I was born March 1, 1822 in the township of Putnam, Washington County, New York. When I was ten years old my father and most of his family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was December 2nd, 1832. The next August we started to move to Jackson County, Missouri. We arrived in Kirtland, Ohio the first part of September. The Prophet Joseph Smith advised us to stop there and help build the [Kirtland] temple. The walls were about four feet above the ground.
That fall (1833) the church was driven out of Jackson County by the mob. In February 1835 I was baptized by my brother Harrison Burgess and confirmed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, under the following circumstances. There had been about thirty-five baptized during the week and all went to church on Sunday to be confirmed. We sat on the three fronts rows of seats and I was on the third one. Jared Carter and Elder Cahoon were doing the confirming. After they had confirmed all on the first row, the Prophet held up his hand for them to stop, and came to where I was and confirmed me, then went back to the stand and told the brethren to go on with the confirming.
I lived in the Smith family for two years, and learned much of the gospel hearing the prophet talk. I helped build the Kirtland Temple and was at the dedication. We passed through the persecution with the saints and were driven out. We then moved to Caldwell County, Missouri in August of 1838. The prophet counseled us to go to Daviess County. We arrived at Adam-ondi-Ahman about the 20th of August, 1838. The mob spirit was raging and all the old settlers but two moved away in order to have their families safe while they were fighting. For about three months I didn’t undress only to wash and change clothes, and no one except those that passed through it knows the tribulation and privations that we had to endure. As it was for the gospel’s sake, we endured cheerfully. I was taken prisoner by the mob and abused terribly. But we depended on the Lord and He delivered us from them. We went to Caldwell County in December and in the spring we were put in prison and the church was driven from the state.
We next went to Adams County, Illinois. We were driven out of Missouri leaving our homes and all we had, but we were thankful for our lives that we were spared. On September 17, 1840, I married Mariah Pulsipher, daughter of Zerah Pulsipher and Mary Brown, near Lima, Adams County, Illinois. In the spring of 1841 we moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. I was elected captain of the Third Company, Fifth Regiment of the Nauvoo Legion. I passed through the trials and privations with the saints there and assisted in building the temple. On October 18, 1844 I was ordained a seventy by Daniel J. Mills. We completed the temple for ordinance work and on January 7, 1846 we received our endowments in the House of the Lord.
I left Nauvoo on February 10, 1846 with the pioneers, but came back the last of March, fixed up the best my wife and I could and started on May 23rd for Council Bluffs. I stopped in Iowa and worked. We arrived in Winter Quarters on September 16, 1846. We passed through that sickness that took so many lives and left Winter Quarters in May 1848 for the west. After four months we arrived in the Salt Lake valley on September 22, 1848.