once moved into the Fort at Montrose. My wife had said, she never could live in a loghouse, (as we were travelling through the country) but here we were in just such a one and very glad of it too, and we thanked God for shelter. On the 24th of September, 1839, our infant daughter, Zuriah, died.
We had many things we had thought to be indispensable to our comfort which we had brought from New York, but which now seemed very much out of place such a home and surroundings. Such things as fine carpets, and ornaments for the house, and some very fine furniture, were all sold to help the poor. My wife had already disposed of her jewelry, silk dresses and many other articles of clothing, and had sent the proceeds to buy corn to feed the poor Saints who had lost their all in Missouri.
If any had been so fortunate as to save a coffee mill in their flight, and could obtain corn, they were in a situation to be able to make bread; some less fortunate pounded the corn into meal.
Seeing these difficulties, and having brought a very large coffee mill with me–that I once used in my store–I endeavored to assist them by applying it to use. I made a large fly wheel and attached a belt. With this mill a ten year old boy could grind a bushel of corn in an hour. This was a great help.
The unhealthy climate of Commerce and vicinity, following the hardships and exposure of the Saints, brought on much sickness and it seemed all the powers of Satan were at work to destroy this people. Disease manifested itself to such an extent that all were prostrated at both Commerce and Montrose and in the surrounding country. Joseph gave his house up to the sick, and moved his family into a large tent, himself and his wife took care of the, they extended their labors as far as possible, Joseph and Emma would ride on horseback, form place to place visiting the sick, anointing with oil and lay hands on them, and heal them, and relieve their wants until Joseph himself was taken sick. This was on the 22nd July.
One day while upon his bed of sickness, the spirit came upon him in great power, he Joseph arose from his bed, calling upon some of the elders to assist him, they went from house to house administering unto the sick, by the laying on of hands, and healed them by the power of God.
They crossed the river and commenced their labors at Montrose. At this time all were sick, no one was able to walk about except a negro called, Black Jack, and myself. Several of the Twelve lived in the fort. Joseph and the elders with him went first to the house of Brigham Young President of the Twelve, then to others of the Quorum who live here, and all were healed.
They went next to the house of Elijah Fordham who was sick nigh unto death, he was unable to speak and seemingly unconscious. Joseph took his hand and held it some time in silence, a chance came over brother Fordham, and he regained consciousness. Brother Joseph then asked him if he knew him, he faintly answered, “Yes.” He then asked him if he wished to live, he replied “Yes, but feared it was too late.” Still holding his hand, Joseph stood a few moments, and then with a loud voice said, “Brother Fordham, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and be made whole.”
He immediately arose from his bed, and shook from his feet the onion poultices which was on them, and with assistance put on his clothes, and walked with the company of brethren a few rods, to the house of Joseph Bates Nobles who was laying very sick upon entering the house, Elder Fordham was called upon to pray, and while praying he fainted. He soon recovered and proceeded with his prayer, which when had finished, they lay hands upon Brother Nobles and raised him up, many was likewise `miraculously’ healed as they went from house to house ministering to the sick, and blessing them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and they recovered. There were many sick in the surrounding country whom Joseph could not himself visit, therefore he deputed the Twelve Apostles, to go and heal them, and he returned to Nauvoo. Parley P. Pratt, was with Joseph when he visited Montrose having made his escape from prison.
P. P. Pratt with King Follett and Morris Phelps made a break for liberty on the 4th July 1839. M. Phelps was successful in eluding his pursuers and reached Illinois without interruption, King Follett was overtaken and again thrust into prison, and Parley P. Pratt after much hardship and suffering reached his friends in Illinois about the 9th or 10th of the month, he found his family in Quincy and soon moved them to Nauvoo.
Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, George Robinson, Lyman Wight and P. P. Pratt, was betrayed into the hands of the mob by Hinkle (a Judas) on the 3lst October 1838.
They were placed under a strong guard. The officers of the mob held a secret meeting which they called a Court martial and sentenced them to be shot the next morning at eight o’clock in the public square.
Brigadier General Doniphan with a few others was opposed to this and said, “It is cold blooded murder, and I wash my hands of it.” General Lucas, dare not pit the sentence into execution, but took them as prisoners to Richmond, where by the decision of a mock court before Judge King, they were sentenced to prison on a charge of treason. This trial lasted about eighteen days, most of this time they were kept in chains, in a cold dreary room. Beside those whose name I have mentioned were about fifty others of the brethren who had been marched on foot thirty miles from Caldwell; most of whom was discharged upon diving bonds. Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae and Caleb Baldwin, were sent to Liberty Clay County, and P. P. Pratt, morris Phelps and others were sent to Richmond Ray County, but was finally removed to a prison at Columbia Boone County. He–Parley–had spent eight weary months in dungeons with no hope of release by the courts, they finally with the help of the Lord made their escape of the great national holiday.
A few words from the pen of Elder Parley P. Pratt one of the prisoners, will describe their misery during the mock trial before Judge King at Richmond. Parley says, “One of those tedious nights, we had lain as if in sleep till the hour of midnight had passed, and our ears and hearts had been pained while we listened for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of our guards, Colonel Price at their head, as they recounted to each other their deeds of rapine, murder, robbery, etc, which they had committed among the `Mormons,’ while at Far West and vicinity. They even boasted of defiling by force wives, daughters, and virgins, and of shooting or dashing out the brains of men, women and children. I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards, but said nothing to Joseph or anyone else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering as near as I can recollect the following words, “Silence ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die this instant!”
He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.
“I have seen the ministers of justice clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before them, while life was suspended on a breath, in the courts of England I have witnessed a congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once as it stood in chains, at midnight; in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri.
Notwithstanding the difficulties the Saints had been called to pass through, being driven from place to place, the education of their children, although interrupted, was not forgotten. As soon as possible a room was prepared for that purpose and by request of President Sidney Rigdon, I went to Lima and brought to Nauvoo, Miss Eliza R. Snow, to teach school. In spite of the unhealthy location of Nauvoo and the poverty of many of the people after their expulsion from Missouri, in the short space of one year the city contained two hundred and fifty houses and industry and thrift were seen on every hand.
Almost as soon as the father [Joseph Smith, Sr.] and mother [Lucy Smith] of the Prophet Joseph Smith set their feet upon the hospitable shore of Illinois, I became acquainted with them. I frequently visited them and listened with intense interest as they related the history of the rise of the Church in every detail.
With tears they could not withhold, they narrated the story of the persecution of their boy, Joseph, which commenced when he was about fourteen years old, or from the time the angel first visited him. Not only was the boy, Joseph, persecuted but the aged father was harassed and imprisoned on false charges until finally driven from Missouri in the depth of winter he contracted disease from exposure, from which he never recovered.
In these conversations, mother [Lucy] Smith, as she was familiarly called, related much of their family history. She told how their family would all be seated around the room while they all listened to Joseph with the greatest interest as he taught them the pure principles of the gospel as revealed to him by the angels, and of his glorious vision of the Father and the Son, when the father said to him as he pointed to his companion, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.”
She said, “during the day our sons would endeavor to get through their work as early as possible, and say, `Mother’, have supper early, so we can have a long evening to listen to Joseph. Sometimes Joseph would describe the appearance of the Nephites, their mode of dress and warfare, their implements of husbandry, etc, and many things he had seen in vision. Truly ours was a happy family, although persecuted by preachers, who declared there was no more vision, the canon of scripture was full, and no more revelation was needed.” But Joseph had seen a vision and must declare it.
Oh, how many happy hours I have spent with these good old folks. They were as honest and true as it was possible for mortals to be; and they exemplify the words of the Apostle who said, “All who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.”
Meetings in Nauvoo were held in a Jack Oak Grove, in the open air, and here I listened to the words of inspiration as they fell from the lips of the Prophet, as he taught the congregations of the Saints.
Who could listen to these words of inspiration and honestly say Joseph Smith is an imposter? No one, not even his bitter enemies.
Who among all the so called Christian Churches, with all their learning could explain the order of the Priesthood? No one.
Who among them could explain `any’ of the principles of life and salvation, with the ordinances necessary thereto? Not one.
I have listened to the Prophet Joseph in public, and in private, in sunshine and shower–as many others have done as he taught from the stand–At my own house, and at his hose, I have been familiar with him, from the time he escaped from prison in Missouri in 1839 until his martyrdom in 1844, and do know that no man could explain the scripture–throw them wide open to view, so plain that none could misunderstand their meaning–except he had been taught of God.
I have felt ashamed myself sometimes, having studied the scriptures so much, that I had not seen that which was so plain when he touched them. He as it were turned the key, and the door of knowledge sprang wide open, disclosing precious principles, both new and old.
I have many times been pondering upon a subject, and seemed to come to a stand-still, not knowing how to gain farther information, relating to it, when upon going to meeting on the sabbath, the key would be touched by Joseph and the subject would be so plain I wondered why I had not seen it before.
I was in this situation in relation to the Ten lost tribes of Israel. I had read everything I could find relating to them. I had carefully studied the statistics of the Jews, and not withstanding they had been persecuted for hundreds of years, being murdered and driven, until they were now scattered all over the known world, yet they numbered several millions. I reasoned thus, had the `Ten Tribes’, suffered equal disaster, and they had increased in number, in the same ratio as the Jews, the would number nearly ten times as many–or nine times and a half as it is nine a half tribes instead of ten. If they have increased in this proportion, where is there habitable earth for this vast amount of people who are hidden from the rest of mankind? I could not see.
I was in this train of thought, unable to obtain further information from any source, when as usual on a Sunday morning, I took my skiff and crossed the river to Nauvoo, to attend meeting.
Joseph addressed the congregation, and as if for special benefit, touched upon this subject which opened a new field for reflection to me. His subject was: The “restitution of all things spoken of by all the Holy Prophets since the world began,” quoting the twenty first verse of the third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
In the course of his remarks he spoke of the earth being divided at various times. He said, “When Enoch and his city was taken away, a portion of earth was taken and would again be restored. Also in the days of Peleg, the earth was divided, see Genesis 10th Chapter 25 verse.” He then referred to the `Ten Tribes’, saying, “You know a long time ago in the days of Shalmanezer King of Assyria when the Ten Tribes was taken away, and never been heard of since.” He said, “The earth will be restored as at the beginning, and the last taken away will be the first to return, for the last shall be first, and the first shall be last in all things.” He illustrated the return by saying.
“Some of you brethren have been coming up the river on a steamboat, and while seated at the table, the steamboat run against a snag which upset the table and scatter the dishes; so it will be when these portions of earth return. It will make the earth reel to and for `like a drunken man,'” quoting 24th chapter Isaiah 20th verse. When speaking of the return of the Ten Tribes, he said, “The mountains of ice shall flow down at their presence,” and a highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.”
These remarks satisfied me, it was no longer necessary to hunt the place on this earth where the Ten Tribes were so long hidden, for the earth was divided and taken away, and will be the first to return, as it was the last taken away.
“He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land.”
“And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided. See [D&C 133:21-24] Appendix. Doctrine & Covenants.
I will introduce a poem upon this subject, by Sister E. R. Snow, as it was published in the Millennial Star 1851, pg. 272 entitled
An Address to the Earth
Thou, earth, wast once a glorious sphere of noble magnitude,
And didst with majesty appear, among the worlds of God.
But thy dimensions have been torn asunder, piece by piece,
And each dismembered fragment borne abroad to distant space.
When Enoch could no longer stay amid corruption here,
Part of thyself was borne away to form another sphere.
That portion where his city stood He gained by right approved;
And nearer to the throne of God His planet upward moved.
And when the Lord saw fit to hide the “ten lost tribes” away,
Thou, earth, was severed to provide the orb on which they stay.
And thus, from time to time thy size has been diminished, till
Thou seemest the law of sacrifice created to fulfil.
The curse of God on man was placed: that curse thou didst partake,
And thou hast been by turns disgraced and honored for his sake.
The vilest wretches hell will claim now breathe thy atmosphere,
The noblest spirits heaven can name have been embodied here.
Jesus the Lord thy surface graced; He fell a sacrifice;
And now within thy cold embrace the martyred Joseph lies.
When Satan’s hosts are overcome, the martyred princely rare,
Will claim thee their celestial home thy royal dwelling place.
A “restitution” yet must come, that will to them restore,
By the grand law of worlds, thy sum of matter heretofore.
And thou, O earth, will leave the track thou hast been doomed to trace
The Gods with shouts will bring thee back to fill thy native place.
Upon another occasion about this time, when addressing the Saints upon the coming of the Savior, Joseph said, “I prophecy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man has already commenced, one pestilence will desolate after another, you hear of wars in foreign lands, but behold I say unto you they are nigh even at your doors, and not many years hence you shall hear of wars in your own land.” I testify of these things and that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh even at your doors. The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood. If our souls and our bodies are not looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, and after we are dead, if we are not looking forth for his coming; we shall be among them that call for the rocks to fall on us and hide us.”
“The time is coming when no man will have any peace, but in Zion, and her stakes. I know it I have seen it in vision! I saw men hunting lives of their own sons, and women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers, and brother murdering brother. I saw armies arrayed against armies, I saw blood, desolation, fires–These things are at our doors!”
“They will follow the Saints of God from city to city, Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged. I know not how soon these things will take place and with a view of them, shall I cry peace, peace? No! I will lift up my voice and testify of them. How long you will have good crops, and the famine be kept off, I do not know.”
“The Son of Man has said, that the mother shall be against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, etc,, and when the fig tree puts forth her leaves, know then that summer is nigh.” Many times he spoke of these things.
At the general conference held in Nauvoo October 1839, it was resolved that Joseph Smith accompanied by Elias Higbee and Sidney Rigdon should proceed to Washington, to lay before the president, and the congress of the nation, the wrongs the Saints had suffered.
Sidney Rigdon, had been appointed a delegate for that purpose at the conference held at Quincy in May, but for some cause had not filled that mission.
On the 5th day of October 1839, Joseph and his companions started on their journey and reached Washington safely on November the 28th. In crossing the Alleghany Mountains they had quite an exciting experience on reaching the top of one of the mountains, the driver on the stagecoach, fastened the lines and went into a tavern, as soon as he got into the house the horses took fright and started off at full speed. The coach was full of passengers; beside Joseph and his companions, were some Congressmen on their way to Washington, and a woman with a babe.
The Stage tossed and pitched like a boat in a storm, the passengers became very much alarmed fearful of being dashed to pieces over a precipice, the congressmen jumped out, and the brethren wanted to do the same, but Joseph restrained them awhile, but they were uneasy, Joseph told them if they were determined to wait till they started up the next mountain and then jump. They done so.
The woman wanted to throw her babe out and then jump herself. Joseph tried to dissuade her and at last took the babe from her lest she would do so, then he talked to her until she became somewhat calm. He then told her if she would take the babe, and sit quiet, he would climb out over the quarter panel and stop the horses, she said she would do so, he accordingly gave her the babe, and then climbed out and swung himself into the dickey seat, and took the lines soon stopped the horses. Those who have passed over this road in a stage coach nay appreciate the danger attending such a feat, with a runaway stage.
The stage driver was the first to reach the stage almost breathless from a run of about three miles, he was much relieved in mind when he saw the stagecoach all right, the horses quiet although panting and Joseph on the drivers seat calm holding the reins. He expected everything smashed and perhaps rolled over a precipice.
Along one after another came the passengers limping, being somewhat bruised up from their jump and roll, seeing Joseph on the drivers seat holding the lines they wanted to know “how the h he got up there?” The women was overjoyed and thanked Mr. Higbee, (so they called Joseph) and then told the company how he had saved her life and the life of her babe.
Wherever the stage stopped the story was told, the woman and the congressmen was loud in their praise of the bravery and daring of Mr. Higbee, until they came to the end of their journey.
The day after his arrival in Washington, Joseph met his traveling companions the congressmen, upon the street, with some of their friends; they gave him an introduction to their friends, and told of their perilous journey and Mr. Higbee’s brave exploit, etc. Joseph then explained to them, how that Mr. Higbee had bought the tickets for the journey in his own name, and when they had addressed himself as Mr. Higbee he had not corrected it, and he thought they would not blame him for not explaining this matter earlier, but now he would do so. He then told them he was Joseph Smith, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were very much astonished at this announcement; they had heard of “Old Joe Smith” and supposed him to be a very different looking person than the one before them.
