When I was seven years old, my father left the town of York, and settled in the town of Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York, in which place he cleared up a large farm as the country was new, and also carried on a heavy business at wool carding and cloth dressing. In this place my father, with his family, was well situated, and much respected by all. His house was ever a home to the weary and his hand never withheld from the poor.
In the year 1830 or 1831 he began to hear something concerning the Book of Mormon, and the setting up of the kingdom of god on the earth in the last days. The little information that we gained upon this subject, until the elders came preaching, was through Warren A. Cowdery whose farm joined with our farm. Warren A. obtained from his brother, Oliver, at an early date some of the proof sheets to the Book of Mormon, some of which we had the privilege of perusing, and we did not peruse any faster than we believed.
In the year 1833 elders were preaching in different parts of the country. Sectarianism was also playing a heavy part, as there were revivals on all sides, and the motto with priestcraft seemed to be, now or never. Early in the year 1834 Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt came to my father’s house. They preached two or three times in the neighborhood, and conversed much in private. Before they left my oldest brother was baptized and went the same year to Missouri with Joseph Smith and many others in what was called the Zion’s Camp. On the 7th of April, 1834, my father and myself were baptized, and soon after all the family were numbered in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In February, 1836, the family moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where Joseph Smith then resided. My father with all his house were fully convinced previous to being baptized that God had set to his hand for the last time to prune the earth, and that in fulfillment of his word. He would gather together a people who would serve Him, and be prepared to escape the distress that should come upon the nations as well as for the coming of the Son of Man, when he should be revealed in the glory of his Father. This being our faith, our first object was to gather with the Saints agreeable to the revelations which God had given. On the 27th of March, after our arrival in Kirtland, the temple in that place was dedicated. This was the first temple built by the Saints of the last days, and the first endowments were given at this conference. This was, by far, the best meeting I had ever attended. The gifts of the gospel were enjoyed in a marvelous manner, and angels administered unto many.
In the spring of 1837 Joseph Smith and many others on account of persecution, took their departure with their families for the state of Missouri. The same spring the printing office belonging to the Saints in Kirtland was burned.
In the spring of 1838 I took my leave of my parents and journeyed for the state of Missouri. I traveled to Wellsville a distance of 90 miles on foot from thence down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi and Missouri River to Boonville by steamboat. From Boonville I traveled to the village of Far West a distance of 10 miles on foot, making in all a journey of near 1800 miles. I reached Far West about the middle of April and tarried in the place and its vicinity until the 4th of July, on which day I attended a celebration in Far West and listened to an oration delivered by Elder Rigdon. Soon after the celebration, I went to Fort Leavenworth in Missouri Territory, a distance of 60 miles. I had been at this place but about two weeks when I was taken with a very severe attack of the bilious fever. But, after about two weeks sickness, the fever was so far removed that I was able to return to Far West.
Soon after my return I found that the brethren were being harassed by a merciless set of men, who not being satisfied with having driven the Saints from Jackson and Clay Counties, must again seek to plunder them, and drive them from their pleasant and hard earned homes. The mob continued their hostilities until many of the Saints were slain in cold blood, and their property stolen or destroyed–and finally we were obliged to witness the Prophet through whom God had revealed the dispensation of the fullness of times, taken in company with his brother, Hyrum, and many of the Twelve and many others and dragged from our presence and from their families and thrust into prison, and the remainder of the Saints were forced to leave the state. The number of the Saints in Missouri at that time amounted to some 12 or 15 thousand and the sufferings on this occasion no pen can describe–it being in the middle of a cold and dreary winter and many of the Saints having been robbed of their all, were obliged to journey on foot across the dreary prairies a distance of some two hundred and fifty to three hundred miles, many of them without proper clothing or even shoes to keep their feet from the stubble of the burnt prairies. But, knowing that all was brought upon them because they would adhere strictly to the truths of heaven, their courage failed not, though many who reached the state of Illinois, because of their sufferings, were brought to a premature grave.
