My great grandfather, Josiah Woodruff, lived nearly one hundred years, and possessed an iron constitution, and performed a great amount of manual labor nearly up to the time of his death. His wife’s name was Sarah; she bore to him nine children, as follows:–Josiah, Appleton, Eldad, Elisha, Joseph, Rhoda, Phebe, and [two names not given.]
My grandfather, Eldad Woodruff, was the third son of Josiah. He was born in Farmington, Hartford County, Connecticut, in 1751; he also possessed a strong constitution. It was said that he performed the most labor for several years of any man in Hartford County, and from overexertion in hewing timber, he was attacked with rheumatism in his right hip, which caused severe lameness for several years before his death. He married Dinah Woodford, by whom he had seven children–viz., Eldad, Elizabeth, Samuel, Aphek, Titus, Helen and Ozem.
Eldad married Lewey Woodford; Elizabeth, Amasa Frisby; Samuel, Miss Case; Aphek, Beulah Thompson and Azubah Hart; Titus, Louisa Allen; Helen, Amos Wheeler; and Ozem, Acksah Merrill and Hannah Hart; all of whom had large families.
My grandfather died in Farmington, with the spotted fever, in 1806, aged 55 years. My grandmother, Dinah, died in 1824, in the same place, with a cancer in the left breast; her sufferings were very great.
My father, Aphek Woodruff, was born in Farmington, November 11, 1778; he married Beulah Thompson, who was born in 1782, November 29, 1801. She bore three sons–namely, Azmon, born November 29, 1802; Ozen Thompson, born December 22, 1804; myself born March 1, 1807.
My mother died with the spotted fever, June 11, 1808, aged 26 years, leaving me fifteen months old. My father’s second wife, Azubah Hart, was born July 31, 1792; they were married November 9, 1810; they had six children–viz., Philo, born November 29, 1811, and died by poison administered by a physician November 25, 1827; Asahel Hart, born April 11, 1814, and died in Terrahaute [Terrehaute], October 18, 1838; Franklin, born March 12, 1816, and died June 1; Newton, born June 19, 1818, drowned September 1820; Julius, born April 22, 1820, and died in infancy; Eunice, born June 19, 1821. I married her to Dwight Webster, in Farmington, Connecticut, August 4, 1841.
My father was a strong-constitutioned man, and has done a great amount of labor. At eighteen years of age he commenced attending a flouring sawmill, and continued about 50 years; most of this time he labored eighteen hours a day.
He never made any profession of religion until I baptized him, with all his household, into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the first day of July 1838. He was a man of great charity, honesty, integrity and truth, and made himself poor by giving to the poor, and accommodating his fellowmen by loaning money and becoming surety for his neighbors, and always saying yes to every man who asked a favor at his hand.
I was born in the north part of the town of Farmington, now called Avon, Hartford County, Connecticut, March 1, 1807. I assisted my father in attending the Farmington Mills, until I was twenty years of age.
In April 1827, I took the flouring mill of my aunt, Helen Wheeler, which I attended three years. In May 1830, I took charge of the flouring mill of Mr. Collins, the ax manufacturer, in South Canton, Connecticut. At the end of one year it was demolished to make way for other machinery. In March 1831, I took charge of the flouring mill owned by Mr. Richard B. Cowles of New Hartford, Connecticut. In the spring of 1832, in company with my oldest brother, Azmon, I went to Richland, Oswego County, New York, and purchased a farm and sawmill, and settled in business.
At an early age my mind was exercised upon religious subjects, although I never made a profession until 1830. I did not then join any church, for the reason that I could not find any denomination whose doctrines, faith or practice, agreed with the gospel of Jesus Christ, or the ordinances and gifts which the Apostles taught. Although the ministers of the day taught that the faith, gifts, graces, miracles and ordinances, which the ancient Saints enjoyed, were done away and no longer needed, I did not believe it to be true, only as they were done away through the unbelief of the children of men. I believed the same gifts, graces, miracles and power would be manifest in one age of the world as in another, when God had a church upon the earth, and that the Church of God would be reestablished upon the earth, and that I should live to see it. These principles were riveted upon my mind from the perusal of the Old and New Testament[s], with fervent prayer that the Lord would show me what was right and wrong, and lead me in the path of salvation, without any regard to the opinions of man; and the whisperings of the Spirit of the Lord for the space of three years, taught me that he was about to set up his Church and kingdom upon the earth in the last days. I was taught these things from my youth by Robert Mason, an aged man, who lived in Simsbury, Connecticut, who was frequently called the old prophet Mason. He taught me many things which are now coming to pass. He did not believe that any man had authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel, but believed it was our privilege, through faith, prayer and fasting, to heal the sick and cast out devils by the laying on of hands, which was the case under his administration, as many could testify.
In 1832, I was inspired to go to Rhode Island; my brother, Asahel, was also directed by the Spirit of God to go to the same place. When we met, we both told our impressions, and it caused us to marvel and wonder what the Lord wanted of us in Rhode Island; but, as we had made preparations to move to the west, we let outward circumstances control us, and, Jonah like, instead of going to Rhode Island, we went to Richland, Oswego County, New York, and there remained until December 29, 1833, when I heard Elders Zerah Pulsipher and Elijah Cheeny preach. My brother Azmon and I believed their testimony, entertained the elders, and offered ourselves for baptism the first sermon we heard. We read the Book of Mormon, and I received a testimony that it was true.
We soon learned what the Lord wanted of us in Rhode Island, for at the time we were warned to go there, two of the elders were preaching there, and had we gone, we should have embraced the work at that time.
December 31.–I was baptized by Elder Zerah Pulsipher; he confirmed me the same evening.
January 2, 1834.–I was ordained a teacher, and my brother Azmon an elder, and a small branch organized of twelve members, by Elder Pulsipher.
In February following, in company with Elder Holton, I walked some sixty miles to the town of Fabius, to attend an evening meeting of the Saints in that place, where Elder Pulsipher was presiding. I saw the book of commandments or revelations given through Joseph Smith, and I believed them with all my heart, and rejoiced therein; and after spending several days, and holding several meetings, we returned home rejoicing.
During the winter, we were visited by several of the elders. February 1st, Elder Parley P. Pratt called upon us and instructed the branch till midnight; we had a precious time. I accompanied Brother Pratt to Jefferson County, and told him my circumstances; he said it was my duty to prepare myself to go to Kirtland, and join the camp of Zion. I immediately settled my business.
April 11, 1834.–With my horses and wagon, I took Brothers Harry Brown and Warren Ingles, and started for Zion. I met with Orson Pratt, John Murdoch [Murdock] and other elders, on the way, and arrived in Kirtland on the 25th day of April, 1834.
The Prophet Joseph invited me to make his house my home; I accepted his offer, and stayed with him about one week. I became acquainted with many of the high priests, elders and Saints. I spent one Sabbath in Kirtland, and heard many of the elders speak, and I felt to rejoice before God for the light and knowledge which was manifested to me during that day.
May 1.–I started from Kirtland, and went to New Portage, and remained till all the company joined us, when we were organized. [Zion’s camp].
March 7.–We took up our line of march, pitched our tents by the way, and travelled to Missouri. After we had pitched our tents in Clay County (our numbers being two hundred five) and many of the brethren had taken sick, and some had died, Joseph requested the camp to disperse, except enough to take care of the sick. All who had teams were required to leave the ground and go among the brethren. I went to Brother Lyman Wight’s, in company with Heman Hyde and Milton Holmes. Shortly, Joseph called the brethren together at Lyman Wight’s, and told them if they would humble themselves before the Lord, and covenant to keep his commandments and obey his counsel, the plague should be stayed from that hour, and there should not be another case of cholera in the camp. The brethren covenanted to do this, and the plague was stayed, and there was not another case in camp.
President Joseph Smith returned to Kirtland with many of the brethren; I remained with Lyman Wight, laboring with my hands till the following winter.
I had a great desire to preach the gospel, which I did not name to my brethren; but one Sunday evening I retired into the woods alone, and called upon the Lord in earnest prayer, to open my way to go and preach the gospel to the inhabitants of the earth. The Spirit of the Lord bore witness that my prayer was heard, and should be answered. I arose from my knees happy, and walked some forty rods, and met Elias Higbee, a high priest, with whom I had stayed a number of months. As I approached him, he said, “Brother Wilford, the Spirit of the Lord tells me that you should be ordained, and go on a mission.” I replied, “I am ready.”
At a meeting of the high council at Lyman Wight’s, Clay County, Missouri, November 5th, I was ordained a priest by Elder Simeon Carter; Stephen Winchester and Heman T. Hyde were also ordained priests.
Bishop [Edward] Partridge said he would like to have me go into the Southern States, through Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky; and if I could find anybody who had faith enough to go with me–for it would be a dangerous country to travel in, in consequence of the Missouri persecutions–to take him. I told him I was as ready to go south as anywhere, and asked if I should go through Jackson County, as it lay in our route. He replied, it would be at the risk of life, and he had not faith enough to undertake it; if I had, I might try it. I also asked him, if I went through Jackson County, if I should start without purse or scrip, according to the law of God. He answered, that he had not faith enough to start on a mission through Jackson County without money, and if I did it, I must do it on my own faith. I felt strenuous to keep the commandments, so I started without money. I called upon Elder Harry Brown, and asked him to accompany me; he consented, and Bishop Partridge appointed him to go with me.