They saw before them a finely proportioned young and intelligent man, about thirty four years of age, and if this the `Mormon Prophet’ they must hear him preach. A fine hall was obtained at considerable expense, which was well filled with the heads of the nation, and the elite of the city of Washington to whom he preached two evenings the pure principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have narrated this circumstance as near as possible as Joseph told it in my presence after his return to Nauvoo. This circumstance plainly shows that, “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
This very circumstance introduced him into the society of man of influence at the Nations Capital, and opened the way by which he could freely converse upon the persecutions of the people he represented, the wrongs they had endured from the hand of their enemies in the state of Missouri.
He presented to congress an eloquent memorial, plainly setting forth the crimes committed by the governor and other officials of the state of Missouri and urgently plead for redress. The memorial was read and referred to the committee on Judiciary which committee made a report in which they said, “The committee have examined the case presented by the petition, end the views urged by their agent with care and attention, and after a full examination and consideration, unanimously concur in the opinion, that the case presented for their investigation is not such as will justify or authorize any interposition by this Government . . . . . “The grievances complained of in the petition are alleged to have been done within the territory of the state of Missouri. The committee, under the circumstances; have not considered themselves justified in inquiring into the truth or falsehood of the facts charged in the petition. If they are true, the petitioners must seek relief in the court of Judicature of the state of Missouri”. . . .
This committee recommended a resolution, that they be discharged from further consideration of `memorial’ in the case and that `memorilists’ have leave to withdraw the papers which accompany their `memorial.’ Seek relief from Missouri preposterous!
Joseph also visited the president and laid the case of the Saints before him, but all his efforts were in vain. On one of his visits to President Martin Van Buren, He said to Joseph, “Your cause is just. But I can do nothing for you. If I take up for you I shall have all Missouri on my back, and I shall loose the vote of that state.”
Martin Van Buren exhibited himself in those few words to be a mean, contemptible, truckling sycophant, who being entrusted with the highest authority to govern a free people, dared not be just toward a small portion of his fellow citizens, who had been robbed and driven from their homes in the midst of a cold winter, to suffer all the hardships of hunger cold and storm, consequent upon such journeying under an exterminating order issued by the governor of the state of Missouri, Lilburn W. Boggs, for fear he would loose the vote of that state. What could brand him a coward, better or with more force than his own words?
At the conference held on the 6th April, 1840, Joseph gave an account of his mission to Washington having arrived home on the 4th day of March.
The conference called for the reading of the memorial, and also the report of the committee on judiciary to whom the memorial had been referred. After which a committee of five was chosen to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the conference in reference to the report. Robert D. Foster, Orson Hyde, John E. Page, Robert B. Thompson, and Joseph Wood, were selected for this committee, they were instructed to report to the conference next day, when Robert B. Thompson of the committee read the following resolutions:
“Whereas, we learn with deep sorrow, regret and disappointment, that the committee on Judiciary to whom was referred the memorial of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–commonly called Mormons–complaining of the grievances suffered by them in the state of Missouri, have reported unfavorable to our cause, to justice and humanity, Therefore,
Resolved, 1st. That we consider the report of the committee on judiciary, unconstitutional, and subversive of the rights of a free people; and justly calls for the disapprobation of all the supporters and lovers of good government and republican principles.
Resolved, 2nd. That, the committee state in their report that our memorial aggravate the case of our oppressors, and at the same time say; that they have not examined into the truth or falsehoods of the facts, mentioned in said memorial.
Resolved, 3rd. That, the memorial does not aggravate the conduct of our oppressors, as every statement set forth in said memorial was substantiated by indubitable testimony, therefore we consider the statement of the committee in regard to that part: as false and ungenerous.
Resolved, 4th. That, that part of the report, referring to the justice and magnanimity of the state of Missouri for redress; we deem it a great insult to our good sense, better judgment, and intelligence; when from numerous affidavits which were laid before the committee: proved that we could only go into the state of missouri, contrary to the exterminating order of the governor, and consequently at the risk of our lives.
Resolved, 5th. That after repeated appeals to the constituted authorities of the state of Missouri for redress, which were in vain; we fondly hoped that in the Congress of the United States ample justice would have been rendered up: and upon that consideration alone, we pledged ourselves to abide their decision.
Resolved, 6th. That the exterminating order of Governor Boggs, is a direct infraction of the constitution of the United States, and of the state of Missouri and the committee in refusing to investigate the proceedings of the executive and others of the state of Missouri, and turning a deaf ear, to the cries of widows, orphans, and innocent blood, we deem no less, than secondary the proceedings of that murderous mob, whose deeds are recorded in heaven, and justly calls down upon their heads the righteous judgments of an offended God.
Resolved, 7th. That the thanks of this meeting be tendered to the citizens of the state of Illinois, for their kind, liberal, and generous conduct towards us; and that we call upon them, as well as every patriot in this vast republic, to aid us in all lawful endeavors, to obtain redress for the injuries we have sustained.
Resolved, 8th. That the thanks of this meeting be tendered to the delegation of Illinois, for their bold, manly, noble and independent course they have taken, in presenting our case before the authorities of the nation, amid misrepresentation, contumely and abuse which characterized us in our suffering condition.
Resolved, 9th. That the thanks of this meeting be tendered to Governor Carlin of Illinois, Governor Lucas of Iowa for their sympathy, aid, and protection. And to all other honorable gentlemen who have assisted us in our endeavors to obtain redress.
Resolved, 10th. That Joseph Smith Jr., Sidney Rigdon, and Elias Higbee, the delegates appointed by this church, to visit the city of Washington to present our sufferings before the authorities of the nation, accept of the thanks of this meeting, for the prompt and efficient manner in which they have discharged their duty and that they be requested in the behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, throughout the world, to continue to use their endeavors to obtain redress for a suffering people; and if all hope of obtaining satisfaction–for the injuries done us:–be entirely blasted, that they appeal our case to the court of heaven, believing, that the great Jehovah, who rules over the destiny of nations, and who notices the falling sparrow, will undoubtedly redress our wrongs, and ere long avenge us of our adversaries.
In the summer of 1840 I moved my family to Augusta, Des Moines County about twenty miles from Montrose. I was engaged to build a mill with Brother Lyman Whitney, we together hired a house which had been built to accommodate two families Brother Whitney moved his family in one part, and I and my family moved into the other.
A branch of the church had been organized in this place, Elder Ira Ames presiding. We had good meetings and enjoyed the spirit of the gospel; we also had plenty of opposition from those who had apostatized from the church and from Sectarian Ministers, who seemed to think it their business to abuse the Mormons. One day, soon after my arrival, I went into a store to make some purchases. I saw a well-dressed man in conversation with some of the residents and from their conversation I learned that he was a minister and that he was very anxious to hold a debate with a Mormon elder. But, he said, “He must be a very intelligent Mormon.” He seemed to think the Mormons did not possess that quality. Someone present introduced me to him, stating that I was a Mormon elder. I thought he looked me over rather with derision, however we soon became very warm in the conversation which ensued. He held a Bible in his hand from which he read, and tried to show that Mormonism was a delusion and he denounced it. I defended it by the scriptures. He misquoted the scriptures while pretending to read from the Bible. I corrected them from memory, but this he would not allow, so let me read out of his Bible a few times, but finding himself detected by his words he would not let me have the Bible any more.
The store keeper was much interested and brought out a large family Bible and laid it on the counter for my use. By this time the store was filled with an attentive audience. When he found that he could not maintain his position by misapplying and misreading the scriptures (for I read the same passages out of the big Bible), he showed up his dishonesty in his anxiety to blind the people and traduce the doctrines of Mormonism, which I presented as the gospel of Jesus Christ and necessary to salvation. I saw when he could not bring these principles into contempt he then tried abuse and ridicule, vilifying the character of the Prophet Joseph Smith and repeating all the lies which had been circulated about him.
At this my patience was well nigh exhausted and I told him I knew the Prophet Joseph Smith, whose character he was trying to defame. I said I was very well acquainted with him and that the lies that were being circulated about him were a lot of infernal nonsense. At this expression, he put on a very sanctimonious air and turned away from me saying, “I don’t wish to debate with a man who will swear”!! Here was a man professedly intelligent and very learned, who wanted to debate with a very intelligent Mormon and yet as I told him, did not understand the English language. Someone present asked me to define the word for the gentleman’s benefit and at the same time inquiring if the word `infernal’ could be construed as swearing. I answered no, no such construction could be placed upon it. `Infernal’ meant anything devilish, mean, hellish or wicked. I had full freedom and explained to them the first principles of the gospel. I advised the very `learned gentleman’, as he had been so confounded by a clodhopper,–so he seemed to think me to be–he had better let the `very intelligent’ Mormons alone.
Those present during this time were mostly the business men of the town and they were so disgusted with his abuse and insults toward me and the people I represented, that they would not let him have a place to preach in. They were non-professors of religion, such as I have always found to be more liberal and fair-minded toward the Mormons than are those who preach for hire and divine for money. They are as a rule honest in their convictions.
The settlements of the Saints, or branches of the Church on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, were organized into a stake; and John Smith, uncle to the Prophet Joseph, was the president of this stake of Zion. When Uncle John, as he was familiarly called, visited Augusta in going his rounds in the stake, he stopped at my house and we would then hear the news of our friends and the progress being made at Nauvoo. Those visits were much appreciated by us and the instructions we received from him was of great benefit. I frequently returned with him to Nauvoo, especially at conference time which was held in April and October, when we would expect to receive instructions from Joseph and learn of the progress of the work of God.
At the general conference held in October of this year 1840, President Joseph Smith spoke of the necessity of building a house of the Lord in Nauvoo. During the conference it was resolved that the Saints build a house for the worship of God and at the same time Reynolds Cahoon, Elias Higbee and Alpheus Cutler are appointed a committee to build the same. A motion was made and a resolution also, “that a commencement would be made ten days from that date and that every tenth day be appropriated for the building of this said house.”
The people were still very poor but nevertheless the work was commenced at the time appointed and the work continued until completed although it required a great amount of means. The churches were diligent and though the Saints were called to pass through much affliction and poverty, their hands never slackened. About this time my son, John, was taken very sick. Although quite young he had great confidence in the ordinance of laying on of hands by the elders for the healing of the sick.
He frequently would call on me to administer to him, then he would be relieved of pain for a short time, then he would again be in great distress. I felt that there was something very peculiar about this sickness as every time I came from work and he heard my footsteps, he called me to lay hands upon him. Several times in the night he would awaken me with, “Oh father, come and lay hands on me.” I could not understand the meaning of this, night and day for several days this continued, the administrations seemed to have little effect and I became weary and depressed in spirit.
One evening upon returning from work as usual and as soon as I entered the house, the same call came from my boy, “Oh, father, come lay hands on me.” I called to Brother Whitney to come and assist me and together we laid our hands upon his head while Brother Whitney offered up prayer in his behalf. While he was praying a sinking, death-like feeling came over and it was with the greatest exertion that I was enabled to keep my hands on his head. I feared to take them off least a bad affect might follow. My suffering was so great, it seemed to me Brother Whitney would never get through with his prayer, although he was no longer than was usual.
This administration had the desired effect, the Lord had respect to his servants and my son recovered. Our joy however was of but a short duration, for Brother Whitney’s family, one member after another, being seized by the same influence which had afflicted our son; we were frequently called upon to administer to them. Sister Whitney was also prostrated by the same disease. In a short space of time, every member of both families was similarly affected. We no sooner retired to bed at night than we were called up by one of the children, we administered to that one, and it was relieved–for they suffered great pain and distress–and we again retired to our beds, only to be called up by another and so on, all through the night, sometimes it was a member of Brother Whitney’s family and sometimes one of mine, we ourselves became very much depressed in spirit because there seemed to be something so unusual the matter, but what it was we did not know.
In the following morning we went to work as usual and when we returned home at noon we found my wife very sick. We began to realize the true situation. She had been indefatigable in nursing the sick and had borne up bravely until now. It was a new experience to be thus baffled by the powers of darkness, that such was the case was manifest in the condition of my wife who was a firm believer in the gospel. She had borne unflinchingly every trial every trial she had been called to pass through; she had all the confidence in the ordinances of the Holy Priesthood for the healing of the sick it was possible to have; but now worn out by anxiety and nursing the sick, and weak in body, she seemed unable longer to resist the evil influences surrounding her.
Usually when she was taken sick her first wish was to call upon the elders, but now as we approached her and laid our hands upon her head she resisted, the devil manifesting itself through her defying us saying we had no power to cast it out. For awhile I walked the floor talking to her, being convinced that all our troubles arose from the influence of the powers of darkness. I invited Brother Whitney to take a walk with me.
We walked some distance away from the town until we reached a secluded spot in the timber. There we both poured out our souls to God in supplication, beseeching him to hear our prayers and give us power to cast out those unclean spirits and devils that were distressing our families. We returned to the house to find my wife lying upon the bed just as we had left her. Her face was almost scarlet with the fever and in her eyes a terrible brightness and as defiant as before.
I went to the bedside, then I said, “Come Brother Whitney we will again lay our hands on and administer to her,” and we, together administered by laying our hands on her head and with all the power we held by virtue of the Priesthood of the Son of God we rebuked the devil and every evil spirit and power in the name of Jesus Christ. When we had ceased praying and took our hands off her head, she had fainted. When this passed off she was extremely weak, almost lifeless but in her right mind. We then went through the house and laid our hands upon each member of our families and rebuked the evil spirits in the name of Jesus Christ and commanded them to depart from the house and trouble us no more. Our prayers were heard and answered, the powers of darkness were rebuked. My wife recovered and we were disturbed no more. We praised God who delivered us out of this great affliction.
Shortly after this occurrence, Uncle John again visited us, during his stay we related to him our experience, and learned from him that the elders who were in England had suffered much from the same powers. When some of the Twelve Apostles and other elders commenced their labors in that country, they found many honest souls prepared to receive their testimony, and at the same time, they were sorely afflicted by the powers of darkness, which seemed determined to destroy their lives and thus stop the work of God in that country.
They called upon the Lord in mighty prayer, and He heard them, and delivered them from his grasp, their eyes were also opened, and they saw distinctly the evil spirits that was afflicting them, raging and foaming and gnashing their teeth.
Having some business that required my presence at Montrose I accompanied President John Smith on his return, and as our horses jogged along he continued the subject. Although Satan raged he could not stop the progress of the work, the gospel spread rapidly and in a very short time the principle cities, and counties had faithful elders laboring in them.
In Staffordshire, a branch of the church was organized at the Potteries and Elder Alfred Cordon was president among those who embraced the gospel at this place were some who had practiced magic, or astrology. They had books which had been landed down for many generations, they also had two stones, about the size of goose eggs, they were rough uncouth looking stones, one end was flattened so they could be placed on a table.
When they wished to gain information from this source, they would place these stones upon a table, and kneel down and pray to one who they addressed as Sameazer, which they called charging the stones, when upon looking into them they saw what they sought, for instance, a young woman, whose sister joined the church and emigrated to Nauvoo, not hearing from her, became very anxious, and to learn something about her went to one of these astrologers, or magicians to inquire if her sister was well–or something about her. The magician after charging the stones as before explained, told her to look into them.
The young woman did so and said she saw her sister sitting upon something but could not describe what kind of a seat it was–by the side of a curious looking house, and apparently in good health. This satisfied her that her sister was safe and well, but the house and the seat her sister was on she could not understand what it could be.
The young woman afterwards joined the church and came to her sister who was living on a farm a short distance from Nauvoo, a worm fence enclosed the farm and log house and it was upon this fence near the log house she had seen her sister sitting when she looked into the magicians stones in Scaffordshire, England.
This is the substance of the narration as I heard it from Uncle John. Sometime after I moved to Nauvoo I became acquainted with Elder Alfred Cordon, who related to me the same, he also said, the books with the stones were placed in his hands by these men after they joined the church, and he gave them to Apostle George A. Smith who destroyed the books, but put the stones in the bottom of his trunk and brought them to Nauvoo. He gave them to Joseph the prophet who pronounced them to be a Urim and Thummim as good as ever was upon the earth but he said, “they have been consecrated to devils.”