Included in the number of those who came out to plunder and drive the Saints were known to be not less than 19 sectarian priests, who proved themselves the most cruel of our persecutors. The governor of the state, Lilburn W. Boggs, also proved himself to be devoid of all feeling, and his name will be handed down to posterity as the “Hero” of the latter times. The heads of the Church were most cruelly treated with mock trials and in filthy dungeons for six or eight months, and finally through the mercy and interposition of the hand of God, they were delivered, but not to find their families as when they left them, but rather to follow their trail to Quincy, Illinois, to which place they had been driven.
I left Far West in December, 1838, with the satisfaction of knowing that I had done all in my power for the protection and good of the Saints. I made my way to Quincy, at which place I found my parents. They left Kirtland in September, and had got into the state of Missouri about one hundred miles when they were met by a mob and forced to return.
I stopped in and about Quincy until the 1st of October, A.D. 1839. I then went to Nauvoo, where the Saints were then gathering, for the purpose of attending a conference, and the 7th instruction was called by the spirit of prophecy and ordained to the office of an elder and commissioned to preach the gospel–and on the 6th of November I started on my first mission. My feelings on this occasion were of no ordinary kind. I was young and without experience, but knowing that God had called me, and trusting in Him alone, I started on my journey having in company Elder Duzeth for a fellow laborer. We traveled through the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. We journeyed according to the instruction of the Savior, without purse or scrip, preaching by the way. We returned after an absence of about three months, and although we had baptized but few, we felt that the Lord had been with us and that we had opened the way for our future labors.
On the 6th of April, 1840, I again attended conference in Nauvoo, and on the 7th was ordained a member of the Quorum of Seventies. As soon as conference closed, I started on a mission to the state of Maine in company with Elder John Herrett. We journeyed to St. Louis on foot, held 10 meetings on the way, and baptized two. From St. Louis we journeyed to Wellsville, Ohio by steamboat, then to Kirtland on foot. We tarried in Kirtland 8 or 10 days, and delivered some five or six discourses in the [Kirtland] temple. Then went to Fairport and took a steamer for Buffalo. From Buffalo we journeyed on foot to the town of Freedom, a distance of 40 miles, at which place I received the fullness of the gospel. At this place we tarried near three weeks and baptized 10. From Freedom we journeyed to Portage County, traveled through different parts of Portage and Livingston Counties, held 17 meetings, and baptized 12. On the 14th of July we again started on our journey and traveled by canal and steamboat to New York City, and from New York to Boston on rail car and steamboat. Left Boston on the 24th of July on board the steamer “Bangor” touched at Portland, and on the 25th of July arrived at Thomas Town, Maine. Left Thomas Town same day on board of a small fishing boat and started across Penobscoft Bay for Fox Islands, distance 9 miles.
On the morning of the 26th, we were safely landed on North Fox Island. Soon after we were set on shore we went a short distance to a grove and, in secret, bowed before the Lord and gave thanks to Him for the blessings conferred upon us during our journey, and humbly asked for His protection over us during our stay upon the island.
We commenced preaching the same day we reached the island, and on the 20th of August, which was 25 days from the time we landed, we had held 23 meetings and baptized 24. The two islands which were called North and South Fox Islands contain 1800 inhabitants, and our labors were upon both islands. After laboring upon the islands about four weeks, I was taken with a violent attack of the typhus fever–I was confined to my bed for about nine weeks and it seemed that death was determined to conquer, but through the goodness of God my life was spared. Brother Herrett, my fellow laborer, waited upon me faithfully during the two first weeks of my sickness, when he was not called away to fill his appointments. On the 10th of October he was taken with the same fever. He had not been sick but a short time when he told the people that he should not recover, but said that I would get well, for thus had the Lord manifested to him. He died on the 19th of the same month. Elder Herrett was a good man and was willing to wade through all kinds of opposition for the truth’s sake, and whenever he could get the privilege of standing before the congregation of the wicked to declare the truths of the gospel although opposition might rage–he was in the height of his glory. Our hearts were knit together as were the hearts of David and Jonathan. I felt to deplore my loss, but he rests with those who have overcome and kept the faith. Brother Herrett baptized three after I was taken sick.