January 13, 1835.–I received an honorable discharge from Lyman Wight, certifying that I had faithfully performed my duties in Zion’s Camp.
I took my valise in hand, weighing 15 lbs., mostly Books of Mormon, and started in company with Elder Harry Brown, crossed the river into Jackson County, and felt thankful. We bowed our knees, and prayed that God might protect us from the mob while going through the country, and that his judgments might rest upon the wicked who had shed the blood of the Saints in that land, that the land might be cleansed from sin. I had a petition to the governor of Missouri, for redress of wrongs perpetrated upon us in Jackson County, for the purpose of obtaining signatures. We bent our way south, through Jackson County, without any molestation; yet, in one instance, we were preserved from a mob of about sixty, assembled at a grogshop which we had to pass.
June [January] 18.–We called at the Harmony mission, and had an interview with the president, a Presbyterian minister. Although it was near sundown, he would neither give us anything to eat, nor lodge us, because we were “Mormons.” It was fifteen miles to the nearest house, which was Jerrew’s Indian trading house. We asked the minister to direct us there. He gave us directions, but the Spirit said to me he was deceiving us. I asked him three times, and he declared he was telling us the truth. We followed his directions, and we came to the Osage River swamp, where we were lost in darkness of the night. We followed the river, but as it is very crooked, we made but little progress. After travelling through mud and water for one hour, we concluded to go ut on the open prairie, and lie down in the grass until morning; but when we got out into the prairie, we heard the Osage Indians’ drum and shout at the trading house, as they were having a powwow. As we approached, we were met by a dozen large savage-looking dogs; they smelled us in a friendly manner, but did not attempt to bite nor bark. We arrived about midnight, covered with mud, hungry and weary, and were kindly received and entertained for the remainder of the night by Mr. Jerrew, who had an Osage squaw for a wife; she prepared us a good supper, but marvelled that we did not drink coffee. She proffered us their best bed, which was highly ornamented, but we declined her kind offer, as we were wet and muddy. She made us a good bed of mackinaw blankets, before a large fire, and we slept comfortably. May the Lord reward both Mr. Jerrew and wife, and the Presbyterian minister, according their deserts.
June [January] 19.–Mr. Jerrew gave us a good breakfast, put us across the Osage River in a canoe, and we started upon our long day’s walk, it being sixty miles to the nearest house. We had not anything with us to eat. Most of our travels through the day was through prairie; before dark we entered timbered land; as we approached the timber, a large black bear met us; we had no weapons. When the bear got within about six rods of us, he rose upon his hind feet, and examined us a short time, and went off. We were soon enveloped in such thick darkness, that it was with great difficulty we could keep the road, and surrounded by a large drove of wolves, which kept up a continual howling, and would frequently rush to within a few feet of us. We travelled about two hours in this situation, feeling that we were in danger, and concluded to stop and build a fire, and wait till morning.
Accordingly, we built a large fire, which drove the wolves off; and as we were about to lie down, we heard a dog bark, and a bell. We felt assured we were near a house; both of us took a brand of fire, and on going about one quarter of a mile, we came to a log hut, which was occupied by Mr. Williams, who had been in Jackson County during the mobbing of the Saints, and had lately moved here, depending upon his gun mostly for his living. It was sixty miles to a house on the north, and twelve miles on the south. He and his family were living in a small, old log hut, about twelve feet square, and one bed in the room, upon which lay his wife, several children and three young dogs. He lay stretched out upon the bare floor, with his feet to a small fire. There was no door to the house, but a ragged quilt hung up in the doorway; it was past eleven o’clock at night. I turned away the quilt, looked into the house, and spoke three times; no one stirred, not even a dog. I walked in, and laid my hands upon the man’s shoulder, and spoke to him. The moment he felt the weight of my hand, he leaped to his feet, and commenced running around the room, leaping as high as he could jump. I told him not to be frightened, as we were travellers and friends, and did not wish to hurt him, but wished to stop with him overnight. When he came to his senses, he gave us permission to stop with him till morning, if we would take the bare floor, as he did. We asked for something to eat, as we had walked sixty miles without a morsel of food. He replied, he had nothing for us, and assured us he had to kill game for his breakfast in the morning. He informed us that the reason of his fright, was in consequence of his having shot a large panther, a few nights previous, standing in his door, and he thought his mate had lit upon him. We lay down upon the floor, and we were glad of this place, as it soon began to rain, and rained through the night.
In the morning we arose, and went on in the rain twelve miles, to a Mr. Conner’s, who was also in the Jackson County mob. He gave us breakfast, but damned us while we were eating, because we were “Mormons.” When we had finished a hearty breakfast, we thanked him very politely, and went on our way, leaving him swearing. We felt thankful for breakfast, for we had walked seventy-two miles without eating food. We taught from house to house as we journeyed.
January 24 –I preached at Mr. Nathan Tanner’s, in Green County, Missouri, the first time we had found a congregation we could preach to in safety, and the first time that I had ever attempted to preach as a missionary. I had great liberty, and was followed by Elder Brown. During our preaching, there was a snowstorm.
We arrived at Petty John Creek, in Arkansas, where Mr. Alexander Akeman resided, with a large family of sons and one daughter, settled around him. Mr. Akeman, and a part of the family, were members of the Church in Jackson County; his wife died strong in the faith in Missouri. His whole family were mobbed, and some of his sons were whipped severely; but he could not stand the persecution and the loss of his property. He moved to Arkansas, to get rid of “Mormonism,” had apostatized, and was bitter against the work. When we called upon him, he opposed us strongly–spoke against the leaders of the Church and the Book of Mormon. He had one son who received us, and had a little faith. I dreamed the night before, that we were required to walk in a straight, narrow path; and while following the path, it led to the door of a house, which was placed in a high wall that we could not get around. As I opened the door to go through, I saw the room was filled with large serpents. I entered, and they all coiled up to jump at me; as they made a spring to bite me, they all fell dead at my feet, turned black, swelled up, burst open, took fire, and were consumed before my eyes.
We met with much opposition from Mr. Akeman, and many in the neighborhood. Elder Brown wished to leave the place immediately. I told him I should stay, and see my dream fulfilled. We stayed in the neighborhood twenty-five days, during which time the Lord brought judgment upon those who threatened to mob and kill us; many of them died suddenly, and I was warned three times by the Lord, to go to Mr. Akeman, and bear testimony unto him of the truth of “Mormonism,” and the wickedness of his course in opposing it; and the last time I called upon him, he was filled with wrath against me, and when I left his house, he followed me in a rage, apparently with some evil intent. When I had got a few rods from his door, he was nearly treading on my heels, and fell dead at my feet, as though he had been struck with lightning; he swelled, and immediately turned black. This created a great wailing and mourning among his family. Brother Brown and myself assisted in laying him out and burying him. He died February 14, 1835.
This singular dispensation of Providence brought solemnity upon the people, and they began to reflect and wished to hear preaching. We held several meetings and preached, and baptized Mr. Hubbel and his wife, who had opened their doors and given us a home; and just as we had got the people prepared to receive the gospel and anxious to learn, and pleading with us to stay and preach, Brother Brown resolved that he would continue his journey south. I was fully satisfied that we should stop, we would built up a church, and was convinced it was our duty to stop; but Brother Brown held the office of an elder, and I submitted.
Brother Brown did not baptize another person on the mission.
We cut down a large cottonwood tree, and in two days dug out a canoe four feet wide and twelve long, put on a pair of oars, and then rowed down the Arkansas River, one hundred twenty-five miles, to Little Rock, begging our food by the way, a meal at a time, as we had opportunity. After visiting Little Rock, we travelled down the river ten miles, and tied up our canoe on the east bank, and stopped with Mr. Jones. I preached next day at his house. On the 16th we left our canoe with Mr. Jones, and walked back up the river ten miles, opposite Little Rock, and took the old military road, and started to wade the Mississippi swamp, which was mostly covered with water from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Memphis, Tennessee, a distance of about one hundred seventy-five miles. We waded through mud and water knee-deep, day after day, and in some instances forty miles per day, before we could get a stopping place.
On the 24th, while in the swamps, I had an attack of the rheumatism, and could not travel fast. My companion, Brother Brown, had got in a hurry, and wished to return to his family in Kirtland; and as I could not travel as fast as he wished, we parted. He left me sitting on a log in the mud and water; I was lame and unable to walk, without food, and twelve miles from the nearest house on the road. He went out of sight in great haste. I then knelt down in the water, and prayed to the Lord to heal me. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I was healed; the pain left me; I arose and went my way. Whenever I met with one or more families, I preached and bore testimony to them.
I crossed the Mississippi River [to Memphis, Tennessee] in the evening of the 27th of March, and stayed at a public house kept by Mr. Josiah Jackson. I was suspected of being an impostor. Mr. Jackson believed I was one of Murril’s clan, who were then murdering and stealing negroes; and to test me, he gathered together a large house full of the most wicked and corrupt people in the city, and set me to preaching, to see whether I could preach or not.
I do not think that Mr. Jackson, or the same company of men and women, will ever meet together again for the same purpose, for they would not like again to have their sins and abominations revealed to each other as pointedly as I told them that night, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; they were glad to get rid of me upon almost any terms.
I travelled from Memphis to Middle Tennessee.