By the foregoing relation of fact we see that the same power which was made manifest in Egypt in opposition to Moses the servant of God where he was called to deliver the Hebrews from bondage is still in existence, need we be surprised if it is exerted to oppose the establishment of the kingdom of God in the last days, when wickedness shall be swept from the earth and righteousness reign triumphant?
Saul, King of Israel, when he had transgressed and could get no word of the Lord by dream nor by Urim and Thummim, nor by the prophets, sought out the witch of Endor by night in disguise, and prayed her to divine unto him by the familiar spirit. 1st Samuel, 28th chapter, 8-18 verses.
April conference 1841 was more than usual an important assembly, or gathering, and great numbers of people, far and near both Saints and strangers assembled together in Nauvoo, on the 6th of April to witness the laying of the corner stones of the [Nauvoo] temple, which was to be built, wherein the Saints might worship in an acceptable manner before God.
The weather was fine and everything conspired to make it a day never to be forgotten by those who participated in, or witnessed the ceremony.
It will be quite appropriate here, to present a communication from the pen of my esteemed friend and brother in the gospel, Elder Robert B. Thompson, and published in the Times and Seasons at the time. It is forty seven years since this occurrence, although they are fresh before me even now. I deem the following recital of facts much better than I could give them after so long a lapse of time. He commences thus: “Oh that I could paint the scenes, which on my heart are sketched.”
“The general conference of the church together with the laying of the corner stones of the temple of our God, now building in this city, have long been anticipated by the Saints of the Most High, both far and near, with great pleasure, when they should once more behold the foundation of a house laid on which they might worship the God of their fathers.
“It frequently happens, that our anticipations of pleasure and delight, are raised to such a height that even exceeds the enjoyment itself, but we are happy to say, this was not the case with the immense multitude who witnessed the proceedings of the sixth of April, and subsequent days of conference. The scenes were of such a character, the enjoyment so intense that left anticipation far behind.
“However anxious we are to portray the grandeur and majesty of the celebrations, the union and order which every way prevailed, we are confident, we shall come far short of doing them justice.
“For some days prior to the sixth, the accession of strangers to our city was great, and on the wide spread prairie, which bounds our city, might be seen various kinds of vehicles wending their way from different points of the compass to the city of Nauvoo, while the ferry boats of the Mississippi, were constantly employed in wafting travellers across its rolling and extensive bosom.
“Among the citizens, all was bustle and preparation, anxious to accommodate their friends who flocked in from distant parts, and who they expected to share with them the festivity of the day, and the pleasures of the scene.
“At length, the long expected morn arrived, and before the king of day had tipped the eastern horizon with his rays, were preparation for the celebration of the day going on. Shortly after sunrise the loud peals from the artillery were heard, calling the various companies of the legion to the field, who were appointed to take a conspicuous part in the day’s proceedings.
The citizens from the vicinity, now began to pour in from all quarters, a continuous train, for about three hours and continued to swell the vast assembly.
At eight o’clock a.m. Major General Bennett left his quarters to organize and prepare the legion for the duties of the day, which consisted of about fourteen companies, several in uniform, besides several companies from Iowa, and other parts of the county, which joined them on this occasion.
“At half past nine Lieutenant General Smith was informed that the Legion was organized and ready for review, and immediately accompanied by his staff, consisting of four aids-de-camp, and twelve guards, nearly all in splendid uniforms, took his march to the parade ground.
“On their approach they were met by the band, beautifully equipped, who received them with a flourish of trumpets and a regular salute, and then struck up a lively air, marching in front to the stand of the Lieutenant General. On his approach to the parade ground the artillery was again fired, and the Legion gave an appropriate salute while passing. This was indeed a glorious sight, such as we never saw, nor did we ever expect to see such a one in the west. The several companies, presented a beautiful and interesting spectacle, several of them being uniformed and equipped, while the rich and costly dresses of the officers, would have become a Bonaparte or a Washington.
“After the arrival of Lieutenant General Smith, the ladies who had made a beautiful silk flag, drove up in a carriage to present it to the Legion. Major General Bennett, very politely attended on them, and conducted them in front of Lieutenant General Smith, who immediately alighted from his charger, and walked up to the ladies, who presented the flag, making an appropriate address.
“Lieutenant General Smith acknowledged the honor conferred upon the Legion, and stated that as long as he had the command, it should never be disgraced; and then politely bowing to the ladies gave it into the hands of Major General Bennett, who placed it in possession of Cornet Robinson, and it was soon seen gracefully waving in front of the Legion. During the time of presentation, the band struck up a lively air, and another salute was fired from the artillery.
After the presentation of the flag Lieutenant General Smith, accompanied by his suit, reviewed the Legion, which presented a very imposing appearance, the different officers saluting as he passed. Lieutenant General Smith then took his former stand and the whole Legion by companies passed before him in review.
Lieutenant General Smith, Brigadier Generals Law and Smith, Aids-de-camp, and conspicuous strangers, General Staff, Band, 2nd Cohort, (foot troops,) Ladies eight abreast, Gentleman eight abreast, 1st Cohort, (horse troops.)
“Owing to the vast numbers who joined in the procession, it has a considerable length of time before the whole could be organized.
“The procession then began to move forward in order, and on their arrival at the temple block, the generals with their staffs and the distinguished strangers present, took their position inside of the foundation, the ladies formed on the outside immediately next the walls, the gentleman and infantry behind, and the cavalry in the rear.
“The assembly being stationed, the choristers, under the superintendence of B. S. Wilber, sang an appropriate hymn. President Rigdon, then ascended the platform, which had been prepared for the purpose, and delivered a suitable, `Oration’, which was listened to with the most profound attention by the assembly. From the long affliction and weakness of body we hardly expected the speaker to have made himself heard by the congregation, but he succeeded beyond our most sanguine expectations, and being impressed with the greatness and solemnities of the occasion, he rose superior to his afflictions and weakness and for more than an hour occupied the attention of the assembly.
“It was an address worthy a man of God, and a messenger of salvation. We have heard the speaker on other occasions when he has been more eloquent, when there was more harmony and beauty in the construction of his sentences, and when the refined ear has been more delighted; but never did we hear him pour out such pious effusions in short it was full to overflowing, of christian feeling and high toned piety.
“He called to review the scenes of tribulation and anguish through which the Saints had passed, the barbarous cruelties inflicted upon them for their faith and attachment to the cause of their God, and for the testimony of Jesus, which, they endured with patience, knowing that they had in heaven a more enduring substance, a crown of eternal glory.
“In obedience to the commandment of their Heavenly Father, and because that Jesus had again spoken from the heavens, were they engaged in laying the foundation of the [Nauvoo] temple that the Most High might have an habitation, and where the Saints might assemble to pay their devotions to his holy name. He rejoiced at the glorious prospect which presented itself of soon completing the edifice, as there were no mobs to hinder them in their labors, consequently their circumstances were very different than before.
“After the address, the choir sung a hymn. President Rigdon then invoked the blessings of Almighty God upon the assembly, and upon those who should labor on the building. The first presidency superintended the laying of the Chief Corner Stone on the south east corner of the building, which done, President J. Smith, arose and said, that the first corner stone of the temple of Almighty God was laid, and prayed that the building might soon be completed, that the Saints might have an habitation to worship the God of their fathers.
“President D. C. Smith and his counsellors, of the high priests quorum, then repaired to the south west corner and laid the corner stone thereof. The High Council representing the Twelve laid the north west corner stone. The Bishops with their counsellors laid the north east corner stone with due solemnities.
“The ceremony of laying the corner stones being over, the Legion marched to the parade ground, and formed a hollow square for an address. Major General Bennett addressed the Legion at some length, applauding them for their soldier-like appearance, and for the attention which both officers and men had given to the orders. Lieutenant General Smith, likewise expressed his entire approbation of the conduct of the Legion and all present.
“The assembly then separated with cheerful hearts, and thanking God for the great blessings of peace and prosperity by which they were surrounded, and hearts burning with affection for their favorite and adopted state.
“It was indeed a gladsome sight, and extremely affecting, to see the old revolutionary patriots, who bad been driven from their homes in Missouri, strike hands, and rejoice together, in a land where they knew they would be protected from mobs, and where they could enjoy the liberty for which they had fought many a hard battle.
“The day was indeed propitious heaven and earth combined to make the scene as glorious as possible, and long, very long, will the 6th of April A.D. 1841 be remembered by the many thousand who were present. The whole passed off with perfect harmony and good feeling. The people were truly of one heart and mind, no contention or discord, even persons unconnected with the church forgot their prejudices, and for once took pleasure in the society of the Saints, admiring their order and unanimity, and undoubtedly received favorable impressions by their visit.
“Too much praise cannot be given to Major General Bennett for his active services on the occasion, he has labored diligently for the prosperity of the city, and particularly for the Legion, and it must have been a proud day for him, and entirely satisfactory, to see his efforts crowned with success and his labor so well bestowed.
R. B. Thompson.
The next day the seventh of April conference assembled and was continued several days. A revelation was read which had been received by the prophet Joseph since the last conference, which was given January 19th 1841, and can be found in the present edition of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants Section 124. President Sidney Rigdon delivered a discourse on the `baptism for the dead’. Joseph followed giving much valuable instruction upon this subject. He also spoke upon the necessity of building the [Nauvoo] temple, and the Nauvoo House, he said that, “labor on the temple would be as acceptable to the Lord as preaching to the world.”
The conference throughout, from the laying of the corner stones of the temple to its close, was replete with instruction of a very high order, pertaining to salvation for the living and also for the dead, and was a very joyous occasion never to be forgotten, by me at least.
In November 1841 the Iowa stake conference was held at Augusta during which I was called upon a mission among the branches of the church, “to preach the gospel and set in order the affairs of the church, and the things that are wanting in whatsoever place or branch they shall come.” Alvin E. Greaves was my companion. When we completed this mission having set in order the business we were sent to do, we returned to our homes, and I immediately began preparations to move my family to Nauvoo in accordance with the following instructions:
“To the Saints abroad.”
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, anxious to promote the prosperity of said church, feel it their duty to call upon the Saints who reside out of this county, to make preparations to come in without delay. This is important, and should be attended to by all who feel an interest in the prosperity of this the corner stone of Zion.
Here the [Nauvoo] temple must be raised, the university be built and other edifices erected which are necessary for the great work of the last days and which can only be done by a concentration of energy and enterprise. Let it therefore be understood, that all the stakes, excepting those in this county, and in Lee County, Iowa are discontinued, and the Saints instructed to settle in this county as soon as circumstances will permit.
Joseph Smith. City of Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois. May 24th 1841
While living in Augusta I found many friends among the nonprofessors of religion, but from those who are called “Reverends” who preach for hire and divine for money such did not show much kindness, especially after some discussions I held with them, in which they were confounded. They show so much veneration and zeal for the `Holy Bible’ and will hug it to their bosom, `when closed’, as a something very precious. But, let an elder a `Mormon’ open it and preach the pure principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ as he thought them, and they are offended. Why is this so?, is it because they love the darkness more than the light of truth as revealed in the good book, and which are given for our profit and “learning, that; we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” or is it; because it is offered without money and without price? “No every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not?”
The Apostle Paul in his second epistle to Timothy 4th, chapter 3 verse says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itchy ears, and they shall turn from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.”
“They hold no authority from God and cannot stand before one who has been commissioned from on high, receiving his authority and `called of God, as was Aaron.’ The same apostle writing to the Hebrew brethren says, 5th chapter, 4 verse “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” These `Reverend’ salaried preachers, all acknowledge they have not been called in this way,–by revelation–for say they, `the canon of scripture is full and we need no more revelation’, consequently they like Demetrius of old, see their “craft is in danger.”
Those who professed no religion, or some called them infidel, I found to be liberal in their views, always ready to listen, or enter into argument upon topics of religion as well as any other subject. Upon one occasion while at work upon a mill for a Mr. Moffat, he sent a boy to me saying he wanted to see me at his house, upon my arrival he–Mr. Moffat–ushered me into the parlor and introduced me to a stranger; this over I sat down wondering why I had been sent for as they resumed conversation by which I learned the stranger was a Roman Catholic Priest visiting among his flock Mrs. Moffat being one of them.
Mr. Moffat being one of those liberal minded men, and fond of listening to the argument of those holding opposite religious views, and being acquainted with me from the time I first moved into the town, wanted to see how I would proceed with a Catholic. He had heard me in debate or argument with every one that came there to oppose Mormonism, it made no difference but here was an opportunity to learn how Mormonism would stand before Catholicism, by bringing the new Mormon creed, and the old Catholic creed together, I saw this to be the case when in the course of the conversation Mr. Moffat referred to me upon some point and thus brought the conversation between the Catholic Priest and the Mormon elder, while he sat and listened attentively.
I thought at this point the priest took a general survey of my appearance, in my shirt sleeves and working dress, and of himself dressed in fine broadcloth drawing a comparison between us, as if I was scarcely worthy of his notice.
He talked of the immensity of the Catholic Church, he told their numbers in different countries and said the Roman Catholic, being the oldest church extant, held the precedence and should be heard before any other, and their missionaries were in every land preaching the gospel. As I sat and listened to his remarks, a passage in the book of Doctrine and Covenants came very forcibly to my mind, “Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach the children of men the things which I have put into your hands by the power of my Spirit, and ye are to be taught from on high.”
As soon as an opportunity presented itself I said to him, “My dear sir, I doubt very much if you have ever heard a gospel sermon in your life!” He looked at me in astonishment. I then proceeded to preach to him a gospel sermon, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of sins, baptism by immersion for remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I referred him to the sermon of Peter on the day of Pentecost, the people became “pricked in their heart”, and cried “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Peter told them to “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” But, said I those ordinances must be performed by one having authority from Jesus Christ as Peter held it to minister in his name, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby man can be saved. But, I asked, where can we find those who hold this authority? Where can it be found?
Said he, “We, have a regular succession of the priesthood from the apostle Peter until now, and the Roman Catholic is the only Church that can show a success of authority, all others are apostate from the church of Rome.”
“But Sir, it appears from the revelations of St. John that while he was on the Isle of Patmos he had a vision of the future from him. He saw a time when the gospel was not upon the earth, and he said `He saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, fear God and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgments is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water.'”
“From this vision it appears the gospel was not upon the earth, and it was necessary to send an angel to restore it to earth. Now sir, has that angel communicated that gospel to you? Are you preaching the gospel from the fact that the angel John saw in vision has authorized you to minister in the ordinances of the gospel?”
He replied by informing me, that “the gospel was established upon the earth by the Savior and his apostle; that the Roman Catholic Church had sent the gospel by missionaries all over the world and established the church everywhere; they had a regular succession of priesthood and authority to preach the gospel, and consequently they did not look for an angel to bring to them that which they already possessed; there was no need of doing so, seeing the church was so firmly established; its numbers were continually increasing, and it had spread, and would continue to spread to the ends of the earth.”
“But Sir, if that angel has not already made his appearance with this all important message, he will do so, for the `gospel of the kingdom of God, must be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come;’ but sir, if what you say is true, that the gospel is on the earth and firmly established from the time the Savior and his apostles was upon the earth, what could even an angel do? but return to the courts of heaven and report to those who sent him, the work was all done, and he found himself sent upon a very foolish errand.” I bore to him a faithful testimony that the angel John saw, had made his appearance to Joseph Smith, and brought to earth the everlasting gospel, with all the gifts and blessings as they were enjoyed by the Saints anciently. When I had borne my testimony to the great work of the last days he was silent, he had no more to say.
Mr. Moffat had been an attentive listener and expressed his pleasure; he found Catholicism would not stand before the truths of the gospel as revealed through the great prophet of the last days, any better than other sects, Catholicism as all others are devoid of the authority of the Holy Priesthood of the Son of God, and although each will accept and incorporate in their creed a small portion of truth, they reject other portions as not necessary to salvation, causing jarring, and controversy among all the sects of christendom, and many to look upon religion and the Bible as inconsistent, as well as the God they worship; which they represent as being a God without body, parts, or passions,–a nothing–who could conceive of a better plan to make infidels or atheists, than such inconsistency?