As soon as I had recovered my health sufficient to warrant me in commencing my labors, I left the island and went onto the mainland. I crossed the bay on the 8th of December, and on the 9th commenced preaching. I continued preaching in public and private houses to large and attentive congregations, and also to hold public and private discussions until the 26th of February, at which time I had held 47 meetings and baptized 26. On the 26th of February, 1841, I returned to the island, and on Sunday, the 7th of March, I baptized three, and on Monday, the 8th, I held three meetings and baptized and confirmed 17. On the 9th I preached again and baptized two. After attending to the ordinance, I took passage in a small boat and went onto the North Island. The 10th I baptized two, and on the same day crossed the bay onto the mainland, and, after organizing the Saints and giving them such instructions as the Spirit of the Lord dictated to me, I took my leave of the people, having baptized in all, in company with Elder Herrett, one hundred and seven.
On the 28th of March I embarked on board of a small schooner for New York City. Reached the city on the 9th of April. On the morning of the 16th, left New York and at one o’clock p.m. arrived in Philadelphia, distance of 85 miles. On Sunday, the 11th, attended a meeting of the Saints in the city, Benjamin Winchester preached. After he was done speaking, I gave a short sketch of my labors for the past year. Monday, 12th, I left Philadelphia and, traveling by rail cars and canal boat, reached Johnstown on the west side of the Alleghany Mountains, on Saturday. At this place I overtook a company of Saints on their way to Nauvoo from Holiston, Massachusetts. In this company, was Elizabeth H. Bullard who afterward became my wife. I journeyed with this company by canal and steamboat to St. Louis on Thursday, the 27th of April. On the 28th I left the company and took passage on board the steamer “Rosalie”. The night came on dark and rainy and at 11 o’clock the “Rosalie” came in contact with the steamer “Monsoon”. The boats came in close contact before either was discovered, and the “Monsoon” in trying to clear the way, was thrown across the river, just in time for the “Rosalie”, her headway not being stopped, to force her bow near half through her middle deck, tearing away her wheel and wheel house and hurling her engine out of its bed and carrying away such other machinery as came in her way. Men were thrown out of their berths, and women and children were crying, and for a time all was in confusion. But after a considerable labor the boats were separated.
I reached Quincy on Friday, the 30th of April, and as my father was at this time living 8 miles from Quincy, I walked to his house the same day. I tarried with my parents the most of the remaining part of the season. I held several meetings during the season and the fall and winter, in Adams County, and in several of the adjoining counties, and also visited Nauvoo from time to time.
On the 23rd of February A.D., 1842, I was married. The following summer I built in connection with my father, a comfortable brick house in Nauvoo, also fenced my city lot and made every other possible improvement which would tend to render life happy.
At the October conference of 1842, I was again called upon by the authorities of the Church to resume my labors in the ministry, and on the 23rd of the same month, (October 1842) I took my leave of my family and friends and in company with Benjamin S. Wilber started for the state of Vermont. We journeyed by steamboat to Pittsburgh and from thence to Philadelphia by canal and rail cars. We traveled through the state of New Jersey on foot, held several meetings in the state, and were enabled to allay much prejudice which had been excited by reason of the wicked falsehoods which had been put in circulation by John C. Bennett who had been cut off from the Church for his iniquity.