April 4.–I met with Elder Warren Parrish in Benton County. He and David W. Patten had labored together through the winter in Tennessee and baptized twenty persons. Elder Patten had returned to Kirtland. I joined Elder Parrish, and we labored together over three months, travelling and preaching daily; baptizing such as would receive our testimony; extending our labors in Tennessee and Kentucky.
June 23.–We received a letter from Oliver Cowdery, requesting Elder Parrish to come to Kirtland, and for me to remain and take charge of the southern churches, and the Lord would bless me in so doing.
June 28.–Warren Parrish ordained me an elder. We baptized some forty persons while laboring together.
July 23.–Elder Parrish left. I travelled alone through the year, and extended my labors both in Kentucky and Tennessee. I baptized forty-three persons during this season, thirty-one after Brother Parrish left.
November 15.–While traveling in the night, with Brother Benjamin L. Clapp and others, a tremendous storm of wind and rain overtook us. We came to a creek which had swollen to such an extent by the rain, that we could not cross without swimming our horses; several of the company were females. We undertook to head the stream, to ford it; but in the attempt, in the midst of the darkness and the raging of the wind and rain, we were lost in the thick woods, amidst the rain, wind, creeks and fallen treetops. We crossed streams nearly twenty times. I was reminded of Paul’s perils by water; but the Lord was merciful unto us in the midst of our troubles, for while we were groping in the dark, running the risk of killing both ourselves and animals, by riding off precipitous bluffs, a bright light suddenly shone round about us, and revealed our perilous situation, as were upon the edge of a deep gulf. The light continued with us until we found a house, and learned the right road; then the light disappeared, and we were enabled to reach the house of Brother Henry Thomas, at nine o’clock, all safe, having rode twenty miles, five hours in the storm; and we felt to thank the Lord for our preservation.
During the winter and spring, I continued to labor mostly alone, through Kentucky and Tennessee, opening new places, preaching daily, baptizing, confirming, and organizing new branches.
February 26, 1836.–At a conference held at Brother B. [Benjamin] L. Clapp’s, in Callaway County, Kentucky, I ordained A. [Abraham] O. Smoot and Benjamin Boydston, elders, and B. L. Clapp and Daniel Thomas, priests.
Brothers Smoot and Clapp both entered into the labors of the ministry. Elder Smoot frequently accompanied me on my mission. Elder D. [David] W. Patten returned to Tennessee in April, and joined us in our labors, accompanied by his wife. It was a happy meeting. He related to me the blessings he had received in Kirtland during the endowments. We travelled and labored together; persecution raged against us. Elder Patten bore a strong and forcible testimony of the work of God; and when we were opposed by mobs, he would rebuke them in great plainness; we were threatened, but not injured. The sick were healed under our administrations.
May 27.–Elder Warren Parrish arrived from Kirtland. We held a conference on the 28th, at Brother Seth Utley’s. Seven branches were represented, containing 116 members. Abel Wilson and Jesse Turpin were ordained priests, and Albert Petty a teacher. –31,–I was ordained by David W. Patten, a member of the Second Quorum of Seventies. We labored over a circuit of several hundred miles. Brother [Abraham O.] Smoot labored with us, and Brother Clapp frequently. We travelled two by two, and all met together to hold conferences.
June 19.–A state’s warrant was issued against D. [David] W. Patten, Warren Parrish and Wilford Woodruff, sworn out by Matthew Williams, a Methodist priest, and served by the sheriff, Robert C. Petty. Elders Patten and Parrish were taken by an armed mob of about fifty, under pretense of law, led by the sheriff, a colonel, first and second major, with other officers, and a Methodist priest with a gun upon his shoulder. I was in another county, and therefore not taken. We were accused of prophesying falsely, by saying that four persons who were baptized should receive the Holy Ghost in twenty-four hours, and that Christ should come the second time before this generation passed away. The whole concern was a mob mock trial, contrary to law, justice, judgment or truth.
On the 29th, I went to a Baptist meetinghouse, on Thompson’s Creek, to preach; the house was crowded. As I rose to speak, a Baptist priest, Mr. Browning, arrived at the door on horseback, and stepped in greatly agitated, and told the deacon to forbid my preaching in the house, at the same time commenced a tirade of abuse against the “Mormons,” telling several lies, which I corrected before the people, which increased his rage. As I was forbidden to preach in the house, and had been invited, and travelled many miles to fulfil my appointment, I told the people I would like to preach, and was willing to stand on a woodpile, a fence, a cart, or anyplace they would appoint. A man rose and said he owned the land in front of the meetinghouse, and I might stand and preach on that, and welcome. All the congregation, with the exception of the minister and one deacon, arose and left the house, walked across the street, and formed seats of a worm fence, and gave good attention while I preached for an hour and-a-half, on the principles of the gospel.
When I closed, Mr. Randolph Alexander, who had never heard a “Mormon” elder speak before, said, the people of the present day made him think of a pen of hogs; the keeper would make a trough, and pour into it hot or cold water, dishwater, or anything else, and they would drink it; but let a stranger come along, and pour over a basket of corn on the backside of the pen, and the hogs would be frightened, and run and snort all over the pen. He said it was so with the people; the priests would feed them with any kind of doctrine, no matter how false, the people will swallow it down; but let a stranger come and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which will save the people, as Mr. Woodruff has done, and the people are afraid of him.
Mr. Alexander invited me home, bought a Book of Mormon, and was soon baptized, and several others followed his example.
July 14.–I wrote a letter to Oliver Cowdery, and sent him a list of subscribers for the Messenger and Advocate, and a detail of my mission in the South. –18.–I rode in company with A. [Abraham] O. Smoot to a ferry on the Tennessee River. The ferryman was absent. We were offered the use of the boat, and ferried ourselves; but not being much used to the business, and losing one oar in the river, and having to row with a broken oar, we landed a great distance below the usual place, with a high circulation of blood and blistered hands; but our horses leaped the bank, and we went on our way to the Sandy, which we swam, and spent the night at Thomas Frazer’s. –30.–We preached at Mr. David Crider’s, also on Sunday the 31st, where we were threatened by a mob. I baptized Mr. Crider amid the scoffs of the rabble, who went in the night and poisoned both of our horses; the one which I rode, belonging to Brother Samuel West, died in two days afterwards; Brother Smoot’s recovered; the swine that eat of the horse flesh also died.
August 11.–I met with D. [David] W. Patten and wife; he and Brother [Warren] Parrish had been driven out of Benton into Henry County, and Elder Parrish had left for Kirtland. –29.–We were visited by Elders T. [Thomas] B. Marsh and E. [Elisha] H. Groves, from Caldwell County, Missouri.
September 2.–We held a conference at Damon’s Creek, Callaway County, Kentucky; several branches were represented, containing 119 members. Johnson F. Lane, Benjamin L. Clapp, and Randolph Alexander, were ordained elders, and Lindsey Bradey a priest, by D. [David] W. Patten, who baptized five at the close of the conference.
I was released from my labors in the South, and counselled to go to Kirtland and receive my endowments, as was also A. [Abraham] O. Smoot.
September 19.–Elders [Thomas B.] Marsh and D. [David] W. Patten and wife, and E. [Elisha] H. Groves, started for Far West. I organized the first company of Saints who emigrated from the Southern States, which numbered twenty-two souls. I appointed Elder Boydston president of the company, and counselled them to be united, and to remember their prayers night and day before the Lord. –20.–The camp started. I spent a few days visiting the branches; baptized and confirmed eight, and obtained thirty subscribers for the Messenger and Advocate.
October 20.–In company with A. [Abraham] O. Smoot and Jesse Turpin, I started for Kirtland; this was the first time I had ever travelled on a steamboat. We left the steamer at Louisville, on the 28th, and spent nineteen days visiting Elder Smoot’s relations, and preaching among the people; we visited the Big Bone Lick. We arrived in Cincinnatti [Cincinnati], November 17th, where we saw thirteen persons dead and wounded, taken from the steamer Flora, which had burst her pipes while running a race; arrived in Kirtland on the 25th, and had the happy privilege of meeting the Prophet Joseph [Smith, Jr.], and many elders with whom I was acquainted in the camp of Zion. –29.–I heard Joseph [Smith, Jr.] preach in the temple. In the afternoon I was called to speak, and read the 56th chapter of Isaiah, and made some remarks, and gave an account of my mission in the South; Elder Smoot also addressed the Saints.
I was counselled by the Presidency to attend the school in the temple, taught by Professor Haws. I studied the Latin language and English grammar, and boarded with Brother Ira Bond.
I attended meetings with the seventies and other quorums, during the winter of 1836-7, and received much valuable instruction.
December 20, 1836.–I was present at the organization of the Third Quorum of the Seventies; there were twenty-seven ordained.
January 3, 1837.–I was set apart to be a member of the First Quorum of Seventies. –25.–At early candlelight, a cloud began to arise in the northeast, and reached to the northwest, having the appearance of fire, and it soon spread over the whole horizon. The reflection of the clouds upon the earth, which was covered with snow, had a blood-red appearance. It commenced at about 6 o’clock, and lasted till past 10 p.m. –29.–Presidents Joseph Smith [Jr.], and O. [Oliver] Cowdery addressed the Saints in the temple. Joseph blessed the people in the name of the Lord, and said, if we would be faithful, we should arise above our embarrassments, and be delivered from the hands of our enemies. –30.–I wrote an article on faith which was published in the Messenger and Advocate.