Inconsistency, such is the conclusion such men arrive at, say they, there is no God but nature; If there was a God, there would not be so much strife and contention among men who profess to serve him, and take the Bible for their guide, all religious denominations profess to be founded on the Bible yet they widely differ, and if all their different creeds are taught from the Bible, then that book contradicts itself and is not a reliable guide, consequently they discard all forms of religion with the Bible and also their God. Of such men was the great infidel Abner Neiland, who was imprisoned for blaspheming the Sectarian God.
A cousin of the latter lived in Augusta, upon one occasion when in a conversation with him I spoke of God, said he, “Pshaw, what do you know about God”?–He was standing upon a rock–lifting his foot and there bringing it down heavily upon the rock–he said, “This is my God, all nature is my God.”
“Well said I, I can take your God–this rock–and break it into pieces and fashion it as I please, or I can grind it to powder, I would not worship such a God.
“Well, but what do you know about God, You don’t know anything about God only what men tell you. Did you ever see God? tell me, What is the height of your God, and what is his probable weight? What is the color of his eyes? and what the color of his hair? and what is his complexion?” He talked on in this strain some length of time when I said, Mr. Neiland, did you ever see the President of the United States?
“No”, said he, “I have lived till I am now an old man,”–he told me his age–“and I have never seen a President of the United States.”
I replied, “Pshaw, what do you know about the President of the United States? You don’t know about the President anything, only what men tell you. Tell me what is the height of your President, and what is his probable weight? What is the color of the eyes of your President and what is the color of his hair? and what is his complexion? Now you, blame me for believing there is a God, on the same principle that you believe there is a President of the United States.
“Ah! But there is a connection between the President of the U. S. and myself, through the various departments of law, and Courts of Justice, having officers to minister in each department, and these officers reach me and demonstrate to me the undisputed fact, that there is a President of the United States”.
I answered him, “Upon the same principle that you know there is a President, you not having seen him, I know there is a God. There is a channel of communication between God and myself, through the officers appointed to communicate his will to his children who dwell upon the earth; and every department is as perfectly organized as any that you rely upon and more so, for, the laws of God change not, while the laws of man, may, and do change. Mormonism embraces all truth and our God is the god of the Bible, and is a god of power and of love, who can hear and answer those who seek after him, holy men testify of him having seen and heard as having talked with him face to face which facts are recorded in the Bible.
This same God has manifested himself to men in our day, men whom we know, and I have heard bore this testimony, that they have seen God, and that he lives.
During the summer of 1842, I moved into Nauvoo, I bought two lots with the improvements thereon, brick, lime and lumber was on the ground already for building, as soon as possible I had built a comfortable house and moved my family into it. Some time during the winter I was engaged by Mr. Hyrum Kimball to start an iron foundry.
During the winter, the long evenings were utilized for improvement in public speaking. Lyceums or lecturing schools were opened, and it is surprising how much good was accomplished in attending a lyceum one winter, the new members at the commencement of the school would only occupy a few minutes of their time, but before the winter was gone they could occupy all the half hour allotted them and then had scarcely time enough.
Our lyceum was composed of eighteen members, each presided over the meeting in turn, one of the principles of the gospel was chosen as a subject, and each member spoke an half hour upon it, three evenings was taken up with the one principle, before another was touched, six members occupied the first evening, the second evening six other members spoke upon the same subject, and the remaining six occupied the third evening; so that each one of the eighteen had equal time and opportunity to talk upon the subject.
It was very curious how the same subject would be handled by different men, each member presenting it in a manner peculiar to himself, all coming to the same conclusion, by the evidence adduced from the scriptures; there was no jarring, no contention nor discord, and all were entertained, instructed and edified. Joseph encouraged us by his presence whenever practicable, giving us instructions and assistance. He would tell the brethren to, “Get into your lyceums, and investigate doctrine, and if you run against a snag, I am here, I will help you off. There were days and nights of pleasure and profit,–to listen to a prophets voice and receive instruction from one who communed with angels and received his instruction from on high when or wherever I met him, whether in the lyceum, on the street, or at home, he spoke forth words of light and intelligence for the salvation of mankind. For the approaching conference a rough floor was laid in the foundation of the [Nauvoo] temple, the walk was up about half way of the windows of the first story.
Conference convened within the walls of the [Nauvoo] temple on the 6th day of April 1843. The meeting called to order in the usual way Joseph arose and said, “One object of this conference was to ascertain the standing of the First Presidency, which he would do by presenting himself for trial.” He asked if they were satisfied with him to preside over the whole church, or would they have another said he, “If I have done anything that ought to injure my character, reputation, or standing or have dishonored our religion by any means, in the sight of men or angels, or in the sight of men and women, I am sorry for it and if you will forgive me, I will endeavor to do so no more. I do not know that I have done anything of the kind; but if I have, come forward and tell me of it, I want you to come boldly and frankly, and tell me of it and if not ever after hold your peace.
“A motion was made and seconded that `President Joseph Smith continue President of the whole church.’ After a few minutes silence the motion was put by Brigham Young, President of the Twelve, when one vast sea of hands was raised, the motion being carried unanimously.
“Joseph returned his thanks to the Saints for the manifestation of their confidence and said, he `would serve them according to the best ability God should, give him.’ He said, he did not know anything against the Twelve or he would present them for trial. He spoke of the propriety of sending the Twelve to collect means for the [Nauvoo] temple and the Nauvoo House. He “was opposed to my man handling the public funds of the church who is not duly authorized, the Twelve are the most suitable persons to perform this business and I want this conference to devise some means to bind them as firm as the pillars of heaven if possible. The Twelve was always honest, and it will do them no hurt to bind them.”
Joseph explained why he wanted this course pursued, he said, “Money had been sent by individuals coming to Nauvoo, and it had not been paid over to those authorized to receive it, and also to elders who had used the money for their own benefit, and I want it understood, that money should be paid only to duly authorized persons, and that should be the Twelve, and they should give the donors a receipt for the money’s received.”
This was received and voted upon unanimously by the conference, viz, “that the Twelve be appointed a committee to collect funds to build the [Nauvoo] temple, and the Nauvoo House, and receive moneys for the same with this provision, “That the Twelve give bonds for the safe delivery of all funds coming into their hands belonging to the Nauvoo House, and temple, to the trustee in trust, and that the instruction of President Smith be carried out.”
“A large number of elders was called at this conference to go on missions, I was of the number but being already engaged to work on the [Nauvoo] temple I was released from the mission. For, while I was working at Mr. Kimballs Iron Foundry, the temple committee found difficulty in getting an experienced hand to frame some masts to hoist the stone onto the walls of the temple so applied to me. I thereupon engaged to do the work of building three masts and cranes to be used for that purpose, which when completed was perfectly satisfactory to the temple committee, I was then engaged by them and the architect William Weeks to draft and superintend the framing of all the timber work of the temple, commencing on the ground and throughout to the top of the tower. This was the most complicated piece of timber work or framing I ever done, and was the most easily accomplished. I was also called to draft and superintend the timber work, the framing etc. of the Nauvoo House, Arsenal and other public buildings. On the temple grounds, I built a saw mill to saw plank and such small timbers as was needed.
About this time there was much speculation about the second coming of the Son of Man. A sect called Second Adventists, or Millerites was looking for his coming on the 3rd day of April, 1843 and were making ready for the judgment day. The unbeliever in their predictions, made sport of their devotions, and tried to make it appear that the Mormons had a rival in Mr. Miller, because they also believed in the second coming of the Savior.
It seems strange how intelligent men and women can become so carried away with an idea so in opposition to the Savior’s own words, who said, “The day nor the hour no man knoweth, no, not even the angels of heaven, but my father only.”
Also, one Hiram Redding of Ogle, County stated that `he’ had seen the sign of the Son of Man in heaven as foretold in the 24th Matthew. Joseph upon seeing this statement in a newspaper, wrote, “Notwithstanding Mr. Redding may have seen a wonderful appearance in the clouds, one morning about sunrise,–which is nothing very uncommon in the winter season,–(see Times and Seasons 1 March 1843) he has not seen the sign of the Son of Man, as foretold by Jesus neither has any man, nor will any man, till after the sun shall have been darkened, and the moon bathed in blood, for the Lord hath not shown me any such sign, and the prophet saith, `Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets.’ (see Amos 3rd & 7th), `Therefore, hear this, O earth, the Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843; nor until everything for the bridegroom is ready.”
I have watched with much interest the words spoken by the prophet Joseph upon this subject in public and in private, and the difference between his expressions in regard to the second coming of the Savior, and those of Mr. Miller, and others show very plainly the truth from the false.
Joseph said speaking upon this subject and quoting the 24th Matthew, “there will be wars and rumors of wars” and said he, “in our own land state will be arrayed against state, county against county, neighborhood against neighborhood, father will be against his son and son against his father; mother against her daughter and daughter against her mother: and he that will not lift up his sword against his neighbor must needs flee to Zion for safety.”
He said, “I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties, which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man, will be in South Carolina; It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25 1832.” Again. “I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following,–`Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.’ I was thus left, without being able to decide, whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man, will not be sooner than that time.”
At another time Joseph said, “The Son of Man will not come this year for I have seen the bow, The Lord gave me a sign and said, “In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come but there should be seed time and harvest during that year; but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant.”
“I will take the responsibility upon myself to prophecy in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come this year–as Father Miller has prophesied–for we have seen the bow and I also prophecy that Christ will not come in forty years; and if ever God spoke by my mouth, he will not come in that length of time. Brethren when you go home, write this down, that it may be remembered.”
“Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that he would come. Go and read the scriptures, you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour he would come; and all that say so are false teachers.”
“There is much to be done before the Son of Man comes. Judah must be gathered and Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and also the Temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the dead sea be healed. It will take some time to build the walls of the city and the temple, etc. and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make his appearance.
“There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above, and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness, and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do! They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come, as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.”
I have listened to his recital of the vision given him of the terrible calamities which would sweep over the earth as with a bosom of destruction. The vision was so horrifying that he prayed the Lord to take it away, and the Lord gave him the vision a little at a time so he could bear it. He said when these things took place, “The report will go forth morning by morning, it will be vexatious to hear the report, thereof.”
Sometime during the month of June 1843 Nauvoo was thrown into the greatest excitement by the news that Joseph had been kidnapped by Reynolds, sheriff of Jackson County Missouri, and Wilson Sheriff of Hancock County, Illinois, with the intention of taking him into Missouri and placing him in the power of his old enemies. Information had been given them of the proposed visit of Joseph with his family to his wife’s sister Mrs. Wasson, who lived about twelve miles from Dixon in Lee County Iowa.
Reynolds and Wilson disguised themselves, and upon their arrival at Dixon represented themselves as Mormon elders, and wanted to see the prophet Joseph Smith. They proceeded to the house of Mrs. Wasson, and found Joseph standing outside the house, they accosted him in the roughest manner and threatened to shoot him if he offered any resistance, although he had offered none. He asked them what they wanted of him, and by what authority they acted in that rough manner? They replied, they were going to take him to Missouri, and jamming their pistols at his side, swore that was their authority.
He requested them to let him go into the house and bid his family good bye; but they refused, not even giving him the chance to get his hat. With terrible oaths they threatened to shoot him if he stirred. Joseph answering to their abuse said baring his breast, “I am not afraid to die, shoot away, I have endured so much oppression, I am weary of life, kill me if you please; I am a strong man however, and with my own natural weapons could soon level both of you; but if you have any legal process to serve I am at all times subject to law, and shall offer no resistance.
Again with an oath they threatened to shoot him if he said another word. Joseph said, “Gentleman if you have any legal process, I wish to obtain a writ of habeas corpus.” With an oath they answered “You shan’t have one.” Again they threatened to shoot. Joseph told them, “Shoot away I am not afraid of your pistols.” Seeing a friend passing he told him, “these men are kidnapping me and I want a writ of habeas corpus to deliver me out of their hands.”
They then forced him into a wagon and placing themselves one on each side of him each one with a loaded pistol pressed close against his side, and repeatedly striking him with them–so that he was lame and sore two weeks afterward–they drove to Dixon to a tavern kept by Mr. McKennie and ordered horses to be ready in fifteen minutes to drag him to Missouri, they thrust him into a room treating him in the most brutal manner, guarding him, and would not allow him to see anybody.
Joseph told Reynolds, “I wish to get counsel.” Reynolds said with an oath, `You shan’t have counsel, and one more word G-d D–n you I’ll shoot you. Joseph replied, “What is the use of this so often, I have often told you to shoot, now I tell you again to shoot away.” Seeing a person passing he said, “I am falsely imprisoned here, and I want a lawyer.” A lawyer came and had the door banged in his face, another came and received the same treatment; by this time many of the citizens of Dixon being apprised of the situation stepped forward and gave the sheriff to understand, that if that was their mode of doing business in Missouri, they had another way of doing it here, that they were laws abiding citizens, and republicans, that Mr. Smith should have justice done him, and have the opportunity of a fair trial, and if they persisted in their course, they had a summary way of dealing with such peoples:–and gave them to understand that Mr. Smith should not go without a fair and impartial trial.
Reynolds finding further resistance vain, allowed some attornies to visit Joseph, who gave them to understand, that these men had taken him without process, they had insulted and abused him, and he wanted a writ of habeas corpus. Up till this time they had altogether refused to allow counsel to have any private conversation with Joseph.
At length Joseph obtained a writ of habeas corpus from the Master in Chancery of Lee County, returnable before Judge Caton at Ottawa, upon which he was conveyed by Reynolds and Wilson as far as Pawpaw Grove, a distance of thirty two miles to learn that Judge Caton was gone on a visit to New York. They all returned to Dixon, where another writ was issued this time returnable before the nearest tribunal, which was Nauvoo. On leaving Dixon a small company of friends travelled with Joseph and his captors, his friends fearing treachery, for Reynolds and Wilson did not disguise the fact that they intended to take him to Missouri.
As soon as the word reached Nauvoo of the kidnapping of Joseph companies of men were immediately organized and started out to find Joseph, some of these brethren soon after crossing Fox River on their way to Quincy, met Joseph and his captors also on the way to Quincy; which place they argued was the nearest place where the hearing could be had, their object being to get Joseph as near to the river as possible, hoping to get him across the river and into the state of Missouri. But the sudden appearance of the brethren thwarted their plans.
Upon seeing Joseph in the hands of his enemies who had captured him without showing any writ or other process except loaded pistols, they burst into tears, when they met Joseph exclaimed turning to his captures, “Gentlemen I think I will not go to Missouri this time! These are my boys!”
A halt, was made for consultation and the lawyers who had come with Joseph from Dixon decided that the hearing upon the writ of habeas corpus, could be lawfully held in Nauvoo; and they would rather go to Nauvoo than to Quincy. This took Joseph out of the power of his enemies once more to our great joy. News reached Nauvoo, that Joseph was coming, and a multitude with the band went out to meet him. As he entered the city the band played, Hail to the Chief who in Triumph Advances, etc.
Language fails me to describe my feelings upon this occasion as Joseph with his wife by his side each on horseback rode in triumph among his friends, into his beloved city. Joseph looked upon the multitude of his friends whose every countenance beamed with joy inexpressible and said, “I am out of the power of the Missourians again, thank God! And I thank you all for your kindness and love, I bless you all in the name of Jesus Christ, I will address you in the grove near the temple at four o’clock this afternoon.”
A feast had been prepared for him, his lawyers and the company who were with him many friends sat down to dinner with him, his captors also, Reynolds and Wilson, the base kidnappers were treated with all the kindness and courtesy of distinguished guests by Joseph and his wife, literally filling the words of the Savior 5th Matthew:44, “Love your enemies, bless them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” At the meeting held in the grove at 4 o’ clock he rehearsed all the events as they had transpired, the treatment he had received, and how the Lord had raised up friends to defend and assist him, and had again delivered” him out of the hands of his enemies.
At one time when speaking of the suffering he had endured from his enemies he said that “death would be sweeter than honey in the honey comb.” And yet when not harassed by his enemies, he was of the most cheerful disposition and as joyous and happy as a boy, who knew no care.
