“Life Incidents,” Woman’s Exponent 9-10 (1880-1882) and “Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo,” Woman’s Exponent 11 (1882-83)
By Helen Mar Kimball Whitney
The scenes which are familiar to the Latter-day Saints of an earlier day, are but little known to those who have since been gathered from the different nations, nor to those who have grown up in the peaceful valleys of the Rocky Mountains. Until within a few years, the world knew nothing of our true history. Falsehoods were manufactured and sent out to serve the purposes of our enemies, and apostates have been their willing tools. The bitter prejudices felt by the outside world makes it almost an impossibility for them to believe or become acquainted with our faith and principles; but the history of this people is always interesting to the Latter-day Saints, and incidents of our travels and experience are calculated to benefit the young and rising generation. The spirit of unbelief which has crept into our midst is lamentable, and a stupor seems to have come over a portion of this people, who I sometimes fear, will need the judgments of God to awaken them from its influence, and we know that they are sure to come upon the slothful and disobedient, if they do not repent.
I can truly say that I feel an interest in the welfare of all, and if some of the incidents of my life could impress the minds of others as they have my own, I would feel amply repaid for writing them. There seems to be a great curiosity in the minds of strangers about the “Mormon” women, and I am willing, nay, anxious, that they should know the true history of the faithful women of Mormondom. In the brief sketches which have been given from time to time, the trials and sufferings of the Latter-day Saints have scarcely been touched upon.
Since writing my reminiscences I have thought of the names of many who lived and died for the truth. Among these was the widow of Brother David W. Patten. She was a noble and self-sacrificing woman, who left all for the gospel’s sake, and her husband being a missionary, she was early thrown upon her own resources, and though she had a slight and delicate frame, she had a persevering and energetic spirit, was neat, and naturally of a refined nature and could not be happy in idleness. She was a seamstress by trade and worker her living. The hardships and privations incident to a western life, particularly to the Latter-day Saints, soon broke her down and brought on consumption. After her husband was killed, she, being like the rest destitute, felt that she must do something for her support, and not finding anything else that she could do, concluded to take a few boarders. Among them was a young man who, though not a member of our Church, bore a good character, and, to be brief, he loved her, and seeing her lonely condition, proposed to marry her. She accepted. This step, at the time, caused many to think her weak in the faith. When we afterwards met her in Quincy, Illinois, she told my parents why she married without asking counsel, said she was no longer able to work and had no one to take care of her, and she knew what the counsel would be if she asked it, and not wishing to disobey, she did it on her own responsibility. As soon as he heard and understood the gospel, he received it. After father [Heber C. Kimball] came to us in Quincy, they having a house with two rooms, gave us one to live in while father went up to Commerce to prepare a place for us. His name was Bentley. He was a carpenter by trade, industrious and well able to provide everything she needed or desired, and though a number of years younger than she, he was perfectly devoted to her, and his study by day and by night was to make her comfortable. No one could show greater love and tenderness toward a wife than he did, until her spirit took its flight which, if I remember rightly, was the second year after the Saints settled at Nauvoo. He lived but a few years after her death.
She was an exemplary woman, and I enjoyed the love and respect of all who knew her. While we were living with them in Quincy, when I was about ten years of age, I had a severe attack of fever, and a heavy storm coming on, the weather was quite cold, and not having a fireplace in the room, mother [Vilate Kimball] placed a kettle of live coals in the center of the apartment. Just as she stepped out into the other room, my little brother aged about four years came in and accidentally fell into the kettle and burned him badly. I was so frightened that I was upon the point of leaping out of bed when mother heard him scream, but he sprang out before she got into the room and cried for her to anoint him with the consecrated oil. She immediately administered it, and was silently praying, when he cried, “Pray loud.” She obeyed him and in a few minutes he was sound asleep. He never cried from the burn after the oil was administered and it was healed from that moment. What a pity we cannot always have faith like a little child, and instead of calling upon doctors who have no faith in the ordinances, call on the Great Physician, who giveth freely to all and upbraideth not. When we can do this, there will be less suffering and fewer graves to weep over.