February 19.–I attended meeting at the temple. President Joseph Smith [Jr.] had been absent on business for the Church, but not half as long as Moses was in the mount away from Israel; yet many of the people in Kirtland, if they did not make a calf to worship, as did the Israelites, [apostasy] turned their hearts away from the Lord, and from his servant Joseph, and had engaged in speculation, and given way to false spirits, until they were darkened in their minds; and many were opposed to Joseph Smith, and some wished to appoint David Whitmer to lead the Church in his stead. In the midst of this cloud of dark spirits, Joseph returned to Kirtland, and this morning arose in the stand. He appeared much depressed; but soon the Spirit of God rested upon him, and he addressed the assembly in great plainness for about three hours, and put his enemies to silence. When he arose he said, “I am still the President, Prophet, Seer, Revelator and Leader of the Church of Jesus Christ. God, and not man, has appointed and placed me in this position, and no man or set of men have power to remove me, or appoint another in my stead; and those who undertake this, if they do not speedily repent, will burn their fingers and go to hell.” He reproved the people sharply for their sins, darkness and unbelief. The power of God rested upon him, and bore testimony that his sayings were true.
March 23rd  was spent in the temple by the Saints in Kirtland, in fasting and prayer. Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sen., presided. The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon the people. A contribution was taken up for the poor.
April 4.–I received my washings and anointings in the house of the Lord. I spent the whole night in the temple, with others of the seventies, in prayer and fasting; the Spirit of the Lord rested upon us. After twenty-four hours I partook of food. –6.–The Presidency of the Church, the Twelve Apostles, and other quorums, met in solemn assembly, and sealed upon our heads our washings, anointings and blessings, with a loud shout of hosannah to God and the Lamb; the Spirit of the Lord rested upon us. After spending three hours in the upper room, the quorums repaired to the lower court; the vails were lowered, and the ordinance of washing of feet was administered. Elder H. [Heber] C. Kimball washed my feet, and pronounced blessings upon me. After this ordinance, the vails of the temple were rolled up, and President Joseph Smith [Jr.,] addressed the elders for three hours, clothed with the Spirit and power of God. He unbosomed his feelings in the house of his friends, and gave much instruction. He urged upon us the absolute necessity of giving strict heed to his teachings and counsel, and the revelations of the Lord to the Church, and be wise in all things, that Zion and her stakes may be redeemed and established, no more to be thrown down. He said, that the kings of the earth would yet come to behold the glory of Zion, and that great and glorious blessings would be bestowed upon the Saints in the last days. Hyrum Smith bore testimony, and was followed by Oliver Cowdery, who exhorted the elders to keep within the bounds of their knowledge, and let the mysteries of the kingdom alone, for the Gentiles had not a knowledge even of the first principles of the gospel. He said, it is far better to preach what the people would call the small things of the kingdom, than to enter into the visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel and John. The Twelve broke bread, which was distributed to the multitude, who eat and were filled; thanks were returned, and the meeting closed at the setting of the sun.
The house was again filled at candlelight. President [Joseph] Smith [Jr.] requested the elders to speak their feelings freely, and sing, exhort and pray, as the Spirit should give utterance. The meeting continued during the whole night; many of the gifts were poured out upon the people; at break of day we were dismissed.
I also spent the night of the 7th in the temple, with several of the elders, in prayer and praise before the Lord; the Holy Ghost rested upon us, and the spirit of prophecy was given, and many things were shown by the Holy Spirit.
April 9.–President [Joseph] Smith [Jr.] spoke in the afternoon, and said in the name of the Lord, that the judgments of God would rest upon those men who had professed to be his friends, and friends of humanity, and in building up Kirtland, a stake of Zion, but had turned traitors to him, and the interests of the kingdom of God, and had given power into the hands of our enemies against us; they had oppressed the poor Saints, and had brought distress upon them, and had become covenant-breakers, for which they will feel the wrath of God.
April 13, 1837.–I married Phebe W. Carter, daughter of Ezra and Sarah Carter, of Scarborough, Maine. The ceremony was performed at the house of President Joseph Smith, [Jr.,] by Fred. [Frederick] G. Williams, Esq. The Prophet Joseph [Smith, Jr.,] appointed to marry us, but his life was sought by a mob, and he had to flee. –15.–I received my patriarchal blessing under the hands of the Patriarch, Joseph Smith, Sen.; my wife having received her patriarchal blessing previously.
May 5.–While laboring for Joseph Young, Kirtland was visited with a sudden storm of wind and rain, a current passed south of the temple in the form of a whirlwind or tornado, which destroyed and injured several buildings, it crushed one of Joseph Young’s buildings, and removed the one we were in some ten feet, but no person was injured.
I felt impressed to go out upon a mission; the Spirit was upon me, and led me to go to Fox Islands; it was a country I had never visited. I named my feelings upon the subject to Elders [Heber C.] Kimball, [Sidney] Rigdon and others; they encouraged me to go. Elder Kimball blessed me, and said in the name of the Lord, I should be blessed and prospered on my mission, and do a good work. I proposed to Jonathan H. Hale to accompany me, which he did.
May 31.–I left my wife and friends in Kirtland, and walked to Fairport with Brother Hale; we were joined by Milton Holmes, and took the steamer Sandusky and arrived in Buffalo, June 1st, and Syracuse on the 4th; walked thirty-six miles to Richmond, Oswego County, New York, and called upon my two brothers, Azmon and Thomson [Thompson], whom I had not seen for several years. We visited the churches as far as Sackett’s Harbor, called upon Archibald Patten, and delivered to him some letters from Warren Parrish, in which were enclosed many one hundred dollar bills, which he had taken from the Kirtland Bank.
We crossed Lake Ontario, visited Upper Canada, and attended a conference, May 10th, with Elders John E. Page, and James Blakesly, in the township of Bastard, Leeds County. There were eight branches represented, containing three hundred members, thirteen elders, five priests, eight teachers and six deacons. Elder William Draper and myself ordained seven elders, nine priests, eleven teachers, and five deacons: five were baptized by Elder Page at the close of the conference.
A woman was possessed of the devil and greatly afflicted, much of the time was dumb; four of us laid hands upon her, and cast the devil out in the name of Jesus Christ, and she was made whole, and gave thanks unto God, and went on her way rejoicing.
We visited several other branches and preached the word of God, and several of the sick were healed.
We returned to Kingston, took steamer for Oswego, and canal for Albany; Brothers John Goodson, Isaac Russel and John Snider accompanied us from Canada, and left us at Schenectady, to join Elders Kimball, Hyde and Richards at New York, to go to England.
We walked from Albany to Farmington, Connecticut; attended a conference of the Saints in Canaan; arrived at my father’s house July 6th. This was the first time I had seen my father or relatives in Connecticut since I joined the Church; they received me kindly. On the 10th, I preached in the city hall in Colinsville, and a mob gathered and attempted to break up the meeting, with fife and drum, holloaing and yelling; they were urged on by a Presbyterian priest. At the close of the meeting the priest came to me with his rabble, and asked many questions; he said I had no right to my opinion, and no man had a right to preach the gospel unless he had a collegiate education. I told him I would admit that point, when he would tell me at what college Jesus Christ and his Apostles obtained their education: the priest and rabble then left.
–12.–I preached in a schoolhouse in West Avon to an attentive congregation; after meeting I baptized my uncle, Ozem Woodruff, his wife and son, John, in fulfillment of a dream which I had at ten years of age.
I visited most of my relatives in Connecticut, and preached the gospel to them. –16.–I preached at Adna Hart’s in Avon, where I was met by my stepmother and sister, also by my wife, who had travelled alone from Kirtland, and was on her way to visit her father in Maine.
–19.–Elder Hale went to New Rowley, Massachusetts, to visit his friends. I had been solicited to preach to the citizens of Farmington by many prominent men, but every room which was offered me, including the town hall, was closed against me by the Reverend Noah Porter, pastor of the Presbyterian church, until the Methodist church was offered me, which he had not influence to close. Two hours after I gave out the appointment, the house was filled, and I preached to a very attentive congregation, including my father and his household, for an hour and a half, upon the first principles of the gospel; I gave liberty to the assembly to ask any questions, or find any fault with what I had said, but I met with no opposition.
–20.–I left my father’s house, and, with my wife, rode by stage to Hartford.
–21.–Not having money to pay the fare for us both, I paid her fare in the stage to New Rowley, Massachusetts, and I walked through a hot, sultry day fifteen hours, averaging three and a half miles per hour, making fifty-two miles.
–22.–I walked forty-eight miles.
–23.–I walked thirty-six miles, and arrived at Elder Nathaniel Holme’s, in New Rowley, at two o’clock, p.m., making one hundred thirty-six miles in a little over two days and a half. I met with my wife and Elder Milton Holmes, at his father’s house: I spent several days in preaching to the Saints in that region.
August 1.–We left New Rowley, and was joined by Elder [Jonathan] Hale, who accompanied us to Saco, Maine.
–7.–I accompanied my wife to her father’s in Scarborough, Maine. We were kindly received: it was the first time I had seen any of her relations. We found Mother Carter very sick. I spent several days visiting the Saints in that region.
–10.–I accompanied Ezra and Fabien Carter, my brothers-in-law, on a fishing excursion; we caught with hooks two hundred fifty codfish, haddock, and hake, and saw four whales; it being the first time I had ever seen that class of fish that swallowed Jonah.
