I went to bed as usual at about 7:30PM. I had been reading a revelation in the French language. My mind was calm, more so than usual if possible, so I composed myself for sleep, but could not. I felt a strange feeling come over me and apparently became partially unconscious. Still I was not asleep, nor exactly awake, with dreary feeling. The first thing that I recognized was that I was in the tabernacle of Ogden, Utah. I was sitting in the back part of the building for fear they would call on me to preach, which however they did, for after singing the second time they called me to the stand.
I arose to speak and said that I didn’t know that I had anything especially to say, except to bear my testimony of the Latter-day work, when all at once it seemed as if I was lifted out of myself and I said, “Yes, I have something to say and that is this: Some of my brethren have been asking, “What is becoming of us? What is the wind blowing?” I will answer you right here what is coming very shortly.”
I was then in a dream, immediately in the city of Salt Lake, and wandering around in the streets and in all parts of the city, and on the doors of the houses I found badges of mourning and I could not find a house but was in mourning. I passed my own house and found the same sign there, and I asked the question, “Is that me that is dead?” Someone gave me the answer, “No, you will get through it all.”
It seemed strange to me that I saw no person in the streets in all my wandering around the country. I seemed to be in their houses with the sick, but saw no funeral procession, nor anything of the kind, but the city looking still and as though the people were praying. And it seemed that they had controlled the disease, but what the disease was I did not learn; it was not made known to me. I then looked over the country, north, east, south, and west, and the same mourning was in every land and in every place.
The next thing I knew I was just this side of Omaha. It seemed though I was above the earth, and looking down upon it. As I passed along upon my way east I saw the road full of people, mostly women, with just what they could carry in bundles on their backs, traveling to the mountains on foot. I wondered how they would get through with such a small pack on their backs. It was remarkable to us[?] that there were so few men among them. It didn’t seem to me as though the cars were running, the rails looked rusty and the roads abandoned; and I have no conception of how I traveled as I looked down upon the people.
I continued east by the way of Omaha and Council Bluffs, which were full of disease. There were women everywhere. The state of Illinois and Missouri were in a tumult, men killing one another, women joining the fighting, family against family in the most horrid manner.
I imagined next that I was in Washington and I found desolation there. The White House was empty and the Halls of Congress the same, and everything in ruins. The people seemed to have left the city and left it to take care of itself.
I was in Baltimore. In the square where the Monument of 1812 stands in front of the Charles Hotel. I saw dead piled up so as to fill the street square. I saw mothers cutting the throats of their own children for their blood. I saw them suck it from their throats to quench their own thirst and then lie down and die. The water of Chesapeake Bay was stagnant, and the stench arising from it on account of their throwing their bodies into it so terrible, that the very smell carried death with it. I saw no man except they were dead or dying in the streets and very few women. Those I saw were crazy and in an ugly condition. Everywhere I went I beheld the same sights all over the city; it was terrible beyond description to look upon.
I thought this must be the end; but no, I was seemingly in an instant in the city of Philadelphia. There everything was still. No living soul was there to greet me. It seemed the whole city was without any inhabitants. In the south of Chestnut Street and in fact everywhere I went, the putrefaction of the dead caused such a stench that it was impossible for any living thing to breathe, nor did I see any living thing in the city.
Next I found myself in Broadway, in the city of New York, and there it seemed the people had done the best they could to overcome the disease, but in wandering down Broadway I saw the bodies of beautiful women lying, some dead and others in a dying condition, on the sidewalks. I saw men come out of cellars and ravish the persons of some that were yet alive and then kill them and rob their bodies of all the valuables they had upon them. Then before they could get back to the cellar they would roll over a time or two and die in agony. In some of the back streets I saw them kill some of their own offspring and eat their raw flesh, and in a few minutes die themselves. Everywhere I went I saw the same scene of horror and destruction and death and rapine.
No carriages, buggies, or cars were running; but death and destruction were everywhere. Then I saw fire start and just at that moment a mighty East wind sprang up and carried the flames over the city and it burned until there was not a single building left standing there, even down to the waters edge. Wharves and shipping all seemed to burn and follow in common destruction where the “great city” was a short time ago. The stench from the bodies that were burning was so great that it was carried a long distance cross the Hudson Bay and carried death and destruction wherever it penetrated. I cannot paint in words the horror that seemed to compass me about; it was beyond description of man.
I supposed this was the end; but it was not. I was given to understand the same horror was being enacted all over the country, east, west, north, and south. Few were left alive, still there were some.
Immediately after I seemed to be standing on the left bank of the Missouri River, opposite e the City of Independence, but there was no city. I saw the whole state of Missouri and Illinois and all of Iowa, a complete desert with no living being there. A short distance from the river however, I saw twelve men dressed in temple robes, standing in a square or nearly so (and I understood it represented the Twelve Gates of the New Jerusalem.) Their hands were uplifted in consecration of the ground and laying the corner stone of the temple. I saw myraids of angels hovering over them, and saw also an immense pillar of clouds over them and heard the angels singing the most heavenly music. The words were “Now is established the Kingdom of God and his Christ, which shall never more be thrown down.”
I saw people coming from the river and from the desert places a long way off to help build the temple and it seemed that hosts of angels all helped to get material to build with and I saw some of them who wore temple clothes come and build the temple and the city, and all the time I saw the great pillar of clouds hovering over the place.
Instantly, however, I found myself again in the tabernacle at Ogden. And yet, I could still see the building go on and I got quite animated in calling on the people in the tabernacle to listen to the beautiful music, for the angels were singing the same music I had heard before. “Now is established the Kingdom of God and his Christ, which shall never more be thrown down.”
At this I seemed to stagger back from the pulpit and Brother Francis D. Richards and some others caught my arm and prevented me from falling. Then I finished so abruptly. Still even then I had not fainted, but was simply exhausted.
Then I rolled over in bed and awoke just as the city clock was striking twelve.
(Source: Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, June 15, 1878, “A Vision, Salt Lake City, Night of Dec 16, 1877″)