In the month of July,  father [Heber C. Kimball] moved us up to Commerce; he pulled down an old log stable belonging to a Brother Bozier, about one mile from the river, and laid up the logs at the end of the Bozier house (which had a number of rooms and contained several families). He put on a few “shakes” to cover it, but it had no floor or chinking. When it rained, the water stood nearly ankle deep on the ground. The chimney of the other house, being built on the outside, served us as a fireplace. My mother, not liking the dirt floor, had a few little boards laid down to serve as a substitute.
I rememberthe evening of the 23rd of August, 1839. We were visited by a heavy rain storm, and those boards floated on the water. My mother [Vilate Kimball] had bread light and ready to bake in a tin oven or reflector, and it had to be propped up so as to bake the bread before the fire, which was built upon andirons. Under these peculiar circumstances I was allowed to go and stop with one of our neighbors, and when I returned in the morning, I was informed that a little stranger had arrived that night. This was truly a wonderful event and created quite a sensation in our midst. He was named after David Patten and although born in a stable, he was a prince in our estimation. This was their sixth child, four of whom were then living. Father purchased five acres of woodland from Hyrum [Hiram] Kimball, and Brother Parley P. Pratt purchased the same number of acres adjoining. They went to work and cut logs and invited a few of the old citizens, viz., Brother Bozier, Squire Wells, Louis Robinson and others, to assist in putting up their houses, as our people were mostly prostrated by sickness. Brother Pratt soon sold out his improvements and went with his family on a mission to England.
Father was building his chimney and had just gotten to the ridge of the house when he was taken down with chills and fever. The hardships and exposures consequent on being driven from Missouri in the winter had made the Saints easy subjects for the ague to prey upon in that swampy country. Nearly all were taken down, one after another, and the ones who were not shaking or delirious with fever would do their best towards waiting upon those that were. Many had to see their dear ones die and not one of the family able to follow them to their last resting place. Hundreds were lying sick in tents and wagons. The Prophet visited and administered words of consolation and often made tea and waited upon them himself and sent members of his own family who were able to go, to nurse and comfort the sick and sorrowful. He was often heard to say that the Saints who died in consequence of the persecutions were as much martyrs as the ones who were killed in defense of the Saints or murdered at Haun’s Mill. There are many living martyrs who remember those days and some will yet wear a martyr’s crown. The powers of darkness seemed to have combined to put a stop to the work of the Almighty, but Satan’s plans have always been frustrated and they always will be.
One night while we were living in the Bozier house, we were awakened by our mother who was struggling as though nearly choked to death. Father [Heber C. Kimball] asked her what was the matter. When she could speak, she replied that she dreamt that a personage came and seized her by the throat and was choking her. He lit a candle and saw that her eyes were sunken and her nose pinched in, as though she were in the last stage of cholera. He [Heber C. Kimball] laid his hands upon her head and rebuked the spirit in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Priesthood commanded it to depart. In a moment afterwards, some half a dozen children in other parts of the house were heard crying as if in great distress. The cattle began to bellow and low, the horses to neigh and whinny, the dogs barked, hogs squealed, and the fowls and everything around were in great commotion. And in a few minutes my father was called to lay hands on Sister Bentley, the widow of David Patten, who lived in the next room. She was seized in a similar manner to my mother. They continued quite feeble for several days from the shock. . .