–18.–With Elder Hale, I started to fill my mission on Fox Islands; we walked to Portland, and spent the night at Mr. Samuel Hale’s.
–19.–We took the steamer Bangor eighty-five miles to Owl’s Head, where we arrived at sunset, without means to prosecute our journey further. We retired to a high hill, and bowed before the Lord, and prayed that he would open our way; the Spirit of the Lord rested upon us, and testified unto us that our prayers would be answered. As we arose from our knees, a sloop came into the harbor; we went to the captain, and enquired where he was going; he replied, through the channel of Vinal Haven; he took us on board and landed us on North Fox Islands, a 2 a.m. on the 20th. We wandered in the dark about an hour, rambling over rocks and bushes, found the house of Mr. Nathaniel Dyer, and were entertained. It being Sunday morning, Mr. Benjamin Kent piloted us to the Baptist meetinghouse, occupied by Elder Gideon J. Newton, pastor of the only religious denomination upon the island. At the door, I sent for the deacon, and told him I wished him to inform the minister that we were servants of God, and wished to deliver a message to that people. The minister sent word for us to come into the pulpit; accordingly, with valise in hand, we walked up into the pulpit, and took a seat on each side of him. When he closed his discourse, he asked me what hour we would like to speak; I told him at five; he gave out our appointment, and invited us to his house. I asked him how many schoolhouses were on the island; he said four, and gave me their names. I asked him if they were free for anyone to preach in; he answered in the affirmative. I took out my Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, and laid them all upon his stand; he promised to read them.
The hour of meeting arrived, and I preached to a full house upon the first principles of the gospel, and bore testimony that the Lord had raised up a prophet, and had commenced to establish his Church and kingdom again upon the earth, in fulfillment of his word, as spoken through the ancient prophets and apostles. This was the first discourse ever delivered by any Latter-day Saint upon this chain of islands; Elder Hale bore testimony. I gave out appointments for preaching in the four schoolhouses. The people came out in masses to investigate the principles which we taught. In fourteen days we preached nineteen discourses. Captain Justice Ames and wife were baptized by Elder Hale. Elder Newton, the Baptist minister, with his family attended twelve of our meetings, read the books, and was convinced by the Spirit of the Lord that our doctrine was true, and he had a hard struggle in his mind to know which to do, receive it or reject it; he finally resolved to reject it, and commenced preaching against us. He sent for Mr. Douglass, Methodist minister, on the south island, to come and help him; he had been long at variance with Mr. Douglass, but they became very friendly and united in a war against us. We continued preaching daily, until we baptized most of the members of Mr. Newton’s church, and those who owned the meetinghouse.
I followed Mr. Douglas to his own island, and commenced preaching to his church, and baptized a good share of his members, among whom were several sea captains. Ministers from the mainland were sent for, who came over and tried to put a stop to the work, by preaching and lying about us; but the work continued to roll on. They wished me to work a miracle to convince them that my doctrine was true. I told them they had rejected the truth, and they would see signs, but not unto salvation.
Vinal Haven, which includes both north and south Fox Island, is in Latitude 44¿, long. 69¿10′. The inhabitants are generally healthy and industrious, and hospitable to strangers, the people obtain most of their wealth by fishing, and fit out annually over one hundred licensed vessels, beside many smaller crafts. The north island is nine miles long and two wide; population 800, and contains a post office, a store, a gristmill, four schoolhouses, and a Baptist church. The land is rocky and rough, yet there are farms which produce good wheat, barley, oats, potatoes and grass; the principal timber is fir, spruce, hemlock and birch. The rasp [raspberry] and gooseberry grow in great abundance. Sheep are the principal stock.
South Fox Island is about ten miles long and five wide, and is a mass of rocks, principally granite, formed into shelves, hills, hollows, and cut up into nooks, points and ravines by coves and harbors; population one thousand. There are some small patches under cultivation, at the expense of great labor and toil. Many resident fishermen fish at Newfoundland, and bring them home, and dry them upon flakes; they annually supply the market with a great amount of codfish, mackerel and boxed herring. The latter island contains two stores, three tide sawmills, six schoolhouses, a small branch of the Methodist church and a priest. The timber is pine, fir, spruce, hemlock and birch, also gooseberries, raspberries, whortleberries and upland cranberries; bushes and timber grow out of the crevices of the rocks.
There is a great amount and variety of fish in the waters around these islands, viz.: whale, blackfish, shark, ground shark, pilot fish, horse mackerel, sturgeon, salmon, halibut, cod, pollock, tomcod, hake, haddock, mackerel, shad, bass, alewives [alewife], herring, pohagen, dolphin, whiting, frost fish, flounders, smelt, skate, shrimp, shad, cusk, blue backs, scollop [or scallop], dogfish, muttonfish, lumpfish, squid, five fingers, monkfish, nursefish, sunfish, swordfish, thrasher, cat, scuppog [scup], twotog, eyefish, cunner, ling eels, lobsters, clams, mussels, winkles [periwinkles], porpoises, seals, etc.
September 6.–The harbor was filled with a school of mackerel, which were caught in great numbers by the people standing upon the wharf.
While standing upon the farm of Eleazar Carver on the north island I counted fifty-five islands, many of which were inhabited.
October 2.–I left the island with Elder Hale; Captain Ames took us to Thomastown in a sloop.
–3.–We walked forty-six miles to Bath.
–4.–We attended a Baptist convention, and preached to a large congregation in the evening in Pierce’s Hall; the people listened attentively.
–5.–We walked thirty-six miles to Portland.
–6.–Walked ten miles to Father Carter’s in Scarborough, where I found my wife and friends well.
–9.–I parted with Elder Hale, who returned to Kirtland. I continued preaching through various towns on the mainland until November 2, when I again returned to Fox Islands, accompanied by my wife.
–15.–I visited the Isle of Holt, twelve miles east, and preached to an attentive congregation, leaving them the Book of Mormon, which they promised to read. I returned on the 16th.
I continued my labors during the winter of 1837-8, and nearly every person had attended my meetings, and taken sides for or against. Our enemies made attempts to break up our meetings.
January 15, 1838.–A company of sailors belonging to the United States revenue cutter, brought on shore a swivel and joined the mob, parading near the house where I was preaching, and discharged it several times, accompanied with small arms, with the intention of breaking up the meeting. Some of the mob gathered around to see what effect this would have. I warned them in the name of the Lord, and proclaimed the judgments of God that awaited the wicked, and shook my garments in the presence of the people, and told them I was clear of their blood; but they only heard my voice intermingled with the roar of cannon and musketry. Before I closed speaking, the sailors went back on board the revenue cutter. At the close of the meeting I baptized two, also one next day, and while baptizing, the mob again commenced firing guns. The Baptists and Methodists got up the mob. Mr. Douglas, the Methodist priest, when argument failed him applied to all the magistrates for warrants against me; they refused to grant them as he had no cause of complaint.
February 13.–I crossed in the mailboat to Hampden and ordained James Townsend. We walked together through deep snows and visited and preached in the towns of Searsmont, Belfast, Northport, Frankfort, Hampden, and twice in the city hall in Bangor, to large assemblies, and returned to Fox Islands via Casteem and the Isle of Holt. Arrived in Vinal Haven March 8. Elder Townsend returned home.
March 22.–I accompanied Brother Stirrat, at low tide, on to a bar some forty rods from shore, to dig some clams. We were soon joined by Mrs. Woodruff and Sister Stone, who had a curiosity to see how clams were dug. The ground for about twelve rods nearer shore was several feet lower than the point we were on, but we were so busily engaged we did not observe the flowing tide until we were surrounded by water, and having no boat, our only alternative was to wade ashore and carry the women, which we safely accomplished amid the reflection that time and tide waited for no man.
April 4.–Mr. Kent, the postmaster, showed me a letter containing two sheets of foolscap, signed by Warren Parrish and several of the Twelve, who had apostatized and been cut off from the Church. The communication was full of slander and falsehoods against Joseph Smith [Jr.] and all that stood by him. It was sent with the intention of breaking up the work upon these islands.
11.–I was visited by Elders Townsend and Milton Holmes, who attended conferences with me upon both islands, and bore their testimony to the people, but the spirit of opposition increased to a great height. I was warned by the Spirit of the Lord to leave for a season and take a western mission. After visiting the Saints from house to house, and praying with and encouraging them, I left on the 28th and went to the mainland with Elders Townsend and Holmes. Mrs. Woodruff returned to her father’s. We walked to Scarborough. I left May 7th, and walked to Bradford, where I left Elder Holmes, and proceeded to Boston.
May 11.–I gave out an appointment to preach at Sister Vose’s room, and I went to Cambridgeport to visit Elder A. P. Rockwood, who had been imprisoned in jail on pretense of debt, but in reality out of religious persecution. The jailor locked me in until ten p.m.; but while it disappointed a congregation of people, it gave me a happy visit with Elder Rockwood, conversing upon the work of God. On my return to Boston the people were waiting to hear me; I spoke to them a short time.
May 14.–I left Boston, and walked some thirty miles to Holliston; stayed at Deacon Haven’s, and preached. I walked to Providence, Rhode Island, from thence took steamer to New York, and arrived on the 18th. Met and attended meetings with Brother O. [Orson] Pratt until the 27th, when I went up the North River to Newburgh, and preached in several towns in New York and New Jersey, and walked across the country to Farmington, Connecticut, and arrived at my father’s June 11, 1838.