A special conference was called in October, the principle business to be transacted being the case of Sidney Rigdon, as stated by Joseph at the opening of the conference; and the further progress of the temple.
“Elder Sidney Rigdon addressed the conference on the subject of his situation and circumstances among the Saints; after which, “President Joseph Smith arose and said he was dissatisfied with Elder Sidney Rigdon as a counsellor, not having received any material benefit from his labors since their escape from Missouri.
Several complaints was brought forward, some of which were the following. In reference to his mismanagement in the post office; a supposed correspondence and connection with John C. Bennett, with ex-governor Carlin and with the Missourians of a treacherous character, also his beguiling with dishonest persons in endeavoring to defraud the innocent. Also an indirect testimony from Missouri, through Orin P. Rockwell’s mother, that Sidney Rigdon and others had sent letters giving information to the Missourians of Joseph’s visit to Dixon, advising them to proceed to that place and arrest him there. Joseph stated “that in consequence of these and other circumstances, and his unprofitableness to him as a counsellor he did not wish to retain him in that station unless those difficulties could be removed, but desired his salvation, and expressed his willingness that he (Sidney) should retain a place among the Saints.
Sidney arose and plead his cause, he denied having ever written to Missouri concerning the visit of Joseph to Dixon and other charges. He related the circumstances of his reception in Quincy, after his escape from Missouri, and the cause of his delay in not going to the city of Washington on an express to which he had been appointed at the conference held at Quincy in May 1839. He appealed to Joseph concerning their former friendship and sufferings, turning towards Joseph he said, “President Joseph Smith, from you, I received all the power, and authority, and priesthood I possess, and to you I resign it, though with sorrowful and indescribable feelings.
Hyrum and others used their influence to have Sidney retain his position. Hyrum was a merciful man, he had labored with Sidney for months to reform and fill his place by the side of Joseph as he should do, according to his station as counsellor, and he plead before the conference for Sidney. He spoke on the attribute of mercy in God by which he influences controls and conquers, and the propriety and importance of the Saints exercising the same attribute towards their fellows; and especially towards their aged companion and fellow servant in the cause of truth.
Joseph said, he was willing Elder Sidney Rigdon should retain his station, provided, “he would magnify his office, and conduct himself in all honesty, righteousness and integrity,” but said he, “I have no confidence in him judging from the past, and if you do not cast him off now; the time will come when you will wish you had have done it.” Although Joseph talked thus plainly about the future, a motion was made by Elder William Marks, and seconded by Hyrum to retain Sidney as a counsellor to the First Presidency, and the conference sanctioned it by their vote.
It was only a few months after this time, when Sidney aspired to the be the leader of the church and the people remembered these words of the Prophet Joseph, “If you do not cast him off now, the time will come when you will wish you had done it.”
I received my commission as an officer in the Nauvoo Legion, from Governor Ford signed by him on the 28th October, 1843, and took the oath to office once 7th November following. Hosea Stout, Colonel 5th Regiment, 2nd Cohort.
On the night of the 6th of May 1842 an attempt was made upon the life of ex-governor Boggs, at Independence, Jackson County, Missouri by parties unknown. It was well known that Boggs had enemies in the state where he lived, but it suited his mobocratic disposition to charge the crime upon the Mormons, and start anew the persecution against the Saints, and see them driven from Illinois, as he had driven them from Missouri by his hellish exterminating order.
To accomplish this he went before a justice of the peace for Jackson County, and swore out a complaint charging the crime upon Joseph Smith and O. P. Rockwell, who were known, not to have been in the state of Missouri at that time, and was so proven before the courts of Illinois. During this time Joseph was much harassed with false charges, made with a determination of getting him into the hands of his Missouri enemies, and as has been previously stated, was continued in 1843 by kidnapping him at or near Dixon.
O. P. Rockwell was in the east several months and as he was returning home to Nauvoo and passing through St. Louis, Missouri, he was kidnapped and thrust into jail. He was then put in irons and taken to Independence and treated with the utmost cruelty. Although no connection could be traced between him and the attempt on the life of Governor Boggs, not having been seen in the state of Missouri during the year the attempt was made, he was held under heavy bonds many months.
One day Joseph rode upon the [Nauvoo] temple grounds as we stood together talking after our day’s work and called out, “Boys, has Bonaparte any friends in the French Army?” Of course we were all attention to know his meaning. He then told us he had learned from the mother of O. P. Rockwell, that for the sum of hundred dollars she could obtain Porter’s release for prison. Joseph said he had not sufficient money himself so he wanted the brethren to assist him. All present responded heartily. Some could give five dollars, others various amounts. Those who had money with them gave it to him some went to their homes for the money.
While waiting for the brethren to return, Joseph dismounted from his horse and engaged in a friendly wrestle with some of the “boys,” as he called them. He often tried to get me to wrestle with him but I never could. I was a strong man as well as he was. Often when we met and shook hands he would pull me to him for a wrestle and say, slapping my shoulder with his hand, “If you are not a strong man, there is no use of putting a man upright.”
Joseph obtained the necessary funds and soon afterward O. P. Rockwell was allowed his freedom after many weary months of imprisonment. He made his way on foot across the state of Missouri, which swarmed with his enemies, who had sworn to take his life if only they could get their eyes on him. The Lord preserved him in his journey and he reached Nauvoo and the house of the Prophet on 25 December, 1843. Joseph and all the Saints rejoiced in his safe return to liberty and friends.
In speaking to me of the trials and hardships endured while in prison in Independence, being put in a dungeon about two months heavily ironed, and being continually kept in anxiety for the safety of Joseph, “I knew if they got him into their hands they would murder him; he said that during this time Sheriff Reynolds told him he was going to arrest Joseph, and seemed quite confident that he would succeed, he said he had `received letters form Nauvoo which satisfied him that I could tote Joseph wherever I please,’ and if I would get him into their hands I should never want, and they would protect me; said he, “You deliver Joe Smith into our hands and name your pile.” I told Reynolds I would see them all damned first and then I won’t.”
“I knew when he went to Dixon, but I had no means to give Joseph the information I had, my anxiety was so great–I knew they intended to kill him–that my flesh twitched on my bones, and I could not help it, twitch it would. When Sheriff Reynolds returned, he came into the jail and told me he had made a failure, and Joseph was out of their hands again.”
Early in the spring Joseph suggested the propriety of putting all the forces upon the temple, and letting the Nauvoo House stand as it was until the temple was completed, for said he, “we need the temple more than anything else”. A meeting was called for the 7th March 1844 to attend to business, and a vast multitude assembled as early as nine o’clock. Patriarch Hyrum Smith took the stand and stated the object of the meeting.
He said, “It is necessary to have a starting point which is to build the temple with the assistance of the sisters we expect to get the nails and glass, and with the assistance of the brethren we expect to do the rest. We do not intend to finish the Nauvoo House this season, but to take all the hands and finish the temple this summer or the walls of it–and get the roof on by December, and do off the inside next winter, and about a year from this time we will dedicate it. Much depends upon it, for our endowments and sealing powers, and many blessings depend upon it.”
Joseph spoke upon the building of the temple and said, “In relation to those who give in property for the temple we want them to bring it to the proper source, and be careful into whose hands it comes, that it may be entered into the church books, so that those whose names are found in the church books shall have the first claim to receive their endowments in the temple. One of the grand objects I had in calling this meeting was to make a few remarks relating to the laws and ordinances of the city. Will the citizens sustain me when my hands are raised to heaven in behalf of this people?” Said he, I will expose the iniquity of the lawyers and wicked men, I fear not their wrath, nor the boiling over of hell, their thunders nor the lightening of their forked tongue. I despise the man who will betray you with a kiss. I want to speak about the lawyers of this city, I have good feelings toward them, nevertheless I will reprove the lawyer and doctors, Jesus did, and every prophet has, and if I am a prophet I shall do it, at any rate I shall do it, for I profess to be a prophet. How are we to keep peace in the city, defend ourselves against mobs, and keep innocent blood from being shed? By striking a blow at everything that rises up in disorder.”
During this meeting General Smith’s views of the powers and policy of the general government of the United States, was read by W. W. Phelps, after which, it was voted unanimously, with one exception, to uphold General Smith, for the Presidency of the United States.
Remarks was made by President Brigham Young, John Taylor and others, Joseph remarked, “As to politics, I care but little about the presidential chair. I would not give half as much for the office of president, as I would for the one I now hold as Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion.”
In the evening there was a general time of rejoicing, bonfires was lighted, the band played and when Joseph came upon the scene he was taken upon the shoulders of some of the `boys’ and carried about with shouts for General Smith.
What! Methink, I hear someone who has wrought in his mind a picture, such as he thinks a prophet should resemble; this picture would represent, a prophet, as a man of sober, solemn mein, without a smile of gladsome pleasure, he would be long faced, with flowing hair and beard, etc. A person who would have such an idea would approach
the prophet with `awe’ in their countenance, and no doubt if they gave expression to their feeling would make an exclamation such as, What a prophet [allows] himself [to be] carried about on the should(er)s of his friends in such a manner! What, a Prophet play all, and wrestle! Yes! there is no law, human or divine that prohibits a man from indulging in such healthy innocent exercises; there is no text in the scripture that forbids such exercise, then why condemn Joseph. An example of a wrestle between a man called Jacob and an angel is recorded in the book of Genesis 32nd chapter in this way, viz, 22 & 25 verse: “And Jacob was left alone: and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day, and when he saw he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacobs thighs was out of joint as he wrestled with him.” And Jacob would not let him go from him until he gave him a blessing. “Jacob called the place Peniel” for said “Jacob, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved,” verse 30.
I have been with him at times when approached by a long faced religious stranger, who seemed to think it almost sin to smile, and that the prophet should be as sedate and as cheerless as himself; challenge someone for a wrestle to the utter astonishment of the religious stranger, who would be almost shocked at the mention of a wrestle, but would extol Jacob who seemed to be an accomplished wrestler and also a great favorite with God.
Such was Joseph the great Prophet of the last days as he often joined us on the temple grounds, when we were sure of a rare treat if we could get him to talk to us. Someone present being in a hurry to hear him would say, “Brother Joseph talk to us.” He would say, “What do you want mo to talk about, start something.” Soon a conversation would bring out som(e) question for Joseph to answer, and then I could lean back and listen. Ah what pleasure this gave me; he would unravel the scriptures and explain doctrine as no other man could. What had been mystery he made so plain it was no longer mystery. Baptism for the dead, was a topic so new to this generation, was much dwelt upon the absolute nescessity of the completion of the temple, that the ordinances might be administered to the living, and through the living for the dead. I ask, who understood anything about these things until Joseph being inspired from on high touched the key and unlocked the door of these mysteries of the kingdom? In the epistles of St. Paul to the Corinthians we read there were some who disputed about the resurrection of the dead, and the argument of the apostle shows that at that time they were performing ordinances for the dead: he inquires, “Why are ye baptized for the dead? if the dead rise not at all.” Who understood the meaning pertaining to this question? It was one of the hard words, and like children who are just commencing to learn to read, the hard words are passed over.
Joseph’s instruction like those of a good school teacher were, “Get into your lyceum and investigate doctrine? And this we did, and endeavored to learn the hard words, knowing full well that he would help us without lessons, as he said, “If you run against a snag come to me I’ll help you off.” At our meetings one of the First Presidency, or one of the Twelve Apostles, met with us whenever practicable, and if there was a diversity of opinion upon my doctrine we were lecturing upon, they would decide for the right. Upon one occasion, the subject chosen was the principle of faith; much evidence was [adduced] from the Bible to show that faith was not simply to believe, but it was something more. It was a principle of power. Jesus said to his disciples, “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” 17th Luke 6 verse, faith as a grain of mustard seed, which is a small seed, but to us it represents a vast power; by faith the worlds were made. It was shown that faith is the power, the authority of the Holy Priesthood of the Son of God.
In a Revelation given through the prophet Joseph Smith on the 22nd & 23rd, September 1832 reads: This greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God; therefore in the ordinances thereof the power of godliness is manifest; and without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto man in the flesh.
Apostle John E. Page was present at this meeting, but did not wish to decide, as the subject was presented in a new light, but advised us to lay the subject before Joseph. I was chosen one of a committee to wait upon Joseph and present the subject to him. After conversing with him awhile he said, “I must hear you talk, and know your position,” and said he would meet with us if possible.
He was always pleased to find the elders searching deep for truth and helped them, and we gained much knowledge of the things of God that was very precious, yea hidden treasures of knowledge. Joseph acted very wisely, he would not judge a matter before he heard it.
There was a very large attendance at the conference on the 6th [of] April. All the elders who were away had been called home previously.
Some thought on that account, something would be brought before the conference to be investigated which existed of a very serious nature; which we feared was no less than a plot to destroy the Prophet. But at the opening meeting as was usual with the President Joseph Smith, he stated to the conference, the nature of the business to be attended to and then said, “It had been expected that the little difficulties which existed would be investigated before the conference, but they were of too trivial a nature to occupy the attention of so large a body. I intend to give you some instructions on the principles of eternal truth. Those who feel desirous of sowing the seeds of discord on this occassion will be disappointed.”
“It is our purpose to build up and establish the principles of righteousness and not to break down and destroy. The great Jehovah ever been with me, and the wisdom of God will direct me in the seventh hour; I feel in closer communion, and better standing with God, than ever I felt before in my life, and I am glad of the opportunity to appear in your midst, I thank God for this glorious day.”
I was ordained a High Priest, and received a certificate to this effect, “Given by direction of a general conference of the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assembled in Nauvoo, Illinois on the sixth day of April 1844, and signed, by Joseph Smith, President. Willard Richards, Clerk. And will be bound recorded in License Record Book A. page 127.”
In the afternoon of the 7th April, Joseph the Prophet delivered that remarkable address known as the Funeral Sermon of Elder King Follett, who while at work in a well was killed by a tub of stone falling upon him. He was buried with Masonic honors, on the 10th of March, 1844.
He was a man faithful to his trust, he suffered persecution and abuse and imprisonment for the sake of the gospel and the testimony of Jesus and never shrank from any duty however unpleasant. When endeavoring to escape from prison in Columbia, Boone County, Missouri: on the 4th July, 1839, he was recaptured and again thrust into prison, and into the lowest dungeon, and chained to the floor; he was kept in this situation a few days when he was unchained and taken to an upper apartment; he was however kept in prison several months and finally liberated; he then made his way to Nauvoo.
It was said, there was about twenty thousand persons who listened to this discourse which was quite lengthy, although the subject was by no means exhausted, and Joseph said he could continue the subject upon another occasion.
[In pencil was]
Funeral Sermon of King Follett delivered by President Joseph Smith, on the 7th April, 1844. Reported by Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, Thomas Bullock and William Clayton.
“President Joseph Smith, arose and called the attention of the congregation upon the subjects which were contemplated in the forepart of the conference.
`As the wind blows very hard it will be hardly possible for me to make you all hear unless there is profound attention, it is of the greatest importance, and the most solemn of any that can occupy our attention, and that is, the subject of the dead: On the decease of our Brother Follettt who was crushed to death in a well, by the falling of a tub of rock; I have been requested to speak by his friends and relations: and inasmuch as there are a great many in this congregation, who live in this city, as well as elsewhere, and who have lost friends; I feel to speak on the subject in general and offer you my ideas so far as I have ability, and so far as I shall be inspired by the Holy Spirit to dwell on this subject . . . [See HC 6: 302-18]
The following day Monday the 8th, Joseph made the following remarks . . . . [See HC 318-320.]
This most instructive and interesting conference lasted five days, the weather was fine, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “They have been the greatest, best, and most glorious five consecutive days ever enjoyed by this generation.”
[In pencil was]
As Joseph said in the conference, “I must teach the elders, and they must teach you.” This he had been doing all the previous winter. He had spent most of his time in teaching the Twelve, and other elders, and in giving endowments; he was so constant in his labors that they wondered why he should be so untiring in his labors. Upon one occasion Elder Orson Pratt, remarked to me “I don’t know what is the matter, Joseph gives us no rest, neither day or night, when we ask him he says, `the spirit urges me’.”