Although too young to sense the deep anguish which our parents felt yet we children wept bitterly when our father came to bid us farewell, not knowing that we would ever see him again in the flesh. Both he and Brother Young were going away so sick they were unable to get into the wagon without assistance. The scene is so vivid before me that my eyes are blinded with tears as I try to write, but words fail to describe it. Our grief for a time was very great, but the knowledge that they were messengers of the Almighty to carry glad tidings to those who were in darkness that they also might be partakers of the blessings of the gospel of salvation, sustained those who were left. The hymn containing these lines was often sung by us and appropriate words they were in our desolate condition and they brought sweet comfort:
“In every condition, in sickness, in health, In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth, At home or abroad, on the land or the sea As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be. When through the deep waters, I call thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow; For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
The following sketch will show how the apostles went forth to preach the gospel. Father [Heber C. Kimball] says:
There are no doubt many still living who remember the perilous times in Kirtland. I can recollect a time when it was unsafe for a woman or child to be found alone on the street after sundown, and when the graves had to be closely guarded or they were robbed by students who came from Willoughby and thought it no sacrilege to dissect a “Mormon” dead or alive. To illustrate, I will relate one or two incidents. A young girl named Rhoda Ballard (who was living in the family of Bishop Newel K. Whitney, who was afterwards married to his brother Lyman) started near sundown to go to her aunt’s who lived on the opposite side of the river that runs through Kirtland. There was a foot bridge across it, but just as she came to it, two young men riding in a buggy stopped and invited her to ride across, which she declined. They then urged her and she was about to accept when the horses commenced rearing and, being frightened, she started to run when one of them who had gotten out to help her in, tried to put a plaster over her mouth, but missing his aim, her screams were heard by a man nearby who came to her rescue. When the fiends saw him they dropped her and drove swiftly across the river towards Willoughby. This is no fiction, as the following will also be remembered by many, more especially by members of Ezekiel Johnson’s family who were then living near neighbors to us under the hill as we came down from Chagrain southeast of Kirtland. Several of them died from consumption and were buried on the hill near their house. They had to be guarded and I was informed that for weeks they were in the habit of tying a strong rope to a bier, which was turned over the grave and the other end to the arm of someone who slept upstairs. For each one who died, this course was pursued. Three or four of that family are now living in the southern part of this territory.
One of their sisters that died had been our teacher in Sunday School which she kept at their house. We were in the habit of reciting portions or whole chapters to her from the New Testament and how delighted we felt when she presented us with pretty little primers containing “Babes in the Woods,” “Robin Hood,” etc. etc. The mention of this brings to mind so many sweet remembrances of “the long ago” when life and all was new and bright and fair.
“And all was sunshine in each little breast. `Twas there we chased the slipper by the sound, And turned the blindfold hero round and round. `Twas here at eve, we form’d our fairy ring, And fancy fluttered on her wildest wing, Giants and genii chain’d each wondering ear, And orphan sorrows drew the ready tear. Oft with the babe we wander’d in the wood, Or view’d the forest feasts of Robin Hood. Oft fancy led at midnight’s fearful hour, With startling step we scaled the lonely tower; O’er infant innocence to hand and weep, Murder’d by ruffian hands when smiling in its sleep.”
“Lull’d in the countless chambers of the brain, Our thoughts are link’d by many a hidden chain. Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise! Each stamps its image as the other flies. Each as the various avenues of sense Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense, Brightens or fades yet all with magic art, Control the latent fibres of the heart.”
Roger’s Pleasures of memory.
These lines from the beautiful little poem are so expressive and they remind us of our own infant years. Dear are the memories of childhood of the old familiar faces and scenes that we loved so well, but all, all are gone from our sight, and should not this remind us that “life is but a span?” Then let us see that we are walking in the straight and narrow path that when our journey is ended, we will not feel ashamed to meet our Maker.
On the 13th of June , at nine a.m., my father and brethren bade adieu to their families and friends in Kirtland and started without purse or scrip to preach the gospel in a foreign land, the first elders to Great Britain. My mother and children with a number of brethren and sisters, accompanied them to Fairport. Sister Mary Fielding, who afterwards became the wife of Hyrum Smith, gave my father five dollars with which he paid the passage of himself and Brother Hyde to Buffalo. If I remember rightly, she lived with my mother from that time until married to Brother Hyrum. . . .
Every promise made to my father concerning himself and family were realized during his absence. He with his brethren arrived in Kirtland, May 22nd, 1838, having been absent eleven months and nine days. . . .
Having continued longer than I anticipated I shall now close “Life Incidents,” but not before expressing the gratitude I feel for the privilege of belonging to the unpopular sect called “Mormons.” I never saw the time that I felt more joyful and more willing to bear the stigmas which are heaped upon us than I am today. Jesus and his apostles and saints were also hated, and they suffered a great deal more than the Latter-day Saints, and were finally destroyed from off the earth, but we have no fears of a similar fate, for we know that God has set his hand for the second time and that He will live to fulfil his purposes, and though hundreds may apostatize and join our enemies, they will accomplish nothing but their own ruin for apostates are looked down upon by the Gentiles and despised as traitors always are. The wicked only use them as tools to overthrow the work of the Almighty. It is only those who are weak in the faith that fear and tremble. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth,” and they judge the Latter-day Saints by themselves. The bitterness that is manifested by the world towards this people is the greatest proof to me that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If my homely description of scenes and incidents among the Saints prove beneficial to others, I will feel amply rewarded and can say as the poet, “If I one soul improve I have not lived in vain.”