I commenced preaching at my father’s house. July 1st, I baptized six persons in Farmington River, including my father, stepmother and my only sister, Eunice; also Cousin Seth Woodruff, Aunt Anna Cossett and Dwight Webster, a Methodist class leader, who was boarding at my father’s.
When the Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sen., gave me my blessing, he said I should bring my father’s household into the kingdom of God, which words were fulfilled this day.
I confirmed those baptized, and organized this small branch of the Church, consisting of nine members, eight of whom were relatives. I ordained Dwight Webster a priest, and administered the sacrament.
July 3.–I started for the state of Maine, and arrived at Father Carter’s, in Scarborough, on the 6th.
–14.–My wife was delivered of a daughter at her father’s house; we named her Sarah Emma.
22.–I wrote to Thomas B. Marsh, an account of my labors upon Fox Islands and the eastern country.
–30.–I left Scarborough and returned to the islands. I preached several times to large congregations in the Methodist meetinghouse, in East Thomastown, and in the town hall in Camden, before crossing to the islands, where I arrived August 7th.
August 9 .–I received a letter from Thomas B. Marsh, informing me of my appointment to fill the place, in the Quorum of the Twelve, of one who had fallen, and I was requested to come to Far West as soon as possible, to prepare for a mission to England in the spring. I immediately visited all the Saints upon both islands, and earnestly exhorted them to sell their property and prepare to accompany me to Missouri. Several immediately sold, but many were poor. Brother Nathaniel Thomas said he would furnish means to help off all the poor Saints who desired to go, and for this purpose went with me to the mainland on the 13th, and I assisted him in purchasing two thousand dollars worth of horses, harness, wagons and tents for the company. He paid about $1500 of the expenses himself, $1000 of which went to furnish conveyance for the poor. After purchasing the outfit for the company, I urged the importance of their starting as soon as possible, not later than the 1st of September.
August 19.–I left the town of Camden, where we had prepared our outfit, and returned to Scarborough to prepare my family for the journey, expecting to see the company in a few days; but here I remained in great suspense until October 1st, when Elder Townsend went to meet the company. They arrived in Scarborough on the 3rd, with their wagon covers flying.
The company stopped at the house of Sister Sarah B. Foss. We nailed down the covers and painted them, which made them waterproof.
–4 [4 Sep 1838].–We started upon our journey. My child was in the first stages of the whooping cough. Our company consisted of fifty-three persons; we had ten wagons, with a pair of horses to each. We had before us, at this late period, a gloomy land journey of two thousand miles, from Maine to Missouri. We continued to travel through rain, mud, cold, frost and snow, until we arrived in Rochester, Sangamon County, Illinois, December 19th, where I stopped and settled my family and company for the winter, being unable to proceed further. My wife had passed through a severe course of the brain fever while upon the journey; her sufferings had been very great. The spirit had left her body twice to all human appearance, and only been called back through the prayer of faith and the power of God. Our child had also been very sick, and I had become so thoroughly chilled through my whole system, in crossing the bleak prairies, that it was two months after I stopped, before I got sufficiently warmed to feel natural.
Brother Thomas buried one child, and nearly all the company had been sick through exposure; some of them had stopped by the way.
I spent the winter laboring with my hands for the support of my family.
March 8, 1839.–I attended a conference at Springfield, Illinois.
–13.–I took my family and started for Quincy, where I arrived on the 16th. I dined with Emma Smith, at Judge Cleveland’s. I then went on to the bank of the river near Quincy, and saw a great many of the Saints, old and young, lying in the mud and water, in a rainstorm, without tent or covering, which suffering was caused by the unhallowed persecution of the state of Missouri. The sight filled my eyes with tears, while my heart was made glad at the cheerfulness of the Saints in the midst of their affliction.
–17 (Sunday).–I had an interview with President Brigham Young and John Taylor. We held a meeting with the Saints; $50 and a number of teams were raised to bring out the remainder of the poor from Missouri. President Young counselled the Twelve to locate their families for the time being in Quincy. I returned to Rochester for my effects. While at Springfield, I collected $70 for the relief of the Saints in Quincy, which I sent to them. I returned to Quincy on the 8th of April, where I left my family, and went to Far West with the Twelve, and attended the conference on the temple block on the 26th [Apr 1839], where I was ordained one of the Twelve Apostles, on the cornerstone of the temple, under the hands of the Twelve, Elder Brigham Young being mouth. Elder Geo. [George] A. Smith was also ordained at the same time. We returned to Quincy on the 2nd day of May.
On the 3rd, in company with five of the Twelve, I went to Judge Cleveland’s, and had a happy interview with President Joseph Smith, [Jr.,] who had just escaped out of the hands of his persecutors in Missouri; it was the first time I had seen him for more than two years, and it was a happy meeting. I attended the conference and meetings with the Saints in Quincy, until the 15th, when I moved my family to Montrose, and occupied a room in the barracks with President Young and family. I spent my time in attending the meetings, councils and conferences. I wrote in my journal the teachings, sayings and prophecies of Joseph from time to time, as I had opportunity.
July 22.–I was with President Joseph Smith [Jr.] and his council and the Twelve; it was a day of God’s power with the Prophet. He healed many who were sick nigh unto death, among whom were Elijah Fordham and Joseph B. Nobles [Noble]; even the wicked rabble followed to see the sick healed. As Joseph was about to cross the river, a man came to him and asked him if he would go about three miles and heal two of his small children, who were twins, about three months old, and were sick nigh unto death. He was a man of the world, he had never heard a sermon preached by a Latter-day Saint. Joseph said he could not go, but he would send a man. After hesitating a moment, he turned to me and said, “You go with this man and heal his children,” at the same time giving me a red silk handkerchief, and said, “After you lay hands upon them, wipe their faces with it, and they shall be healed; and as long as you will keep that handkerchief, it shall ever remain as a league between you and me.” I went and did as I was commanded, and the children were healed.
On the 25th, I was attacked with chills and fever. I had a chill every other day, and was very sick.
August 8 .–I laid my hands upon my wife and children, blessed them, committed them into the hands of God, and started upon my English mission, leaving my family sick, and with not more than four days’ provisions. Brother Brigham Young rowed me across the Mississippi in a boat; I was sick and feeble. When I landed, I laid down upon the bank of the river on a side of sole leather. The Prophet Joseph [Smith, Jr.] came along and looked at me, and said, “You are starting on your mission.” I said,”Yes, but I look like a poor instrument for a missionary; I look more fit for a hospital or dissecting room than a mission.” He replied, “What do you say that for? Go ahead in the name of the Lord, and you shall be healed and blessed on your mission.” I thanked him. A brother came along with a wagon, carried me a few miles on my road. I started without purse or scrip, and passed by Parley P. Pratt, who was hewing logs for a house; he was barefooted, bareheaded, without coat or vest on. He said, “I have no money, but I have an empty purse; I will give you that.” I went a few rods, and found Elder H. [Heber] C. Kimball building a log cabin. He said, “I have one dollar, I will give you that to put in your purse.” He blessed me, and I went my way, accompanied by Elder John Taylor. I had a shake of the ague every other day, and lay on the bottom of the wagon while I travelled.
We stayed with Samuel H. and Don Carlos Smith at Macomb, and held a meeting with the Saints, who contributed $9 to our necessities, and George Miller gave us a horse. Father Coltrin was going east; he took us into his wagon to help us along. We spent five days in Springfield, where Elder Taylor printed fifteen hundred copies of a pamphlet upon the Missouri persecution. We sold our horse, and left on the 21st, and continued our journey. We spent the night of the 24th with Dr. Modisett, of Terrehaute.
On the 28th, while travelling, Elder Taylor fell to the ground as though he had been knocked down. We administered to him, and he revived. On the following day he fell again, and fainted several times; it seemed as though the destroyer would take his life. We travelled with him four days after he was taken sick. His sickness proved to be bilious fever. We stopped with him two days at a German tavern, in Germantown, Wayne County, Indiana, with a kind family with whom he was acquainted. Father Coltrin would stay no longer. I proposed to remain with Brother Taylor, but as I was sick with fever and ague, and not able to take care of myself, Brother Taylor advised me to continue my journey with Father Coltrin, saying, “It is easier to take care of one sick man than two.” I committed him into the hands of God, and the family promised to do all in their power to make him comfortable. I parted from him with a heavy heart.
September 2.–I continued my journey with Father Coltrin to Cleveland, Ohio. I there took steamer on the 10th for Buffalo; had a severe gale, and did not reach Buffalo until the 12th. I travelled to Albany on a canal boat; had the ague daily, was very sick; had no companions except sectarian priests, who were daily lying about the “Mormons.” I took stage at Albany for Farmington, Connecticut, on the night of the 19th, and rode all night and the following day; suffered severely with fever and ague. I arrived at my father’s house in Farmington on the 21st, quite sick. I found my father and family well.
On the 27th [of] September, 1839, my maternal grandmother, Anna Thompson, died, aged 84; I was too sick to attend her funeral. It is a singular incident that my grandfather, Lot Thompson, and Anna Thompson his wife, Samuel Thompson and Mercy Thompson, all of one family, died in their 84th year.