On one occasion about this time when addressing the congregation Joseph said he had “rolled the burden of bearing off the kingdom onto the shoulders of the Twelve. I have so diffused the priesthood, I defy all hell to overthrow it, now it matters not what become of me. I am going to rest awhile.”
He told us to pray “that you may live to go into this temple and be sealed in your foreheads,”–putting his hand upon his forehead–for said he, “It is your right to live until you are threescore years and ten.” At that time I was a young man, seventy years was thought to be a great age; I could hardly hope to live so long, or to my present age, which in a few days will be seventy nine.
“Oh how blind we were. I often think we were in the same condition as were the disciples of Jesus. He told them plainly that “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again,” but they did not comprehend his sayings. Neither did we understand Joseph; had we anticipated his departure we might, like the disciples of Jesus, been somewhat prepared and understood his sayings. “I am going to rest awhile,” “I have rolled the burden of bearing off the kingdom onto the shoulders of the Twelve,” etc. I had no idea his mission upon earth was so near the end, but that the Twelve would travel and preach the gospel to all nations, take much of the labor and responsibility off him, so that he could stay with us at home and instruct the people.
He had been feeding us deliciously with spiritual food, his discourses were becoming better every time he addressed the Saints, and we anticipated a continuance of these things. We had known for a good while that certain men were plotting with the enemies of Joseph at Carthage and with the Missourians, for his death, at the same time professing to be his friends. One of these was no other than William Law who had been his counselor. Joseph found him to be a wicked, corrupt and treacherous man which was plainly shown by the following incident, which is only one of many.
Late one night a steamboat landed some of their ilk, who waited while William Law went to Joseph’s house and waking him,–Joseph–asked him to come out, as he had something important to tell him. Joseph answered him, saying, “Brother Law, you know you have no business with me at this time of night.” Law went off disappointed, his intention being to get Joseph down to the landing and onto the steamboat, which would land him in Missouri.
About this time William and Wilson Law, and R. D. Foster, were cut off from the church for un-Christian conduct. They then threw off the mask and became openly the avowed enemies of Joseph. These men with Francis M. Higbee operating with outside rascals persecuted him openly. Higbee went to Carthage swore out a complaint, a writ was served and Joseph was arrested by one J. D. Parker who was instructed to take him to Carthage, to appear before the court on the third Monday in May.
However Joseph obtained a writ of habeas corpus and appeared before the Municipal court at Nauvoo, where the character of Higbee was shown to be of the worst type, wicked and corrupt. When this plot failed to land him in Carthage, other charges were made, and thus these men with others joined hands with the corrupt and mobocratic disposed until they did destroy his life. Many apostatised from the church, and some joined with William Law who professed to be a prophet, and made a feint to organize a church after the pattern of The Church of Jesus Christ, at the same joining together for the purpose of betraying their friend, and as so many Judases being unable to hide their corruption any longer, betrayed their friend as Judas Iscariot did his Savior.
Joseph knew his enemies and appreciated his friends. Upon one of my calls at his house on business, I found him walking the floor, chafing, I thought vexed. He was talking to someone in the next room and he was very earnest. He stopped in his walk and turning to me said, “Brother Mace, this gospel gathers up some of the meanest of all God’s creation.” After a short pause he said, “Yes, and some of the finest fellows that ever lived.”
R. D. Foster came one day to see Joseph on a pretended visit of reconciliation, seeking forgiveness and restoration to fellowship; he wanted a private interview. Joseph’s keen eye detected something bright gleaming from Foster’s vest, a very small part had escaped concealment. Joseph placed his hand upon it and said, “What have you got concealed here?” Foster found himself detected and answer, “My pistol.” He was foiled in his purpose and his pretended humility with a pistol in his pocket betrayed his purpose of a private interview.
While such rascals constantly sought his life, his friends were constant and true and he knew it. Yes, many like myself, worked on the [Nauvoo] temple all day and stood guard through the night, traveling from place to place to warn him of danger and protecting him from his enemies. As general, speaking to the Nauvoo Legion, he said to us, “You have faithfully performed your duty in preserving the lives of this people as well as mine. You shall be called the first elders of this Church and your mission will be to the nations of the earth to preach the gospel and you will gather many people to the fastnesses of the Rocky Mountains and many of those who will come in under your ministry, because of their learning will seek for position, and they will gain eminence over you; and you will walk in low place unnoticed. Yet you will know all that transpires in your midst. Those who are your friends are my friends, and I promise you when I come again I will lead you forth, so that where I am you shall be with me.”
These were troublous times, and on the 18th June the mayor issued the following order, “To the City Marshal of Nauvoo:
“From the newspapers around us, and the current reports as brought in from the surrounding country, I have good reason to fear that a mob is organizing to come upon this city, and plunder and destroy said city, as well as murder the citizens; and by virtue of the authority vested in me as mayor, and to preserve the city and lives of the citizens, I do hereby declare the said city, within the limits of its corporation, under martial law. The officers, therefore, of the Nauvoo Legion, the police, as well as all others, will strictly see that no person or property, pass in or out of the city without due orders.” [See HC 6:497.]
“Joseph Smith, Mayor.”
About 2 o’clock p.m. of the same day the Legion was drawn up close by Joseph’s house, in the street, and Joseph standing upon the frame of a building nearly opposite his house addressed the Legion. I shall never forget this occasion, nor the power manifested by the Prophet in this his last address. How noble, how grand he appeared, dressed in his full uniform, as Lieutenant General; he addressed us, the Nauvoo Legion. He called upon W. W. Phelps to read from an extra issue of the Warsaw Signal, published by Tom Sharp; among which was the following resolutions, of the mob.
“Resolved, That we hold ourselves at all times in readiness to cooperate with our fellow citizens in this state, Missouri, and Iowa, to exterminate, utterly exterminate, the wicked and abominable Mormon leaders, the authors of our troubles.”
“Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed forthwith to notify all persons in our township suspected of being tools of the Prophet, to leave immediately on pain of instant vengeance. And we recommend the inhabitants of the adjoining townships to do the same, hereby pledging ourselves to render all the assistance they may require.”
“Resolved, That the time in our opinion has arrived, when the adherents of Smith, as a body, should be driven from the surrounding settlements, into `Nauvoo.’ That the Prophet and his miscreant adherents, should then be demanded at their hands, and if not surrendered, a war of extermination should be waged, to their entire destruction, if necessary for our protection, of his adherents.”
“And we do hereby recommend this resolution to the consideration of the several townships, to the Mass Convention, to be held at Carthage; hereby pledging ourselves to aid to the utmost, complete consumation of the object in view, that we may thereby, be utterly relieved of the alarm, anxiety, and trouble, to which we are now subjected.” The mass meeting referred to was held on the 13th and 14th.
On the 17th the mob issued the following:
“Latest Orders.” The citizens of this county are ordered to assemble at their various places of rendezvous, on Wednesday, and there to receive general orders to cooperate as a posse to aid in arresting Smith.”
Citizens of the adjoining state, territory and counties, who feel interested in bringing to justice the most depraved wretch on earth, will observe that they can join our standard, and act with the posse comitatus without violating any law. We are prepared in this county to do our duty.”
“If the governor orders out the militia there will be no difficulty,–if not, we are determined to try the posse comitatus; being assured, that the citizen of surrounding counties, and of Missouri, and Iowa, will join us. As soon as a day for a general cooperation is set, we will notify by a hand-bill, all the citizens of the adjacent country.”
This is some of the news which was read by W. W. Phelps, and which had induced Joseph as Mayor of Nauvoo, to proclaim martial law. While addressing us upon this occasion Joseph spoke of the many wrongs this people had endured, and of our situation at this time surrounded by mobs who were thirsting for his blood, of enemies who were in our midst and who had been endeavoring to crawl into his bosom, because of his good feeling toward all men, and they are the vipers who were seeking his life.
I can see him now, as he stood with his sword drawn and lifted toward heaven, as he declared the things which should take place upon the earth, that the sword should not be sheathed until the earth was cleansed from wickedness.
A synopsis has been published of this, Joseph’s last public address, as follows.” [See HC 6:498-500.]
. . . The foregoing shows our situation and condition, and the motive which prompted the Prophet to once more leave Nauvoo. He thought to draw the attention of the mob leaders away from Nauvoo, by following after him. He was willing to sacrifice his own life, if by that means he could spare the lives of his brethren, and the fate that awaited the beloved city. He wanted his brother Hyrum to take his family to Cincinati, where he would be safe; but Hyrum would not leave him. They and a few friends crossed over the Mississippi River the night of the 22nd, and made arrangements to leave the country of mobs, and go to the Rocky Mountains, and lead the people he loved so well to a place where they could worship God, and build up a city far removed from mob violence.
But this was not to be. On the following morning as with brother Hyrum Mace, I was walking up the street towards Joseph’s house, talking over the events of the last few days, two men came to us in a great hurry, from an opposite direction. They were very much excited over the present situation and thought it was absolutely necessary that Joseph should return. We took an opposite view of the case and did not want to see him return into the very jaws of death.
But said they, “If Joseph don’t come back the governor will put the city under `martial’ law, and then nothing can be brought into the city, neither can anything be taken out, and then what will all our property be worth?” They further argued that the governor was our friend, and he would protect Joseph from all harm if he came back.
I returned answer with considerable warmth of feeling, that I did not believe it. On the contrary, I believed the governor to be in perfect harmony with the mob, and if Joseph recrossed the river, he would be murdered. I did not want him to return; what is a little property compared to his life. Joseph could in a very short time build a city and property worth more than all Hancock County; and should we, for the sake of a little property, be so selfish as to push him into the very jaws of deaths!
These men, Reynolds Cahoon and Hiram Kimball then left us and turned and walked towards Joseph’s house, when they reached it, and before entering, they leaned on the fence, talked together for some time, they then went into the house. We,–Hyrum Mace and myself–both felt the impression that they were going to persuade Sister Emma–Joseph’s wife,–to write to him and prevail on him to return. This feeling came upon us so forcibly, we were very uneasy as to the result.
From O. P. Rockwell, who was one of Joseph’s company, I learned our impressions were correct. He said, Cahoon brought a letter to Joseph from his wife, he opened and read the letter then handed it to his brother Hyrum and said, “I know my own business.” Cahoon replied to Joseph, “You always said, if the Church would stick to you, you would stick to church, now trouble comes you are the first to run.” Joseph made him no reply. He would not talk to him.
Hyrum read the letter and thought “we had better go back, and if we die, we will die like men.” Joseph replied, “Hyrum you are my oldest brother, and if you say go back, we will go back,” he said further, “If they had let me alone, there would have been no bloodshed, but now I expect to be butchered.”
They accordingly recrossed the river the same night June 23rd and sent a letter to Governor Ford saying he would start for Carthage next morning. The next morning, 24th June, Joseph had an interview with the officers of the Legion and instructed them to dismiss their men,but have them in a state of readiness, to be called upon if an emergency should occur.
Sad were our hearts when Joseph and Hyrum, with the members of the city council, the marshal and a number of others, started on horseback for Carthage. When about four miles from Carthage, they were met by Captain Dunn, with a company of sixty cavalry, who held an order from the governor for all the state arms in possession of the Nauvoo Legion. Joseph countersigned the order, and returned to Nauvoo with the company. He made this remark, said he, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am as calm as a summer’s morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and all men”. He also said, “If they take my life I shall die innocent, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall yet be said, he was murdered in cold blood.”
When this company reached Nauvoo, the Legion was called together, and Joseph counselled us to give up our arms which had been supplied us by the state saying, “We will give to them that ask of us, and trust in God for our future welfare.” While they were taking our arms, Joseph said to the officers near him, “These men are too good, too quiet and law abiding for this rough generation,” and looking around him at his friends the Nauvoo Legion, and seeing our sad faces he said, “Boys,” he always called us boys, “His Boys,” “Don’t be sad, don’t be cast down, I will come back again.” After a little hesitation he added, “as soon as I can.” That expression, “As soon as I can”, sank deep into my heart and confirmed my fears. I never expected to see him again alive. The sad expression upon his face as he looked upon us, “His Boys” for the last time I shall never forget. I felt in my inmost soul that he was going to be butchered, and we should see him no more alive. I feel yet even at this time, so many years after the tragedy, that his life was thrown away, by a few,–I was going to say old grannies who cared more for property than anything else.
Three days later Governor Ford came to Nauvoo, leaving Joseph in the midst of his bitterest foes, who had declared only a day or two before, “there was nothing against them, the law could not reach them, but powder and ball would.” He had promised Joseph that when he went to Nauvoo he–Joseph–should go with him. He had also pledged the faith of the state that he–Joseph–and his friends should be protected from violence. Yet here he was, standing on the same frame of a house from which Joseph delivered his last address to the Legion, insultingly harranging the people, said he “I know there is a great prejudice against you on account of your peculiar religion, but you ought to be praying Saints, not military Saints. Depend upon it, a little more misbehavior on the part of the citizens, and the torch which is now already lighted, will be applied; the city may be reduced to ashes, and extermination would inevitably follow.” Again he said, “a great crime has been done by destroying the expositor press and placing the city under martial law, and a severe atonement must be made, so prepare your minds for the emergency; If anything of a serious character should befall the lives or property of the persons who are prosecuting your leaders, you will be held responsible. It gives me pain to think there is danger of so many innocent women and children being exterminated.”
While we sat listening to the insulting harangue of the governor our Prophet and Patriarch Joseph and Hyrum were being murdered and the governor knew it. Cannon had been placed between Carthage and Nauvoo, and when the massacre took place these cannons were fired to apprise the governor that the hellish deed was done, all was over. He abruptly ended his speech, and left Nauvoo in haste never halting until he reached Carthage.
Why such haste? Why should he fear? “The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” Note The Nauvoo Expositor was a filthy, libelous sheet, which the City Council after a thorough investigation declared a nuisance, and with a united vote passed a “Bill” for its removal, which was done by the city marshal in an orderly manner without noise or turmoil.
F. M. Higbee immediately went to Carthage and swore out a complaint against Joseph and others, knowing well if Joseph could be taken to Carthage under any pretext he would be there murdered.
[In pencil was]
“Awful assasination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith! The pledged faith of the state of Illinois, stained with blood by a mob, 27th June 1844.”
“About six o’clock in the afternoon the guard was surprised by an armed mob of from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty, painted black, and yellow red, which surrounded the jail, forced in–poured a shower of bullets into the room where the unfortunate men were held in `durance vile,’ to answer to the laws of Illinois; under the solemn pledge of the faith of the state, by Governor Ford, that they should be protected! but the mob ruled!”
“They fell as martyrs amid this tornado of lead, each receiving four bullets! John Taylor was wounded by four bullets in his limbs, but not seriously. Thus finishes the hope of law: thus vanishes the plighted faith of the state; thus the blood of innocence stains the constituted authorities of the United States, and thus have two among the most noble martyrs since the slaughter of Abel, sealed the truth of their divine mission by being shot by a mob for their religion.”
Times & Seasons.
“Messengers were dispatched to Nauvoo with the dreadful news, but they were hindered so that they did not arrive until morning.”
“12 o’clock at night, 27th June. Carthage, Hamilton’s Tavern.”
“To Mrs. Emma Smith, and Major General Dunham etc.:
“The governor has just arrived; says all things shall be inquired into, and all right measures taken.”
“I say to all the citizen of Nauvoo, my brethren, be still, and know that God reigns. Don’t rush out of the city, don’t rush to Carthage; stay at home and be prepared for an attack [of] Missouri mobbers. The governor will render every assistance possible–has sent out orders for troops–Joseph and Hyrum are dead, but not by the Carthage people–the guards were true as I believe. We will prepare to move the bodies as soon as possible. The people of the county are greatly excited, and fear the Mormons will come out and take vengeance.–I have pledged my word, the Mormons will stay at home, as soon as they can be informed, and no violence will be done on their part, and say to the brethren in Nauvoo, in the name of the Lord,–Be still–be patient–only let such friends as choose come here to see the bodies–Mr. Taylor’s wounds are dressed, and not serious–I am sound.”
Willard Richards, John Taylor, Samuel H. Smith.”
Times & Seasons.
When early in the morning the sad news reached Nauvoo, it spread from mouth to mouth instantaneously, almost paralyzing everyone with the words, “Joseph and Hyrum is dead,” assasinated in jail!