“SCENES AND INCIDENTS IN NAUVOO”
By Helen Mar Kimball Whitney
The next important event, which I remember in our family, was the birth of my brother, Charles S. [Kimball] which happened January 2nd, 1843. I confess that I was a disappointed and most ungrateful girl when hearing the news, as I had so long desired a little sister and my feelings were so soured that I said some harsh and unbecoming things, and was determined not to welcome the little stranger. I tried to steel my heart against him, but in spite of me the love would come. My mother being in a feeble state of health, I had to take almost the whole care of him during the first year or two. He was very delicate and had some severe spells of sickness and my love and tender care increased with the days and months and I never wearied of my charge. When about two years old, he became strong, healthy and the pride of my heart. The pleasure I felt in dressing and taking him out with me was quite equal to all that I had ever anticipated in a little sister, and even my affection for him surpassed any that I had ever felt for a baby.
Though I have not the date, I remember the birth of another son by my father’s wife Sarah, which happened not far from the time that my mother’s was born. I had no knowledge then of the plural order, and therefore remained ignorant of our relationship to each other until after his death, as he only lived a few months. It’s true I had noticed the great interest taken by my parents in behalf of Sister Noon, but knowing their kind, benevolent natures towards everybody that came under their notice, I thought nothing strange of this, but I will confess that during those times, I thought my mother overly kind to always take her into her buggy and crowding me out of what I considered my place by her side, and I sometimes felt to complain, but unless I was willing to sit behind on a lower seat, I was welcome to walk or remain at home, but, not caring to do either, I generally submitted, as gracefully as possible, to ride behind.
My mother was possessed of a most kind and unselfish nature and her life was filled up with just such noble, self-sacrificing deeds; and by them she won the love of all and among the most devoted were my father’s faithful wives who admired him more because they knew he loved her best and with him they mourned for her as their dearest and most enduring friend.
He was often heard to say that he did not care how soon he followed her, and he lived but nine months to mourn her loss.
The following extracts from letters written by my father while upon his mission with Brigham Young and others in the southern part of Illinois I copy with the hope that some benefit may be derived from the perusal of them, more particularly the young and inexperienced. They show the childlike humility and sincerity of heart, such as none but an honest man could feel and express, and none other would ever take the step that he did, nor continue to endure such heart-aching sorrow as I know he did for the wife of his youth, who with him in that early day yielded obedience to a principle that required life-long sacrifice and self-denial. Their all was laid upon the altar to gain that glory which the Lord had given my mother a slight glimpse of, in answer to her humble heart-broken prayer. “Where there’s no cross, there’s no crown.”
I think that no honest heart can read the outpourings of his soul and ever doubt the motive that prompted him to take upon himself burdens and responsibilities such as himself and brethren were called to do in marrying a plurality of wives, for it did not add to their domestic happiness in this life, but brought not only anxiety, care and sorrow, but placed their lives in jeopardy and they did not know but the consequences would be imprisonment and death, but they knew that it was a command from the Almighty and they obeyed God rather than men.
This letter bears the date of October 23rd, 1843.