On the 4th [of] October, Adner Hart, brother to my stepmother, died, aged 43. He requested me to preach his funeral sermon. I had been sick at my father’s house, with the ague, for fifteen days, attended with a severe cough, and the hour appointed for the funeral was the time for my ague, yet I attended the funeral and preached, and I had no more ague for many days. I left on the 7th, and visited New York, Long Island, and New Jersey, in very poor health.
November 1.–I assisted Elders Clark, Wright and Mulliner, to set sail for England. Elder John Taylor had recovered from his sickness, and arrived in New York on the 13th [of] December. December 19.–In company with Elders John Taylor and Theodore Turley, I went on board the packet-ship Oxford, and sailed for Liverpool, where I landed January 11, 1840, in good health and spirits. When I left my father, he gave me some money to assist in paying my passage; also gave me five dollars, which he requested me to keep until I arrived in Liverpool, saying, I would there need it. This I found to be true after landing; that money was all we had to pay our expenses to Preston, and we had twopence left.
We arrived in Preston on the 13th. Had a happy interview with Brother Willard Richards; held a council, and agreed that Elder Taylor go to Liverpool, [Elder] Turley to Birmingham, and I to Staffordshire Potteries.
January 18.–I arrived in Manchester; met Elder William Clayton, who presided over that branch, numbering one hundred sixty-four members. I was immediately called upon to visit a woman possessed with the devil. She was raging and foaming, and had to be held by four men. The more we rebuked the devil, the worse she raged. We continued to pray and administer, until we cast the devil out. She arose and gave thanks to the Lord. The devil then entered into a young child, and we cast him out. I preached several times, and laid hands on twenty-eight persons. I went to Burslem on the 21st, and met with Elder Alfred Cordon, President of the Burslem Branch, which numbered sixty-six. I commenced preaching in the Staffordshire Potteries. Elder Turley left for Birmingham on the 29th. I remained in the Potteries some forty days, preaching, baptizing and confirming, and blessing children.
March 1.–As I met in the evening with a large assembly in Hanley, the Lord revealed unto me that it would be the last meeting that I would hold with the Saints in the Potteries for many days. I told the people it was the last meeting I should hold with them for a season; it created much excitement. I had appointments out for a week, which I got Brother Cordon to fill. I went before the Lord in prayer, and asked him where I should go; the Spirit said, “Go to the South.” According to the directions of the Spirit, on the 3rd I went to Herefordshire, and called upon John Benbow, at Castlefroom. I found a people prepared for the gospel. I preached twice at his house. On the 6th, I baptized six persons, including John Benbow and wife. I here found a society called “United Brethren,” numbering about six hundred members, and about fifty preachers; Thomas Kington was the presiding elder. They came from all quarters to hear me preach, and believed my testimony, and I preached and baptized daily. The ministers of the Church of England sent three church clerks to see what I was doing, and I baptized them. One constable came to arrest me for preaching, and I baptized him. In about thirty days I baptized one hundred sixty, forty-eight of whom were preachers of the “United Brethren,” including their presiding elder, Thomas Kington.
I established forty-two preaching places, licensed according to law.
On the 9th [of] April, I had an appointment at Haw Cross. As I was going into the meeting, letters were put into my hands from Elder Brigham Young and others, informing me of his arrival with five of the Twelve, and requesting me to come to Preston, and attend a general conference. A vast assembly had gathered to attend my meeting; the house, yard and street were crowded; a mob had also gathered. I preached to the people; five came forward to be baptized. The mob surrounded the pool, armed with stones. I dismissed the meeting and went away, but the congregation and mob remained on the ground till midnight; and as there was no prospect of their dispersing, and the candidates were anxious to be baptized, I went down into the water and baptized five, in the midst of a shower of stones. The water was all in a foam for a rod around me. None that I baptized were hit, and I was only hit twice, once on my hip and once on my head; the blow on my head raised a large bump, which went away while I was confirming. Subsequently I baptized many of the mob.
I left next morning for Preston, and attended the conference with the Twelve, and returned to Herefordshire, accompanied by Elder Brigham Young, on the 22nd [of] April, and was soon joined by Elder Willard Richards. Elder Young remained twenty-seven days, preaching, baptizing, confirming and counseling. Numbers were added daily to the Church. He then returned to Manchester.
I spent about seven months in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. We baptized over eighteen hundred, including all of the “United Brethren” save one. We baptized over two hundred preachers of various denominations in that part of the vineyard. A synod of church ministers became so alarmed for their flocks in that part of the vineyard, they petitioned parliament to adopt measures to stop our preaching. They received for an answer, that if they were as well acquainted with the Bible as their hunting grounds, and were as much interested in the welfare of the souls of men, as the chasing of the stags and foxes, they would not lose so many of their congregations.
August 18.–I visited London in company with Elders H. [Heber] C. Kimball and G. [George] A. Smith. I labored with them in establishing a church, spending over five months in that populous city.
We visited nearly every part of the city, and all the notable places that we could have access to.
I attended all the general conferences in England, and set sail with my brethren of the Twelve on the ship Rochester, April 20, 1841. Arrived in New York May 20th. . . . . CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS
(Written at Great Salt Lake City, February 1858.)
Varied and diverse are the lives and fortunes of men; while the paths of some are strewn with flowers and ease from the cradle to the grave, with naught to disturb their peace, others are marked victims of varied misfortunes, accidents and dangers. The last-named class is the one in whose ranks I have stood through my infancy, childhood, youth and manhood, up to the present time, so much so, that it has seemed as though some invisible power or fate was watching my footsteps, in order to find some opportunity to take my life from the earth. I can only attribute the continuation of my life to the present time to a merciful God, whose hand has been stretched out, and rescued me from death in the midst of the many dangers and hairbreadth escapes I have passed through, some of which I will here mention.
When three years of age, I fell into a caldron of boiling water, was instantly caught out, but was so badly scalded, that it was nine months before I was considered out of danger.
At five years of age, I fell from the great beam of a barn, striking my face upon the floor, which came near breaking my neck.
Three months afterwards, I broke one of my arms, by falling down stairs. I soon after broke my other arm, by falling out of a high stoop upon a pile of timber.
When six years of age, I came near being killed by a surly bull. My father and I were feeding pumpkins to the cattle, a surly bull drove my cow away from the one she was eating. I took the pumpkin he had left, upon which he pitched at me. My father told me to throw down the pumpkin and run. I ran down a steep hill, and took the pumpkin with me, being determined that the cow should have her rights. The bull pursued. As he was about to overtake me, I stepped into a posthole and fell; the bull leaped over me, after the pumpkin, and tore it to pieces with his horns, and would have served me in the same way, had I not fallen.
During the same year, I went into my father’s sawmill, with several others. I got upon the head-block to take a ride, while the carriage was running back, not anticipating any danger; my leg was caught between the head-block and the fender-post, and broke both bones of my leg below the knee. I was taken to the house, and lay nine hours before my bones were set, suffering severe pain; but being young, my bones soon knit together, and I was upon my feet again. During my confinement by this lameness, my brother Thompson was also confined in the same room with the typhus fever.
When seven years of age, I was riding on the top of a load of hay, which my uncle, Ozan Woodruff, was driving to the barn; he turned the load over upon me; I was nearly suffocated for the want of air, before the hay was removed.
At eight years old, I was riding in a one-horse wagon with several others, the horse took fright, ran down a steep hill, and turned the wagon over upon us; but again, while in the midst of danger, my life was preserved; none of us were seriously injured.
When nine years old, I climbed into an elm tree to obtain bark. I stepped upon a dry limb, which broke, and I fell about fifteen feet upon my back, which beat the breath out of my body. A cousin ran and told my parents I was dead. Before they arrived at the spot, I came to my senses, and met them.
When twelve years of age, I was drowned in Farmington River, and sunk in thirty feet of water, and after carrying one person to the bottom with me, I was miraculously saved by a young man named Bacon diving to the bottom, and carrying with him a large stone, to hold him down until he obtained my body, not expecting to save me alive. I suffered much in being restored to life.
At thirteen years of age, while passing through Farmington meadows, in the depth of winter, the roads were drifted with snow; and in an exceedingly blustering day, I became so chilled and overcome with cold, that I could not travel. I crawled into the hollow of a large apple tree. A man in the distance seeing me go in, hastened to my rescue, realizing my danger more fully than I did. When he arrived at the spot, I had fallen asleep, and was nearly insensible; he had much difficulty in arousing me to a sense of my situation. He procured means to carry me to my father’s house, and through a kind Providence, my life was again preserved.
At fourteen years of age, I split my left instep open with an ax, which went nearly through my foot; it was nine months getting well.
At fifteen years of age, I was bitten in my left hand by a mad dog in the last stage of hydrophobia. He dented my hand with his teeth, but did not draw blood, and I was again preserved, through the mercies of God, from an awful death.
At the age of seventeen, I was riding a very ill-tempered horse that I was not acquainted with; and while going down a very steep rocky hill, the horse taking advantage of the ground, suddenly leaped from the road, and ran down the steep, amid the rocks, at full speed, and commenced kicking up, and attempted to throw me over his head upon the rocks; but I lodged upon the top of his head, grasped hold of each ear as with a death grip, expecting every moment to be dashed to pieces against the rocks. While in this position, sitting astride of his neck, with no bridle to guide him but his ears, he plunged down the hill under full speed, until he ran against a rock, and was dashed to the ground. I went over both his head and the rocks, about one rod, and struck the ground square on my feet, being the only thing visible that saved my life; for, had I struck upon any other part of my body, it must have killed me instantly; as it was, my bones crushed from under me as though they were reeds. It broke my left leg in two places, and put out both my ankles in a shocking manner, and the horse came near rolling over me in his struggles to get up. My uncle, Titus Woodruff, saw me fall, got assistance, and carried me to his house. I lay from 2 p.m. till 10, without medical aid; then my father arrived, bringing Dr. Swift, of Farmington, with him, who set my bones, boxed up my limbs, and carried me in his carriage eight miles that night to my father’s. My sufferings were very great. I had good attention, however, and in eight weeks I was outdoors upon my crutches.