From New Jersey we went to New York, from thence to West Stockbridge, thence to Richmond. Stopped with Brother Phinehas Richards and on Sunday, the 9th of January (1843), held meeting at Brother Richards, and his wife was baptized. Brother Phinehas Richards is the father of Franklin, Samuel and Henry Richards. From Richmond we journeyed to Vermont preaching and baptizing by the way. We arrived in Woodstock, the county seat of Windsor, and its vicinity for three months during which time I visited the homestead of my father and mother, or the home and burial place of my grandparents. I found many who had been acquainted with my parents in the days of their youth, and who were exceedingly happy to form an acquaintance with me, and to them I was permitted to preach the fullness of the everlasting gospel and also to a step-grandmother, and one uncle and aunt, all of whom I had never before seen. I also visited the town of Sharon, the birthplace of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We organized a branch of the Church in the town of Woodstock, and baptized in all 35 souls.
The forepart of April I took my leave of Brother Wilber, who expected to follow in a few days, and started on my return route. I traveled on foot and by stage to Peterborough, New Hampshire, and from thence to Lowell, Massachusetts. At this place I found Elder E. T. Benson. I stopped in Lowell 2 days and delivered three public discourses. During this time there were 2 baptized. Baptism administered by Elder Benson.
From Lowell I journeyed to Worcester. At this place I met with a company of Saints on their way to Nauvoo. I journeyed with this company by rail car to Albany, thence to Buffalo by canal, and from Buffalo to Cleveland Ohio by steamboat, and from Cleveland across the state of Ohio to the Ohio River by canal; thence down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi to Nauvoo by steamboat. Reached home about the middle of June, 1843. Found my family enjoying the blessing of health and the Spirit of the Lord. On my return from this mission I was presented with a daughter born the 12th of February preceding.
I will here state, as it was neglected on the preceding page, that on my return route, in passing up the Erie Canal, I stopped at the village of Palmyra, and in company of some three or four others procured a carriage and went back into the country and visited the Hill Cumorah, so called in the Book of Mormon, from which the records were taken. We passed up the hill from the north end, to the top, passed over the west and east sides, and found the description given by Oliver Cowdery to be very satisfactory. A gentleman in company picked up an Indian arrow point near the top of the hill, which was very curiously wrought.
While viewing the country round about many peculiar sensations crossed my bosom, as here many thousand strong men had fallen in battle, and the numerous hosts of Jaredites, as well as the armies of the Nephites had become extinct–and here it was that Moroni, the man of God, had deposited the records of the Nephites by the command of the Lord. And here it was they were revealed in the due time of the Lord by an holy angel to Joseph Smith as the commencement of the great work of the dispensation of the fullness of times.
I tarried in the City of Nauvoo with my family until the 23rd of September, 1843, which gave me a respite of three months. I then took my leave and again started on a mission to the Eastern States. I traveled to Chicago by land, thence across Lake Michigan. Lake Huron and Lake Erie by steamboat to Buffalo, thence on foot to Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York. Stopped and delivered two discourses to a large assembly of old acquaintances. I then went into Alleghany, Struben and Livingston Counties, New York in which section of the country I spent the winter, and the Spirit of the Lord was with me. I soon had doors opened for the preaching in every direction and many obedient to the truth. Many priests of different denominations came out against me, but their wickedness was so plainly manifest that their labors only served to help spread the truth. I built up a branch of the Church in the town of Ossian, Alleghany County, New York of sixty members and in the village of Prattsburg, some 35 or 40 miles from Ossian, I baptized ten.
On the 5th of May, 1844, a notice having been published in the Times and Seasons at Nauvoo that I had been appointed a mission to Vermont in company with Elder Erastus Snow, I took my leave of the Saints in Ossian and traveling by canal and stage reached Woodstock, Vermont on the 14th. I tarried in Woodstock and in the regions round about, until the 23rd of June, during which time I had the privilege of bearing record to the truth to many large and attentive congregations, and also of baptizing two. On Saturday, the 23rd Elder E. Snow arrived in Woodstock. On Sunday, the 24th, Elder Snow preached in Woodstock, and on Wednesday, the 27th, we started north and passing through Northfield, Montpelier, Cabot and St. Jonsbury, and on Saturday, the 29th of June, and on Sunday, the 30th of June, we held conference in Lindon, at which time the different branches in Vermont were represented, and we had a very interesting time. There were two Millerite preachers present, and one of them became convinced of the truth and was soon after baptized.