Who can depict the scene? What pen describe the sorrow and mourning manifested by all? Strong men wept like children; women moaned as they gathered their little children around them and told them of the fearful crime that had taken place at Carthage, where the governor had promised protection to those two innocent men, they had been left by him to be murdered.
Who could describe the anguish of the families of those martyrs? Their aged mother had already passed through so many trying scenes. She had seen her son dragged before the courts and discharged honorably because they could find no guilt attached to him, nearly fifty times. Now he and her oldest son, two of earth’s noblest sons, are shot down by a mob in cold blood, in the prime of life; their wives and innocent babes were left widowed and fatherless to face a relentless foe without the encouragement and assistance of those they dearly loved.
Brave men, who would willingly have sacrificed their lives, to save the lives of their beloved Prophet and Patriarch, were now as helpless as babes. What could Governor Ford mean, when he gave orders for the state arms to be taken from us, leaving us at the mercy of an injuriated mob our two generals in their midst, and their friends powerless to protect them? He meant to assist the mob to accomplish their purpose, which when done, to blind the people sends us word to, “Defend yourselves until protection can be furnished necessary.”
“June 27th, 1844. Thomas Ford, Governor and Commander-in-Chief.”
“But he who `Knoweth the thoughts and intents of the heart’ will render a righteous judgment. O God Almighty, give us, thy Saints, strength and wisdom in our trying hour.”
In the midst of our grief some of them who committed the foul deed appeared among us, the marks of black still on their face; some of the brethren recognized one of them, it was John Eagle, the black only partially washed off his face-and made towards him, some of the most excitable one among would have dealt summarily with him had they not been restrained. Eagle finding he was known as one of the mob, made all possible haste to get out of the way.
The Legion was called out about 10 o’clock, and Judge Phelp and Colonel Buck master of Alton, the governor’s aide and others, delivered addresses to allay all excitement, and prepare to receive the bodies of our much loved and respected, and sincerely mourned generals, Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
The bodies were taken into the nauvoo Mansion–Joseph’s house–and the Legion and citizens were addressed by Willard Richards in tones never to be forgotten. He called upon the people to be quiet, and not take any steps that would bring further trouble upon us as a people. He plead as a hungry man might beg for bread, to be quiet, and trust to the law for redress, and when that failed, to call upon God to avenge us of our wrongs! This was a time when men’s souls were tried.
“The Nobel Martyrs”
From the Times and Seasons. [5:561; 598-99.] . . .
[In pencil was]
The foregoing special conference had a soothing effect upon the feelings of the Saints, and we felt although the `head shepherd’ was absent in the flesh, he was present in the spirit, and his associate shepherds were earnest in caring for the sheep, that they might not be scattered by the wolves who were willing to divide the flock.
Sidney Rigdon continued in a state of enmity toward the Twelve, and would not meet with them in council, although frequently visited by them and urged to do so. He drew around him the disaffected, also some who being ignorant of the law of succession believed it to be his right to preside over the Church, because he had been a counselor to Joseph, also forgetting that when Joseph threw him off, it was the people who voted for him to retain his place, not Joseph. On the contrary he said, “If you don’t do it now, the time will come when you will wish you had done it.” However those who were honest in their belief, left him as soon as they saw their error.
In consequence of his persistant opposition, and after laboring with him in all kindness without effect, it was necessary to bring his case before the High Council for trial, and the time appointed was to be on the eighth day of September.
As the time for trial drew near, Rigdon counselled his followers to arm themselves, and go upon the meeting ground, and prevent the meeting being held which was to try his case; but his principal counselor opposed him so strongly that the measure was abandoned.
According to appointment, the meeting was held on Sunday the 8th, September 1844 on the meeting ground, and the High Council organized themselves with Bishop Newel K. Whitney at their head. Upon this occasion many were assembled who were present when the Prophet Joseph first organized the High Council in Kirtland . . . . [See Times and Seasons 5:647-55.]
At the end of the trial President Brigham delivered Sidney Rigdon over to the buffetings of Satan, in the name of the Lord, saying, we’ll see who holds the power! And all the people said, Amen.
On the 6th day of October, the case of Sidney Rigdon was presented before the Church in conference assembled, and he was cut off from the church, the conference sanctioning by their vote the action of the High Council.
This brought very vividly to my mind, the seeming reluctance manifested by Sidney at the time Joseph called upon him to assist in ordaining Brigham Young President of the Quorum of the Twelve. He, (Sidney) as he walked towards him, muttered–“that he had laid his hands on so many men, and conferred power upon them, and they had used it against him,” as though he had a premonition of the future.
This was the first conference held after the martyrdom of our beloved Prophet and Patriarch Joseph and Hyrum, a great deal of important business was done.
On the 8th day of October, the last day of conference, Presiden Brigham Young selected over eighty men from the Quorum of High Priests, to go abroad in all the congressional districts of the United States to preside over the branches of the church. . . . [See Times and Seasons 5:695-96.]
The legislature of Illinois, assembled in Springfield and in its session of 1840-41 granted the Charter of the city of Nauvoo, and on the 1st February the first election was held, and those elected for City Council was organized on Wednesday the 3rd. The Charter was broad and very liberal, under its protection and the wise government of its officers, the city grew very fast. The citizens were industrious, prosperous, contented and happy, until the enemies of peace and good government plotted against the mayor and his associates, which terminated in the murder in cold blood two of the best men on the earth; General’s Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
The state arms having been taken away from the Nauvoo Legion by the order of Governor Ford, another act was carried into effect, that left us entirely defenseless. This was the unconditional repeal of the Nauvoo Charter, by the legislature which met in the winter of 1844-1845.
Representative of the people A. W. Babbitt made a noble defense to no effect, he said, . . . .
the speeches of Honorable A. W. Babbitt, of Nauvoo, and Mr. Backenstos were published in the New York Prophet April, 1845 from which they are copied here. . . .
[In pencil was]
The foregoing speeches of the honorable gentlemen of the Illinois Legislative House of Representatives, plainly shows that the legislative body were in touch with the mob or anti-Mormon element, and it was further demonstrated by the mob again gathering; they talked of having a `wolf hunt’, which meant to hunt and drive the Mormons from, not only the city of Nauvoo but from Illinois as had been done in Missouri.
We had been told by the Prophet Joseph, that the Lord had given sufficient time in which to build the [Nauvoo] temple, and if we did not do it we would be rejected with our dead. We were therefore very diligent in our labors on the temple. Men were as thick as blackbirds busily engaged upon the various portions, all intent upon its completion: although we were being in constant expectation of a mob. Some old cannons had been brought to Nauvoo from New Orleans which had lain in the salt water until they had become very rusty. I was called upon by President Young to fit these cannons for action.
He told me to take them into the basement of the [Nauvoo] temple, and rebore them, and get them ready for action. I accordingly called upon two or three of the brethren to help me, and we took them by night into the basement, white washed the windows to prevent observation, and went to work. After much hard labor having to work upon the cannon at night, and superintend the work on the temple in the daytime, thus working day and night with very little time to rest, we had them ready to defend the city.
We placed these four cannons each one on the hind axle of a wagon, the muzzle close against the tail board of the wagon box, which was without bottom. Seats sufficient for eight men was placed on the box. When required for action the men would lift off the wagon box and the cannon was ready for action. As soon as the mobs heard the boom of our cannon and learned we had something to defend ourselves with, we heard no more of the wolf hunt. They tried every means they could devise to bring trouble upon Nauvoo. Frequently a party would land from a steamboat and come into the city, commit their deviltry, and return to the boat and leave again; well-owing we had no law to protect us since the City Charter was taken away.
We found something had to be done to protect our families etc, so that the people could proceed with their labors with some feelings of security, as at this time without police regulations, our families were exposed to the rascals who on finding them uprotected by husbands and fathers would insult and abuse them. In consequence of such things the old police formed themselves into `whittling’ companies, and guarded the city from the rascals in this wise. When a stranger came into the city they would learn if they were there upon legitimate business, if so they did not interfere with them. But if they had no legitimate business, they were then under the serviellance of the whittlers who would follow wherever they went, whittling and whistling. They did not molest them in any way, not even by talking to them but simply follow them, whittling and whistling as they went.
This was particularly annoying to such as were bent upon mischief; one individual felt so ill at ease that he went to President Brigham Young and complained that he was followed wherever he went, he admitted he was not molested or abused, but he did not like to be watched in all his movements. He said if he went into a house they waited until he came out again, and followed him as before; President Young talked to him kindly and they separated, but he still stayed in the city and was carefully watched. On Sunday during a meeting he rushed in almost breathless, exclaiming, “Mr. Young they are after me again!”
President Young quietly replied in the words of Martin Van Buren when President of the United States,–to Joseph Smith. “`Gentleman your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you’, the legislature has taken away our City Charter; we have no laws, nor power to protect you.”
Through the vigilance of our brethren who in this way protected the city, we were enabled to continue our labors until the [Nauvoo] temple was so far completed that a portion was dedicated for the purpose of giving endowments, thus we labored while the wicked raged, the mobs howled, but they could not stop the work on the temple until it was so far completed that it was accepted of the Lord.
While we were energetically performing our labors in the city, our brethren in the southern part of Hancock County was suffering from the malignity of the mob. While harvesting their grain the mob pounced upon them, and whipped some into insensibility, their backs being horribly cut from the lash. The suffering of the people in the outlaying settlements were terrible. In the forepart of September the mob commenced to burn the houses and grain. The sheriff endeavored to stay the mob, but in one week they burned near two hundred buildings and a large quantity of grain, as it was in the sickly season many died from exposure to the scorching rays of the sun and the dews of evening. Doctors, lawyers, statesmen, and Christians of various denominations, as well as military men from colonels down, were engaged in stealing cattle and anything they wanted.
They finally determined to drive the Saints from the country or exterminate them, and delegates were sent to Nauvoo to demand the departure of the Mormons. This delegation was met by the Twelve and answered for the people that the removal should take place as soon as possible.
General Hardin, commander of the state militia, was one of the delegates; he asked of the Twelve, “What guarantee will you give us?” Said President Young to him, “You have our all as guarantee.” Senator Douglas, another of the delegation, seemed satisfied with the answer.
These things did not come upon us unexpectedly,–at least to those who were watching the signs of the times–the Prophet Joseph had told us that many of us would live to go the “Rocky Mountains’, and there become a mighty people, therefore we were looking forward to this time. Some of us was afraid we would not have time to finish the [Nauvoo] temple before these things came upon us, they were coming so fast.
Joseph, when preaching upon the redemption of Zion, read from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the parable of the twelve olive trees,–a revelation given through him on the 16th December, 1833. Commencing at the 43rd verse–he explained this parable. He said, “The twelve olive trees were twelve stakes of Zion which should be built up; and thrown down by our enemies,” and while we were building the tower of the temple we could count that 12 stakes had been organized, and we were a little fearful we would not accomplish our part of the labor. We did however, although the finish was given, and the final dedication took place after the body of the Church had started from Nauvoo; the 12 stakes were broken down, and the people fled to the Rocky Mountains.
No general conference had been held for the last three years, according to the declaration of our martyred prophet, who said, “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead until the ordinances can be attended too in the font of the Lord’s House; and the Church shall not hold another General Conference, until they can meet in said House. For thus saith the Lord!”
Amid the scenes of persecution and trial we have passed through it gives us satisfaction to think that since April 6th, 1841, when the corner stones was laid amidst the most straightened circumstances the Saints can now meet in the Lord’s House, temporary floors be laid in the temple, and pulpits erected; also seats for the people, preparatory for a General Conference. The [Nauvoo] temple was entirely enclosed in windows, etc.
Conference assembled and the first meeting was held on Sunday the 5th, October 1845. President Young opened the services of the day in a dedicatory prayer, presenting the temple thus far completed, as a monument of the Saints liberality, fidelity, and faith, concluding with, “Lord we dedicate this house and ourselves to thee.” The day was occupied in hearing instructions and teachings, and offering up the gratitude of our hearts for so great a privilege as worshiping the God within his holy house, its motto, “Holiness to the Lord.”
The instructions we received throughout the conference was mostly in relation to our removal from the midst of mobs and strife and taking our journey to the west. President Young moved, “that we take all the Saints with us, to the extent of our ability,” which was seconded by Elder Heber C. Kimball, and unanimously carried. President Young then said, “If you will be faithful to your covenants, I will prophecy that the Great God will shower down means upon this people, to accomplish it to the very letter. The time has come sooner than I expected that, that scripture is being fulfilled, `My people shall be willing in the day of my power,’ and I thank God the time has come.”
The aged and honored mother of the prophet Joseph Smith had expressed a wish to speak to the congregation, and was invited to the stand. She spoke at considerable length and so clear as to be heard by a large portion of the vast assembly. Mother Lucy Smith’s speech:
She said she was truly glad that the Lord had let her see so large a congregation, she had a great deal of advise to give but Brother Brigham young had done the errand, he had fixed it completely. There were few comparatively in the congregation who were acquainted with her family, she was the mother of eleven children, seven of whom were boys. She raised them in the fear and love of God, and never was there a more obedient family. She warned parents, that they were accountable for their children’s conduct; and advised them to give them books and work to keep them from idleness; warned them all to be full of love, goodness, and kindness, and never do in secret, what they would not do in the presence of millions. She wished to know of the congregation, whether they considered her a mother in Israel, upon which President Brigham Young said, “All who consider mother Smith as a mother in Israel, signify it by saying, Yes!–” One universal “Yes” rang throughout.
She continued, that it was just eighteen years since Joseph Smith the prophet had become acquainted with the contents of the plates; and then, in a concise manner, related over the most prominent points in the early history of her family; their hardships, trials, privations, persecutions, sufferings, etc: some parts of which melted those who heard her to tears, especially that part relating to a scene in Missouri when her beloved son Joseph was condemned to be shot in fifteen minutes, and she by prodigous efforts was enabled to pass through the crowed to where he was, and to give him her hand, but could not see his face, he took her hand and kissed it. She said, “Let me hear your voice once more my son.” He said, “God bless you my dear mother!” She gave notice that she had written her history, and wished it printed before we leave this place.
She then mentioned a discourse once delivered by Joseph after his return from Washington, in which he said that he had done all that could be done on earth to obtain justice for their wrongs; but they were all, from the president to the judge, determined not to grant justice. “But,” said he, “keep good courage, these cases are recorded in heaven, and I am going to lay them before the highest court in heaven!” “Little,” said she, “did I then think he was so soon to leave us, to take the case up himself. And don’t you think this case is now being tried? I feel as though God was vexing this nation, a little here and there, and I feel that the Lord will let Brother Brigham take the people away.”
“Here, in this city, lay my dead; my husband, and children; and if so be the rest of my children go with you,–and I would to God they may all go–they will not go without me; and if I go, I want my bones brought back in case I die away, and deposited with my husband and children.” The closing remarks of mother Smith was not heard by all but President Young across and related them to the congregation and then said, `Mother Smith proposes a thing which rejoices my heart: she will go with us. I can answer for the authorities of the church; we want her and her children to go with us; and I pledge myself in behalf of the authorities of the church, that while we have anything, they shall share with us.”
“We have extended the helping hand to mother Smith. She has the best carriage in the city, and while she lives shall ride in it when and where she pleases. When William came here we furnished him a span of horses and a carriage, and a house, and Brother Kimball became responsible for the rent of it. He has run away in a time of trouble; but I suppose will come back when it is peace, we mean to have him with us yet.”
“Mother Smith proposes that she will go with us, if we will promise to bring back her remains, in case of her death, and deposit them with her husband’s. Also Josh once said, with outstretched arms, `If I fall in battle in Missouri, I want you to bring my bones back and deposit them in that sepulchre–I command you in the name of the Lord.’ And I pledge myself, if mother Smith goes with us and I outlive her, I will do my best to bring her bones back again, and deposit them with her children, and I want to know if this people are willing to enter into covenant to do the same.” The vote was unanimous.
“We are determined also to use every means in our power to do all that Joseph told us, and we will petition Sister Emma, in the name of Israel’s God, to let us deposit the remains of Joseph according as he commanded us. And if she will not consent to it, our garments are clear. Then when he awakes in the morning of the resurrection, he shall talk with them, not with me; the sin to [be] upon her head, not ours.”
