Playing Ball Then Helping a WidowIn 1838 Joseph and some of the young men were playing various outdoor games, among which was a game of ball. By and by they began to get weary. He saw it, and calling them together he said: “Let us build a log cabin.” So off they went, Joseph and the young men, to build a log cabin for a widow woman. Such was Joseph’s way, always assisting in whatever he could. 1
Calvin W. MooreWhen Porter Rockwell was in jail, in Missouri, his mother went to see him at the jail, and the Missourians told her that if she would raise a certain amount of money and give it to them they would let her son go. Joseph started out to get the money. He came to a large crowd of young men who were wrestling, that being the popular sport in those days. Among the boys there was a bully, from LaHarpe I believe. He had thrown down every one on the ground who wrestled with him. When Joseph came to the crowd he told them what he wanted, passed around the hat, raised what money he could and then went into the ring to take part with the young men and boys in their games. So he was invited to wrestle with this bully. The man was eager to have a tussle with the Prophet, so Joseph stepped forward and took hold of the man. The first pass he made, Joseph whirled him around and took him by the collar and seat of his trousers and walked out to a ditch and threw him in it. Then, taking him by the arm, he helped him up and patted him on the back and said, “You must not mind this. When I am with the boys I make all the fun I can for them.” 2
Jesse N. Smith
In 1843, for a short time, I attended a school kept by a Miss Mitchell, in Hyrum Smith’s brick office. Passing the Prophet’s house one morning, he called me to him and asked what book I read in at my school. I replied, “The Book of Mormon.”He seemed pleased, and taking me into the house he gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon to read at school, a gift greatly prized by me.3
Mosiah L. Hancock
The summer of 1841 I played my first game of ball with the Prophet. We took turns knocking and chasing the ball, and when the game was over the Prophet said, “Brethren, hitch up your teams.”
We did, and we all drove to the woods. I drove our one-horse wagon, standing on the front bolster, and Brother Joseph and Father rode on the hounds behind. There were thirty-nine teams in the group and we gathered wood until our wagons were loaded. When our wagon was loaded, Brother Joseph offered to pull sticks with anyone who wanted to compete with him—and he pulled them all up one at a time. Afterwards the Prophet sent the wagons out to different places where people needed help; and he told them to cut the wood for the Saints who needed it. Everybody loved to do as the Prophet said, and even though we were sickly, and death was all around us, folks smiled and tried to cheer everyone up.
I saw many remarkable cases of healing under the hands of the Prophet while we were at Nauvoo. 4
One day Joseph rode up to the Temple grounds, as we stood together talking after our day’s work, and called out, “Boys, has Bonaparte any friends in the French Army?” Of course we were all attention to know his meaning. He then told us that Orrin Porter Rockwell had been thrown in jail, in Missouri, and that for the sum of two hundred dollars his mother could obtain his release. Joseph said he had not sufficient money himself, so he wanted the brethren to assist him. All present respondended heartily.
Joseph dismounted from his horse and engaged in a friendly wrestle with some of the “boys,” as he called us. He often tried to get me to wrestle with him. I never could. I was a strong man. Often when we met and shook hands, he would pull me to him for a wrestle and say, slapping my shoulder with his hand, “If you are not a strong man there is no use of putting a man upright.”
I have been with him at times when approached by a long-faced religious stranger, who seemed to think that it was almost a sin to smile, and that the Prophet should be as sedate and as cheerless as himself. The Prophet would challenge someone present for a wrestle—to the utter astonishment of the religious stranger, who would be almost shocked at the mention of a wrestle, but would extol Jacob, who seemed to be an accomplished wrestler and also a great favorite with God.5
- Edwin Holden, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor 27, no. 5 (1 March 1892): 153.
- The Juvenile Instructor, XXVII (April 15, 1892), p. 255.
- They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], 99
- Autobiography of Mosiah L. Hancock, Brigham Young University Library
- Journal of Wandle Mace, Brigham Young University Library