Heber_Kimball, ltr 23 Oct 1843 in Helen Whitney, WE 11 (1882):
“My dear Vilate: I am at Brother Evan Greene’s. We have held all of our conferences, have had two meetings, today being the Sabbath. Some have been added to the Church and prejudice is considerably laid. Monday we shall go to Jacksonville, then on to Springfield. I shall be home in two or three weeks if the Lord wills it so. Since I left you it has been a time of much reflection. I feel as though I was a poor, weak creature in and of myself, and only on God can I rely for support. . . . I have been looking back over my past life before I heard the everlasting gospel. It makes me shrink into nothing and to wish that I had always been a righteous man from my youth, but we have an advocate with the Father, and I can look back since I came into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with a degree of pleasure; but I can see if I had more knowledge I could have done better in my points. . . . I feel as though I had rather die today than be left to transgress one of his laws or to bring a disgrace upon the righteous cause which I have embraced, or a stain upon my character; and my prayer is day by day that God would take me to himself rather than I should be left to sin against Him or betray my dear brethren who have been true to me and to God, the Eternal Father. And I feel to pray to thee, oh Lord, to help thy poor servant to be true to thee all the days of my life, that I may never be left to sin against thee, or against thine anointed or any that love thee, that I may have wisdom and knowledge how to gain thy favor at all times, for this is my desire, and that these blessings may rest upon my dear companion and when we have done our work on this thy footstool that thou wouldst receive us into that kingdom where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the holy prophets have gone, that we may never be separated any more, and before I should be left to betray my brethren in any case, let thy servant come unto thee in thy kingdom and there have the love of my youth, and the little ones that thou hast given me. . . .
Now my dear Vilate, stand by me even unto death, and when you pray, pray that I may hold out to the end. . . . My heart aches for you and sometimes I can hardly speak without weeping and that before my brethren, for I have a broken heart and my head is a fountain of tears. My life in this world is short at the longest and I do not desire to live one day only to do good and to make you happy and bring up our little children in the ways of the Lord, and my prayer is that they may be righteous from the least to the greatest. . . The world has lost its charms for me, and I want to seek for that rest which remains for the people of God. I never had a greater desire to be a man of God than at the present, that I may know my acceptance with Him.”
Heber_Kimball, ltr 25 Oct 1843 in Helen Whitney, WE 11 (1882):
His next letter was written from Springfield, October 25th.
“My dear companion: I have just returned from the office where I found a letter from you, and I need not tell you that it was a sweet morsel to me. I could weep like a child if I could get away by myself, to think that I for one moment have been the means of causing you any sorrow. I know that you must have many bad feelings and I feel to pray for you all the time, I assure you that you have not been out of my mind many minutes at a time since I left you. My feelings are of that kind that it makes me sick at heart, so that I have no appetite to eat. My temptations are so [indecipherable] it seems [indecipherable] I should [indecipherable] if I must sink beneath it. I go into the woods every chance I have, and pour out my soul before God that he would deliver me and bless you my dear wife, and the first I would know I would be in tears, weeping like a child about you and the situation that I am in, but what can I do but go ahead?
My dear Vilate, do not let it cast you down for the Lord is on our side; this I know from what I see and realize and I marvel at it many times. You are tried and tempted and I am sorry for you, for I know how to pity you. I can say that I never suffered more in all my life than since these things come to pass; and as I have said, so say I again, I have felt as if I should sink and die. Oh my God! I ask thee in the name of Jesus to bless my dear Vilate and comfort her heart and deliver her from temptation, and from sorrow. Be pleased to look uponthy poor servant and handmaid and grant us the privilege of living the same length of time that one may not go before the other, for thou knowest that we desire this with all our hearts . . . and then Father, when we have done with our career in this probation, in the one to come may we be still joined in one, to remain so to all eternities, and whatever we have done to grieve thee be pleased to blot it out, and let us be clean and pure before thee at all times that we may never be left to sin or betray anyone that believes on thy name. Save us from all this and let our seed be righteous. Incline their hearts to be pure and virtuous and may this extend from generation to generation. Let us have favor in thy sight and before thine angels that we may be watched over by them and have strength and grace to support us in the day of our temptation that we may not be overcome and fall. Now my Father, these are the desires of our hearts and will thou grant them to us for Jesus’ sake and to thy name will we give all the glory forever and forever, amen.”
With all the false traditions in which we were born, and in consequence of the degenerate tide with which the human family has been drifting for generations past, and as the Lord had no organized priesthood on the earth, it is not to be wondered at that in our ignorance of His ways the feelings of our natures should rebel against the doctrine of a plurality of wives. I remember how I felt, but which would be a difficult matter to describe–the various thoughts, fears and temptations that flashed through my mind when the principle was first introduced to me by my father [Heber C. Kimball], who one morning in the summer of 1843, without any preliminaries, asked me if I would believe him if he told me that it was right for married men to take other wives, can be better imagined than told. But suffice it to say the first impulse was anger, for I thought he had only said it to test my virtue, as I had heard that tales of this kind had been published by such characters as the Higbees, Foster and Bennett, but which I supposed were without any foundation. My sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure for to mention such a thing to me I thought altogether unworthy of my father, and as quick as he spoke, I replied to him, short and emphatically, “No, I wouldn’t!” I had always been taught to believe it a heinous crime, improper and unnatural, and I indignantly resented it.