At this conference the course to be pursued in the ensuing presidential election by all the Saints throughout the Union was laid before the people and was met with a hearty response. Our object was to vote for a man whom we knew to be our friend as we had proven many and found them faithless and untrue to their trust, and in all respects unworthy of our confidence and the confidence of all good men. But instead of the nation’s operating for their own future welfare as a people, to say nothing of the blessings of eternity which might have been obtained and were freely offered to the people by the man whom God had raised up to be a Prophet, Seer and Revelator.
On the 27th of June, as Elder Snow and myself were journeying from Woodstock to Lindon, Joseph Smith the man of God, was taken, and after having submitted to be cast into prison at Carthage, Illinois to await a trial by law and if fault could be found in him to suffer accordingly. After having thus submitted, Joseph, together with his brother, Hyrum, were cruelly murdered, when at the same time the authority of the state was pledged for their protection. Thus did the state and I may say, the Union, for the nation virtually acquiesced in the foul deed, prove themselves unworthy. They have stained the earth with the blood of the man or men, through whom God has organized His kingdom on earth, which kingdom he has decreed shall stand forever and for that blood the nation will be obliged to stone.
On Monday, the 2nd of July, Elder Snow and myself started on our return to Woodstock. Soon after we arrived in Woodstock, we learned through the public prints that the wicked were arraying themselves against the Saints in Nauvoo, and we mutually came to the conclusion to start on our return home.
On the 5th of July, Elder Snow left Woodstock to journey by the way of Boston–and on the 8th I took my leave of the Saints, and crossing the Green Mountains, reached White Hall, New York on the 9th. While at this place I learned that Joseph and Hyrum had been slain, as above stated. On receiving this information my soul sickened and I wept before the Lord, and for a time it seemed that the very heavens were clad in mourning.
From White Hall I journeyed to Troy by canal, thence to Syracuse by rail car, and from Syracuse to Rochester by canal. From Rochester I went up the Genesee Valley Canal to Mount Morris, distance 40 miles; thence to Ossian on foot, and on Saturday and Sunday, the 20th and 2lst of July, held conference in Ossian. Brother William Pratt was present. There was a very large assembly present, and the Spirit of the Lord was upon us, and we were enabled to declare the principles of righteousness in great plainness to the people.
On Sunday I addressed the people from the saying of the Prophet, “When the wicked rule the people mourn, but when the righteous rule, the people rejoice”–and never before did the Lord give me greater liberty in speaking.
After meeting I rode with a gentleman by the name of Olney to Portage, distance 9 miles, and on Monday baptized a niece of Mr. Olney’s. On Tuesday, the 23rd, was carried by my friends to Cattaraugus County, a distance of 25 miles, and on Thursday, the 25th I went to Buffalo a distance of 40 miles. Reached Buffalo at sunset. Put up at Huff’s Hotel, and on Friday morning, to my great joy, I found that six of the Quorum of the Twelve had arrived in the city the same night of my arrival and had put up at the same house, but at a late hour; President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Lyman Wight, and Wilford Woodruff composed the number. Friday morning at 8 o’clock we took passage on board the steamer “Buffalo” for Detroit, feeling within myself that I was truly happily situated. Elder Orson Hyde left at Fairport, Ohio to journey by way of Kirtland.
The vessel touched at Cleveland, Sandusky Bay, and Toledo and reached Detroit Saturday, at 10 o’clock a.m. We put up for the night at the Railroad Hotel, and on Sunday, July 28th, left Detroit on board the steam propeller “Hercules.” Crossed Lake Huron, stopped at Fort McGnaw a short time on Tuesday, the 30th, then proceeded across Lake Michigan, touched at Milwaukee, Racine, and South Port in Wisconsin Territory, and on Thursday August the 1st, 1844, at 8 o’clock p.m. arrived in Chicago.