In 1827, while attempting to clear the ice out of a waterwheel, standing upon the wheel with one arm around the shaft, a man hoisted the gate, and let a full head of water upon it. As soon as the water struck the wheel it started, my feet slipped into the wheel, but I immediately plunged head foremost over the rim into about three feet of water, and my weight drew my legs out of the wheel, or I should have been drawn under a shaft and crushed to death.
In 1831, while having charge of the flouring mill in Collinsville, Connecticut, I was standing inside of a breast wheel, 20 feet in diameter, upon one of the arms near the top, clearing out the ice, when a full head of water was let onto it. The wheel immediately started; but I dropped my ax and leaped through it to the bottom, by the shaft and arms, about twenty feet; as I struck the bottom of the wheel, I was rolled out against a ragged stone wall, with only about two feet clearance between it and the wheel. The wheel caught me and rolled me out into the water below, where I found myself without any bones broken, but with some bruises and much fright.
During the winter of 1831, while in New Hartford, Connecticut, I passed through a severe course of lung fever.
In 1833, the day I was baptized, one of my horses, newly sharp shod, kicked my hat off my head, and had he struck two inches lower, would probably have killed me instantly. In ten minutes afterwards, while driving the same team down a hill, on a sleigh without any box, the bottom boards slipped forward under the roller and caught the ground, turned endwise, and fell on the horses’ backs, throwing me between the horses; they ran to the bottom of the hill, dragging me with the lines, head foremost, with the sleigh on top of me, about twenty rods over a smooth snow path; I escaped unharmed, however, in the midst of both dangers.
In 1834, while travelling in Zion’s Camp in Missouri, a rifle was accidentally discharged, and the ball passed through three tents, with about twelve men in each, and lodged in a wagon axletree, while a man was standing behind it, and injured no one. It passed within a few inches of my breast, and many others escaped as narrowly as myself.
A few months afterwards a musket, heavily loaded with buckshot, was accidentally snapped within a few feet of me, with the muzzle pointed at my breast; it had a good flint and was well primed, but it missed fire, and my life was again preserved.
In April 1839, in Rochester, Illinois, I was riding upon the running gears of a wagon without a box, sitting upon the forward axletree, when the bolt, fastening the coupling pole, came out, which left the hind wheels; and my weight on the forward bolster and tongue, turned the coupling pole over on to the horses, turning the stakes upside down, and shut me up fast between the bolster and tongue, but in such a manner that my head and shoulders dragged on the ground; my horses took fright, and ran out into an open prairie, and dragged me in this position for about half a mile. I managed to guide them with my left hand, so as to run them into a corner of a high worm fence, where we landed in a pile together. I was considerably bruised, but escaped without any broken bones.
July 23, 1842.–President Joseph Smith [Jr.], sent me from Nauvoo to St. Louis to procure a stock of paper. I went down upon a steamboat; was six days on the way, during which time I was severely attacked with bilious fever. The day I made my purchase, the fever was so high I was scarcely sensible of what I was doing. As soon as I made my purchase and got my freight on board, I took my berth, and lay there until I arrived at Nauvoo on the 10th of August. I was confined to my bed forty days, and passed through the most severe fit of sickness I ever endured; my life was despaired of by many of my friends. I was administered to by President [Joseph] Smith [Jr.], and the Twelve; my life was preserved by the power of God. I took a relapse twice after I began to recover; once while in council with the Presidency and Twelve, my strength left me, my breath stopped, and I felt as though I was struck with death.
September 12, 1843.–At five o’clock p.m., I left Boston on the express train for Portland. While passing through Chesterwoods, six miles south of Kennebunk, after dark, and while going at full speed, we struck one of the rails which some persons had raised by rolling a log under it, and landed in a pile; three cars were filled with passengers, and their lives were saved by having a long train of freight between the passenger cars and the engine; all of them were mashed to pieces; the engineer was killed, some of the passengers had bones broken; I escaped unhurt.
On the 5th of October, 1846, while with the camp of Israel building up Winter Quarters, on the west side of the Missouri River, (then Indian country) I passed through one of the most painful and serious misfortunes of my life. I took my axe and went two and a half miles on to the bluffs to cut some shingle timber to cover my cabin; I was accompanied by two men. While the third tree was falling, which was an oak, over two feet in diameter, I stepped behind it some ten feet, and also to one side the same distance, where I thought I would be entirely out of danger; but when the tree fell, there being a crook in the body of it, which struck a knoll on the ground, the whole body shot endways back of the stump and bounded, and the butt of the tree struck me on the breast and knocked me several feet into the air against a standing oak, and the falling tree followed me in its bound and caught me against the standing tree, and I came down between them; before reaching the earth, however, I was liberated from them, and struck the ground upon my feet in a badly bruised condition. My left thigh, the whole length of it, and my hip and left arm were much bruised; my breast bone and three ribs on my left side were broken; my lungs, vitals and left side were also bruised in a shocking manner.
After the accident I sat upon a log until Mr. John Garrison went a quarter of a mile to get my horse. Notwithstanding I was so badly hurt, I mounted my horse, and rode two and a half miles over a very rough road, dismounting twice in consequence of miry places, my breast and vitals were so badly torn to pieces, that at each step of the horse the pain went through me like an arrow. I continued on horseback until I arrived at Turkey Creek, on the north side of Winter Quarters. I then became exhausted, and was taken off my horse and carried to my wagon in a chair. I was met in the street by Presidents Brigham Young, H. [Heber] C. Kimball and W. [Willard] Richards and others, who assisted in carrying me to my family. Before laying me upon my bed, the Presidency laid hands upon me, rebuked my suffering and distress in the name of the Lord, and said I should live and not die. I was then laid upon my bed in my wagon, and as the Apostles prophesied upon my head, so it came to pass. I employed no physician on this occasion, but was administered to by the elders of Israel and nursed by my wife. I lay upon my bed unable to move until my breastbone began to knit together, which commenced on the ninth day. I began to walk about in twenty days; in thirty days from the time I was hurt I again commenced to do hard labor.
July 5th, 1848.–While on a mission to the Eastern States, I drove my carriage, containing myself and family into the dooryard of Brother James Williams in Iowa, to camp for the night. I tied my mules to a large oak tree several rods from the carriage. As we were about to lay down in the carriage for the night, I was strongly impressed to go and move my mules from the oak tree, and also to move my carriage. I followed the dictates of the spirit, and removed my mules to a small hickory grove, also moved my carriage several rods, and retired to rest. In a short time a heavy rainstorm came on, which broke the tree near the ground, and laid it prostrate where my carriage had stood. As it was, the top struck the hind end of the carriage; the tree was two feet in diameter. Thus, by obeying the whisperings of the Spirit, myself and family were preserved.
On the 21st day of April, 1856, while assisting to remove an ox that had died from poison and had been skinned, I inoculated my arm with poison and mortification ensued. The poison worked through my system for seven days before it showed itself outwardly. On the 28th my arm began to swell, was in great pain and showed signs of mortification. I showed it to President [Brigham] Young, who advised me to cleanse my stomach immediately, and put on onion poultices, and anything that would draw the poison from my system into my arm, which counsel I immediately put in execution. The 29th was another trying day to my life; the poison had so thoroughly penetrated my whole system, that my strength left me; I could not stand, I was led to my bed, my bowels and stomach ceased to act, my speech was like that of a drunken man. President [Brigham] Young called, in company with Dr. Sprague, and laid hands upon me, and rebuked the disease and the power of the destroyer which had seized my body, and promised me in the name of the Lord, that I should not die but live to finish my work which was appointed me upon the earth. I soon began to recover. The poison and mortification left my system and centered in my arm, and was drawn from my arm through the aid of charcoal poultices, moistened with a strong decoction of wormwood, ragweed and wild sage; the dead flesh was removed from my arm with instruments and lunar caustic, and in a few days I was well again.
I have occupied considerable space in referring to those peculiar circumstances which have attended me during life, and to sum the matter up it stands thus:–I have broken both legs–one in two places–both arms, my breastbone and three ribs, and had both ankles dislocated. I have been drowned, frozen, scalded and bit by a mad dog–have been in two waterwheels under full head of water–have passed through several severe fits of sickness, and encountered poison in its worst forms–have landed in a pile of railroad ruins–have barely been missed by the passing bullets, and have passed through a score of other hairbreadth escapes.
It has appeared miraculous to me, that with all the injuries and broken bones which I have had, I have not a lame limb, but have been enabled to endure the hardest labor, exposures and journeys–have often walked forty, fifty, and on one occasion, sixty miles in a day. The protection and mercy of God has been over me, and my life thus far has been preserved; for which blessings I feel to render the gratitude of my heart to my Heavenly Father, praying that the remainder of my days may be spent in his service and in the building up of his kingdom.