Conference over, we continued our labors on the temple with renewed diligence completing portions, that the endowments might be bestowed upon the living for themselves and their dead; at the same time wagon companies were organized to make wagons for the journey to the Rocky Mountains.
There was quite a number of such companies, in fact the whole people was interested in some one of them. I was called upon to superintend the one called the Michigan Wagon Company’s Shop. I made a boring and mortising machine to facilitate the work. There was much to do and little time to do it. During these labors I was called to the temple to receive my endowments and sealings, as Joseph said, “Those whose names are on the books showing their labors for the temple, shall have the first claim.” President Brigham Young and the Twelve were very particular to carry out his instructions; they saw that those who spent their whole time in these labors received the reward of their diligence by giving them a great endowment.
During the progress of wagon making there were many who apostatized, and in the Michigan Wagon Company many followed after “Strang” [James J. Strange]. In the meetings held by the company much discussion took place on the authority of James J. Strang, in opposition to Brigham Young. They professed to know they were right by the spirit; that would end all argument. John E. Page, one of the Twelve apostles, was one of them. He styled himself, “The Champion of the Book of Mormon.” I felt sorry to see so many led away by this spirit, blinded by unbelief and led captive by the enemy of all righteousness. In connection with other brethren I labored with them to show them they were in error but to no purpose, for they would declare they knew Strang was the man to follow by the spirit. They were receiving communications from Strang as revelation from God, and it was no easy matter to convince them that he was deceiving them; but in the course of events John E. Page became convinced of the deception, and left the city in the night. He had been very enthusiastic declaring he knew the revelation he had received purporting to come from Strang was true by the same spirit he knew the Book of Mormon was true. This revelation was written in Nauvoo by Charles W. Wandell.
There were some men who hung on, so they might receive their endowments and then left. One man wrote a book and undertook to expose the endowments, but he only injured himself in the estimation of honest men. As Brother Heber C. Kimball said upon one occasion about this time, “We might as well endow a bag of sand as these men, but we have to do it, or, our lives are in danger.” But it was a hurrying time, the endowments was in progress day and night. One company followed the other in quick succession, and in the short time of about six weeks the work was accomplished, then the temple was dismantled, and the “exodus” began.
“Pray that you may live to go into the [Nauvoo] temple, and be sealed in your forehead,” said the Prophet Joseph. I have lived to enjoy this blessing and received my wife in the new and everlasting covenant, the celestial or eternal marriage covenant, a covenant which binds for time and all eternity.
What a grand and glorious provision for the future, that an eternal union can be formed here on earth between a man and his wife, sealed by the authority of Jesus Christ, by men ordained to that power, “to seal on earth and it shall be sealed in heaven,” which bond or union shall last to all eternity; Paul says, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord. By these holy ordinances in the temple those blessings are received, whereby fathers, and mothers, wife and children, family associations will be enjoyed after the resurrection of the dead, when they will live forever, for `there will be no more death.'”
Compare the principles of salvation given through the inspiration of God, with those taught by the “Christian” world, who teach that when death overtake you, there is an eternal separation of kindred and families, those who are good go directly to heaven where God and Christ dwell; while those equally good but who have made no profession of religion, go into hell, a place of torment. That those who go to heaven will enjoy everlasting felicity, eternal happiness, and supreme enjoyment, in knowing or seeing their friends, mayhap a father or mother, or it may be a husband or wife, or child wethering in hell fire in eternal misery, and this is to continue throughout the endless ages of eternity, with no opportunity of changing their situation. They will sing and give glory to God, etc. What a horrible picture to conjure up before the mind and call it just, it is nothing short of, “the doctrines of devils.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ gives assurance of better things. All mankind are the children of God, descended from one common parentage, and he has made provision for all his children, by which they may be saved, after they have suffered the peneuty of their misdeeds, all will be judged according to the deeds done in the body; all will come forth in the resurrection, “they that have done good in the resurrection of the just, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of the unjust.” There will be none lost except the sons of perdition, those who sin against the Holy Ghost, who shed innocent blood or consent thereto.
The first company left Nauvoo some time in the forepart of February 1846, it was very cold weather. They crossed the Mississippi River on the ice, taking with them the four cannons we had prepared; they made their first camp on Sugar Creek a few miles from Nauvoo. It was a cold dreary season of the year to leave comfortable homes, with delicate women and tender offspring, but the hand of persecution knows no pity.
A continuous stream of wagons and vehicles of all kinds crossed the river as fast as they could be got ready and went into camp on Sugar Creek where they wer organized into companies for their long journey.
I visited President Young before he broke camp and found him suffering from an attack of rheumatism and was walking on crutches, attending to his many duties, answering questions, giving directions, etc., but kind and courteous as ever.
Elder Orson Hyde, of the Quroum of Twelve Apostles was left to take charge of affairs until the temple was finished, and under his presidency the final dedication took place, a meeting was held on the morning 1846 . . . . May, and again in the evening, when each one present was arrayed in priestly robes, and thus in proper order the temple was dedicated. A circumstance took place upon this occasion which very forcibly reminded me of the parable, of the marriage of the king’s son, Matthew 22nd Chapter, 11-12 verses: “When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on the wedding garment, and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechles.” On this occasion a man had the garments but did not know how to clothe himself, asked me to help him. I inquired, “Have you had your endowments?” He answered, “No.” He was in a manner speechless, he had to retire.
Elder Orson Hyde left for the west as soon as he completed his labors, appointing three trustees to take charge of the church property. While we were engaged in this sacred duty, (dedicating the temple) officers arrived from Warsaw arrested O. P. Rockwell, for the shooting of one Warrol, a mobocrat. They took him to Galena for trial; where Sheriff Backenstos testified to the fact that O. P. Rockwell shot Worrel by his order as sheriff and Porter was discharged when immediately a writ was served on him by his friends which brought him back to Nauvoo and took him out of the reach of his enemies.
The temple completed and dedicated we now prepared to leave Nauvoo, but having spent all my time on the temple and other public buildings, in the wagon shop etc., I was not prepared to journey west until I could obtain provisions. Brother Truman O. Angell after finishing his work on the temple, dug a well for which he received thirty dollars; this he insisted upon sharing with me. He urged me to take the half of it and go along with him, but I could not do that, he needed much more than he had for his own family. I finally said, “Truman I do appreciate your kindness and generosity, I am anxious to go with you but you have not half you need for yourself. You have a large family and must go; mine is small, I can stay and earn means and follow, but you must go; God bless you,” and thus we parted.
About this time Phineas Young returned from the camps of the Saints to attend to some business at La Harpe. He was kidnapped by a mob. As soon as the news reached Nauvoo, companies of men started out to find him, his captors kept him moving from place to place near two weeks, almost without food or rest, to keep him out of reach of the posse’s which was sent to find him. At length the brethren were so close upon them they let him go. When he reached his friends, writs were issued and his kidnappers were arrested and brought to Nauvoo and placed under guard in the Masonic Hall, for several days when they were released on writs of habeas corpus.
As soon as they were released, these kindappers, they got out writs for the brethren who arrested them. These writs was made returnable in the southern part of Illinois, a long distance from Nauvoo.
The officers came to Nauvoo with the writs and served several. William Pickitt, a man who knew no fear, learned that the officers had a writ for him. Seeing them enter a store where he was sitting, he instantly arose to his feet, and before they had time to serve the writ on him, he drew a pistol and said, he “Hoped God would strike him dead, if he didn’t shoot the man that said writ to him.”
Now this is just what our enemies had wanted; to resist an officer in the discharge of his duty, gave them some pretext, although everyone knew the Mormons were being hounded to death, and was really justified in resisting an officer of mob law.
This brought on what is known as the last fight in Nauvoo. One of the committee, A. W. Babbitt wishing to please and assist the “New Citizens,” (who were moving into Nauvoo) in the coming election called a meeting in the temple for, said he, “I want to talk to the brethren”. At this meeting he advised them to stay in Nauvoo until after the election which was close by and “vote with the new citizens.” He said “it was a dish of ____sugar,” something else not so nice, but advised them to take it. He expected to gain some political advantage by it. He urged them farther by saying if they went across the river they would starve to death, and to prevent their going he took possession of the ferry boat and got it out of the way so it was impossible for the brethren to cross the river, although they were encamped on the river bank with their wives and children in wagons and tents awaiting their turn to be ferried across.
The farmers on the Iowa side of the river were wanting help to harvest their grain. Elder Hyde was writing, urging the brethren to get over the river while Babbitt sneering, remarked “I [guess] Old Hyde’s getting religion.” Instead of using his influence to have the people comply with the council of an Apostle he laid every obstacle in the way to prevent them from complying.
I listened to his remarks but I concluded, I for one would not take the “dish” he was preparing. I found a man living at Nashville a little town on the Iowa side of the river, three or four miles below Montrose; who had a flat boat which was sunk in the river. He said if I could raise it I could have the use of it. I went to work and with the assistance of Brother Curtis E. Bolton and some others of the brethren, we raised and used it, and got our families across the river. Others made good use of this opportunity also. My family consisted of myself, my wife and four children; John, Emily, Jane and George. I had two yoke of oxen and a wagon and what things we could carry in the wagon. I left house and lot, and the furniture in the house unsold. The river was very low at this time and I waded most of the way across guiding the boat to keep it from going too far down stream. Where the water was to deep for me to wade I jumped into the boat until we came to shallow water, when I again got out and waded to guide the boat.
We started from the Nauvoo House and landed a mile and a half below Montrose. I drove my wagon up the river and camped about a quarter of a mile below Montrose. One of the brethren had engaged a job of work for me upon a flat-boat, that was to be fitted up for a boarding house. I had worked upon this job only a few days when some of the brethren came over in a skiff from Nauvoo, after me. The mob was preparing to come against Nauvoo and the committee sent for me to plan some means of defense. I got into the skiff and returned with them.
Upon reaching Nauvoo I learned that the mob had gained possession of the six field pieces that had been taken from us. The Nauvoo Legion by the order of Governor Ford, and was going to use them against the city. Knowing full well that Nauvoo was defenseless, I made some plans for the brethren to work and I returned to my work upon the flat boat. They were idle while I had an opportunity of earning bread; however in a day or two the committee
For several days the mob bombarded the city and several battles were fought, in the last battle Brother William Anderson was killed, his son about twelve years old was killed almost at the same time by a cannon ball from the mob which passed through the corner of a house and struck him. Another man in the ranks was killed; I have forgotten his name, some were wounded. . .
The little band of brethren and some of the new citizens made a brave stand against the mob. Sometimes the cannon balls from the mob would be picked up and loaded into our steamboat shaft cannon and fired back at them. Ammunition was scarce with us and we were but a handful; some said not more than one hundred men against one thousand of the mob. In the midst of these scenes a committee of the citizens of Quincy arrived, and viewing the battle from the top of the temple declared they were the bravest little band of men that ever lived. They came to Nauvoo for the purpose of acting as mediators.
After the battle I assisted in the burial of Brother William Anderson and his son. He was a noble man, a brave officer, a good man. At the grave I bade farewell to his almost heart-broken wife; I never saw her again. From the top of the lower of the temple I could overlook the spot where my family was camped. I was in the habit of ascending to the tower every morning, seeing the wagon where I had left it. I was satisfied but one morning upon doing so I could not for some cause see the wagon, although it was there just the same, but I could not see it. I was very uneasy, I had learned that a great deal of excitement existed on the Iowa side of the Mississippi between Montrose and Keokuk, and I [feared] for their safety. I obtained permission from the committee to go over and see what was the matter. I crossed the river to Montrose and walked along down the river to where I had left my family in camp. I met my wife and son John just about to step into a skiff to cross over to Nauvoo to see what had become of me; the noise of battle, the booming of cannon had made them so anxious, they concluded they must go over and learn if I was still alive.
As I approached toward them, my son saw me and joyfully exclaimed, “By George, there’s Father!” It was a great relief to my anxious wife and children to see me once more safe. I instructed my son John to have the cattle where he could get them to the wagon in a hurry, then I went up to the town to see what was going on there. All was excitement, men were gathered in little crowds talking in an excited manner of what was taking place at Nauvoo, of the fighting, etc. One man standing upon a dry goods box was making a vehement speech, saying terrible things of what the Mormons were doing. He said a red flag was flying on the top of the temple, and that meant blood. He told them the Mormons had done awful things, he tried to tell all about our defenses we had made, and undertook to tell the name of the man that directed the preparation and putting down “of them Hell Half-Acres”‘ as he called them.
He could not remember the man’s name, and it was well for me he had forgotten it, there was many present who knew me, had he mentioned my name I should have stood a poor chance of escape for they were blinded by fury and excitement. I was armed with a six shooter and a bowie knife inside my buttoned up coat, had they molested me I would have defended myself to the best of my ability, as I thought, “I will give them the best shot in the locker,” but in such a crowd of excited men they would have made short work of me. One man standing nearby spoke a little favorable of the Mormons was knocked down instantly. I concluded the best thing for me to do was to move off quietly, and as speedily as possible. I walked to the Flatboat to gather up my tools. I found them scattered over several flatboats. I finally succeeded in getting them together and took them to my wagon, and while I packed my tools away my son got the cattle and hitched them to the wagon. All this was accomplished in the shortest time possible; while I gathered up my tools, no one seemed to notice me, no one interfered. My son started the team, we drove through Montrose passing by the excited crowds, travelled about two miles from Montrose and camped under the bluffs. No one molested us and we returned our thanks to God our Father for his protecting care in preserving us from the violence of the excited mob men.
A short time after we camped and a little while after dark, Brother William Pickett, reached our camp in a disguise. He had fled from Nauvoo bringing us the news, that the trustees of the Church had made a treaty with the mob, for the surrender of the city and its immediate evacuation by the remnant of the Saints. This treaty was made the same day I left Nauvoo, September 16th, 1846. Brother Pickett remained with us all night; we made him a bed in our tent. We conversed very late into the night upon our situation.
Five men, including the trustees of the Church, and five clerks with their families,–William Pickett, not to be one of the number–to be permitted to remain in the city for the disposition of property, free from all molestation and personal violence. Hostilities to cease immediately, and ten men of the Quincy Committee to enter the city in the execution of their duty as soon as they think proper. This treaty was signed by the trustees of the church; Andrew Johnson, chairman of the Commitee of Quincy. Thomas L Brockman, commanding the mob forces; and John Carlin, Special Constable. The mob led by Brockman immediately entered the city. They defiled the temple in an outrageous manner, with drunkeness, gambling and ribaled song, they paid no attention to the stipulations of the treaty. They ransacked wagons for arms, drove men across the river at the point of the bayonet, Father John Stiles, as we familiarly called him, an old man, and others were forced to the river at the point of the bayonet, and baptized face downward in the name of Tom Sharp the leader of the mob, and editor of the Warsaw Signal.
Farewell Nauvoo the Beautiful, The City of Joseph! The home of so much joy and happy contentment, and also of the most exquisite sorrow and anguish; here I enjoyed the association of our beloved Prophet, and Patriarch, whose blood has been shed by a mob, while under the pledge of the governor of Illinois that they should be protected. I have listened to the words of inspiration as they fell from the lips of the Prophet of God, in public and in private in his house and in my own house, also addressing the Legion as Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion. I have known him under all circumstances, and do know no purer, braver, better, or more patriotic man never lived. This I can truly say of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The Prophet and Patriarch who was murdered in cold blood in Carthage Jail, Illinois. They sealed their testimony with their blood; they died for their friends, and for the cause of Christ Jesus; “Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Farewell to the temple upon which I have labored with so much pleasure, the second temple erected to the only true and living God, in which the ordinances of the Holy Priesthood might be administered to the living and for the dead, in this generation. The order of architecture was unlike anything in existence; it was purely original, being a representation of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. John, the Revelation in the 12 chapter, first verse says, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” This is portrayed in the beautifully cut stone of this grand temple which cost about two million dollars. The cost was so great, it was said by some that the state of Illinois could not have built such a costly building without bankrupting the state. Yet this was built by the energy, tithes and offerings of an honest, although a poor, persecuted people.