Friday morning left Chicago in the stagecoach and on Sunday, the 4th, reached Gallina, distance 160 miles. Took lodging in the American House. Left Gallina Monday, August 5, at 5 o’clock p.m. on board the steamer “St. Croix.” Touched at Davenport, Bloomington, and Burlington, and arrived at Nauvoo on Tuesday at 8 o’clock p.m. Had one mile to walk to reach the residence of my family. Found all well and felt to give thanks to my Heavenly Father for the many blessings he had conferred upon me during my mission, as well as for the many blessings I had received from His hand during my past life. Still I felt to mourn the loss of those whom I had loved in the truth and from whose lips I had often received sweet counsel, but who were now in their graves.
On Thursday, August the 8th , I attended a special conference in Nauvoo. Elder Rigdon addressed the assembly in the forenoon. Elder Rigdon sought, as he expressed it, the guardianship of the Church, but it was plainly manifest that the Spirit of the Lord had withdrawn from him, and that he sought that which did not belong to him. From the time the saints were driven from Missouri he had evidently been on the background, and had not walked up to his station, and on one occasion I heard Joseph Smith say that he had carried Elder Rigdon on his back long enough, and then turning to the Twelve said that if they did not help him at that time in shaking him off, the time would come when they would have it to do, and that without his, Joseph’s assistance. And on Thursday, the 8th of August, was this saying of the Prophet brought home with weight to my mind.
In the afternoon President Brigham Young came upon the stand and addressed the vast multitude of anxious listeners as follows: “For the first time the Twelve walk up to the stand in their place, we have walked by sight and not by faith. The Church had had the privilege of coming to Joseph and of receiving, but now he has stepped to the other side of the veil. He loved the Church even unto death, and laid down his life for it.” President Young then asked the following questions: “Do you want to choose a person to lead you into the Kingdom, if so manifest it.” All were silent. “If there is any person present that wishes to draw away party after them let them rise.” But no one rose. “I have wanted,” said President Young, “to fast thirty days, and to clothe my house in mourning, but it seems that the saints are determined to drive business. They are not willing to wait and let everything come in its place, but business must be driven, and as it falls to my lot to speak, I shall speak in plainness. Do you want President Rigdon to take Joseph’s place, if so take him. Here are the Twelve. Have my knees ever faltered, have these hands ever slackened?” “No,” and “No,” said voices from all directions. “The Twelve hold the keys and are in authority equal with the First President when the first is absent. Do you want to choose a trustee in trust to take Joseph’s place, if so the Twelve must ordain him, for the power rests in them, and in them alone, the Church cannot do it.”
“The Almighty with all his train are working in cooperation with us. Then,” said he. “Let us pursue a proper course. Joseph has laid an almighty foundation, and we will rear thereupon an almighty building.” The President remarked that the Devil had to work faster than he ever had done to kill Saints faster than we would make them. He then showed the propriety of having a bishop to stand in his place as he never had done, and take charge of all the financial concerns, while the Apostles and Elders attend to ministering the word, etc. And then [he, Brigham Young] said that if Elder Rigdon wanted to be a spokesman for Joseph, let him go to the other side of the veil. “Who” said he, “ever heard of such a thing as a person on one side of the veil acting as a spokesman for a person on the other side.” The President further stated that no person could stand between Joseph and the Twelve. And then turning to the people, said it was their place to rise up and help roll on the Kingdom. “But let us not undertake anything new, let us follow the law and not undertake to divide the priesthood one hair.”
Elders P. P. Pratt and Amasa Lyman made some very appropriate remarks, confirming what President Young had said. Elder Lyman said that he had as good a right to lay claim to Joseph’s place as had Elder Rigdon but that the thought had never entered his heart. His desires and determinations were to stand by the Twelve.
Elder W. W. Phelps also made some very comforting remarks. Said that Joseph was not in a situation that he could not visit the Saints. He then related a dream. Said that he saw Joseph the second night after his death, and that he looked as natural as life, and bore the same self-commanding look. Elder Phelps thought the kingdom appeared to be on wheels, and Joseph asked him why he did not speak to the drivers and have them go ahead with it. He asked Joseph if the kingdom was on wheels, and he said “yes”, and told him to drive ahead. Elder Phelps then spoke to the drivers and they drove ahead. He saw the kingdom move around the temple. Joseph spoke to him as they came round and said, “You see it moves and receives no harm. Now drive across the river into Iowa.” Brother Phelps replied that if they did that they would be obliged to cross Devil Creek. “Never mind Devil Creek,” said Joseph, “drive ahead.”
President Young again arose and spoke concerning the endowments of the elders. Said that if they did not get them in the temple, they should have them if they had to receive them in the wilderness, for the devil could not cheat them out of them. He then called upon the Saints to know if they would receive the Twelve and let them stand in their place as the First Presidency of the Church in the absence of Joseph. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative. On this day it was plainly manifest that the mantle of Joseph had rested upon President Young. The voice of the same spirit by which he, Joseph, spake was this day sounded in our ears, so much so that I once, unthoughtedly, raised my head to see if it was not actually Joseph addressing the assembly. The assembly was dismissed by President Young after being blessed in the name of the Lord.
Sunday, the 11th, the most of the Twelve were absent. Lyman Wight addressed the Saints in the forenoon, and in the afternoon I was called upon to speak to them and was blessed in so doing. Tuesday, the 13th, I delivered a discourse on a funeral occasion.
Sunday, the 18th, President Young addressed the Saints in the forepart of the day, and Elder Kimball in the afterpart. The president made some remarks in reference to baptism for the dead, said that they wanted a proper time for reflection, and to mourn the loss of our beloved Prophet and Patriarch, and then proceed to business. He then stated that there were those that were anxious to push business, and some were seeking to divide the Church and lead off a part into the wilderness, but inasmuch as they did so, the course of God should follow them, and whereas certain individuals had used their influence to divide the people by saying that the Twelve secretly upheld them in their course of procedure, he declared it to be false, and that, in the most pointed terms. He further stated that none were to leave the place except the few that were called upon to go to the pinery, and such as were counseled to leave, and that if Lyman Wight and George Miller did not give heed to counsel, they would come to destruction. He also showed the necessity of uniting our exertions to finish the [Nauvoo] temple, that the elders might receive their endowments and be prepared to bear off the world.
Elder Kimball remarked that he had always given heed to the instructions which he had received from Joseph and that he had never given him a job but that he had always looked upon him as his superior and as his savior. And after showing the necessity of being submissive in all things, he called upon the Saints to know if they would uphold the Twelve, and all the people said, “We will.” “Well then,” said Elder Kimball, “We will never forsake you.”
Many more valuable instructions were given both by President Young and Elder Kimball which I did not pen, all of which were calculated to encourage the Saints to give strict heed to the commandments of heaven.
At the October Conference of 1844, held in the city of Nauvoo, I was ordained one of the Presidents of the 8th Quorum of Seventies. In January, 1845, I was appointed a mission to the state of Mississippi and Alabama, in company with Elder [Elam] Ludington. Elder Shirwood accompanied us to a Brother Black’s in Mississippi, about 75 miles from Memphis. He then left to pursue his route to New Orleans. Elder Ludington and myself returned after an absence of two months, having been blessed in our labors. The object of the mission was to collect tithing for the building of the [Nauvoo] temple, and also to get young men among the Saints, and such as could leave their homes to come and spend the summer in Nauvoo and labor on the temple, etc.
The summer of 1845 I spent a portion of the time laboring on the [Nauvoo] temple and a portion for the support of my family. On the 23rd of December myself and wife Elizabeth received our washing and anointing in the temple, and on the 19th of January, 1846, we were sealed, agreeable to the order of the Holy Priesthood, for time and for all eternity. On the 22nd of January we received our second anointing, on which day my father and mother also received theirs.
The endowments were commenced in the [Nauvoo] temple on the 9th of December, 1845 and were closed about the 8th of February, 1846. January 5, I was called upon to assist in the ordinance of the endowments, and from this time until the 8th of February I remained in the temple the most of the time.
A patriarchal blessing given in the city of Nauvoo, January 30th, 1846 by John Smith, Patriarch, upon the head of William Hyde, son of Heman and Polly W., born September 11th, 1818; town of York, Livingston County state of New York.
“Brother William, I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and place upon thee all the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant. Thou art of the house of Jacob, and a lawful heir to the Holy Priesthood which shall be placed upon thee in fullness in due time, with all the mysteries and powers of the same, because thou hast obeyed the gospel and thy heart is honest. Thy sins are forgiven, inasmuch as you continue faithful. Suffer not your mind to become corrupted by evil and designing persons, but follow the council of the servants of the Lord. No mention shall be ever made of thy former transgressions. But thou shalt go forth as a mighty man and gather together the remnants of Jacob from the four quarters of the earth and no power on earth shall stay thine hand. Thou shalt be able to do any miracle that was ever done by man in the name of Jesus, when it is necessary for the salvation of men or building up the Kingdom of Israel in the last days. Thou shalt be blessed in thy house with a numerous family, they shall increase like Jacob and become a mighty people. Thou shalt have an inheritance in the land of Joseph with thy brethren the children of Ephraim. Thou shalt inherit every blessing which thy heart desired and live to see the winding up scene of this generation if you desire it, and enjoy all the blessings and glories of the Redeemer’s Kingdom, and in the end inherit eternal life. This is thy blessing, brother, which I seal upon thee, and inasmuch as thou art faithful it shall not fail, ever so, Amen.”
A blessing given in Nauvoo, January 30th, 1846, by John Smith, Patriarch, upon the head of Elizabeth H. Hyde, daughter of Joel and Lucretia Bullard, born October 2nd, 1813, in the town of Hilliston, Middlesex County, Massachusetts:
“Sister Elizabeth, I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and place upon thee a blessing of a father. Thou art a daughter of Ephraim, and an heir to all the blessings that Jacob sealed upon the sons of Joseph, even all the beauties and glories of Zion, all the powers and benefits of the Holy Priesthood which shall be conferred upon thee in due time in common with thy companion in fullness, for no good thing shall be withheld from thee. Thou shalt be blessed in thy family with health, peace and plenty. Thy storehouse shall be well supplied with the best fruits of the earth, goodness and mercy shall follow thy steps continually, inasmuch as thou art faithful in thy calling, and inasmuch as thou art agreed with thy companion in all things, thy children shall live until they are old, shall grow up about thy table like olive plants, and become exceeding numerous and rise up in thy old age and call thee blessed. Thou shalt be blessed with every favor that is desirable; you shall live to see Israel gathered from every part of the land, Zion established in peace, and if your faith does not fail thou shalt enjoy all the blessings of the Redeemer’s kingdom–even so, Amen.”
In the month of February, 1846, President Young, Heber C. Kimball, in company with many of the first elders of the Church, because of persecution, left Nauvoo and took their departure into the wilderness, for the purpose of searching out a resting place for the Saints, that if possible, they might dwell in peace, and be remote, and free from the turmoil and perplexity, and the persecutions which they had suffered from the hands of the gentiles.
This first company, which was composed of men, women and children suffered much from the severe storms which they had to encounter. But the Lord was with them and although seemingly in no wise fitted for the expedition, they succeeded in braving the storms and in building bridges, and in wheeling through mud and mire until they reached Council Bluffs in Iowa Territory.
I left Nauvoo with my family the 18th of May, 1846, in company with my father and mother, also my brother Charles, and Rosel with his family, and David Grant, who was the husband of my sister, Mary Ann.