This was the first time that I ever openly manifested anger towards him, but I was somewhat surprised at his countenance, as he seemed rather pleased than otherwise. Then he commenced talking seriously, and reasoned and explained the principle, and why it was again to be established upon the earth, etc., but did not tell me then that anyone had yet practiced it, but left me to reflect upon it for the next twenty-four hours, during which time I was filled with various and conflicting ideas. I was skeptical–one minute believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter, and I knew that he would not cast her off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right. I knew that he loved me too well to teach me anything that was not strictly pure, virtuous and exalting in its tendencies; and no one else could have influenced me at that time or brought me to accept of a doctrine so utterly repugnant and so contrary to all of our former ideas and traditions. This was just previous to his starting upon his last mission but one to the eastern states. Fearing that I might hear it from a wrong source, knowing, as he did, that there were those who would run before they were sent, and some would not hesitate to deceive and betray him and the brethren, he thought it best that I should hear it from his own lips.
The next day the Prophet called at our house, and I sat with my father and mother and heard him teach the principle and explain it more fully, and I believed it, but I had no proofs, only his and my father’s testimony. I thought that sufficient, and did not deem it necessary to seek for any further, but had I been differently situated like many were without a father and a mother to love and counsel me, probably my dependence, like theirs, would have been on the Lord, but I leaned not upon His arm.
My father was my teacher and revelator, and I saw no necessity then for further testimony; but in after years the Lord, in His far-seeing and infinite mercy, suffered me to pass through the rough waves of experience and in sorrow and affliction, I learned that most important lesson, that in Him alone must I trust, and not in weak and sinful man; and that it was absolutely necessary for each one to obtain a living witness and testimony for him or herself, and not for another, to the truth of this latter-day work, to be able to stand, and that like Saul, we “must suffer for His name’s sake.” Then I learned that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” and that “He is nigh unto all those that call upon Him in truth, and healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds.”
In a few days from this, my father started for the eastern states. My baby brother had been very sick and was barely convalescent when he left.
He wrote me from Pittsburg. That was more than forty years ago, and though his letters are now worn and yellow with age, and the fingers that wrote them are laid under the cold and senseless turf, yet the sublime truths, though taught in simple words, will never perish, no, never. And often as I read them, I drop a silent tear and am led to say:
“I owe thee much. Thou hast deserved from me Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.” . . .
“At the next meeting President Joseph Smith was present and addressed the young gentlemen and ladies for some time. He expressed his gratitude to Elder Kimball in the strongest terms, for having commenced and carried on in so masterly a manner the good and glorious work he had undertaken. He said it would be the means of doing a great deal of good and of benefiting his young friends more than they were aware of, that the gratitude of all good men and of the young people whom he had so much benefitted, would follow him through life, and `when gray hairs should his temples adorn’ he could look back with pleasure upon the winter of 1843 when he was engaged in promoting the cause of benevolence and preparing his young friends for the glorious career which awaited them. He said that he stood before them with more embarrassment than he would before kings, nobles and great men of the earth, for he knew the crimes of which they were guilty, and knew precisely how to address them, but his young friends, before whom he now stood, were guilty of none of these crimes, and he hardly knew what to say.
He said he had never in his life seen such a large company of young people assembled together, pay such strict attention, listen with such profound silence and keep such good order as the assembly now before him. He praised their good conduct and taught them how to behave in all places, explained to them their duty and advised them to organize themselves into a society for the relief of the poor. As a commencement to their benevolent efforts, he offered a petition from an English brother by the name of Modesly, who was lame, and who wished them to build him a house that he might have a home among the Saints. He had gathered together a few materials for this purpose, but was unable to use them, and, relying upon the active benevolence of the young people of Nauvoo, he sends in his petition that you may act upon it as you deem proper. He advised them to choose a committee to collect funds for this purpose and perform this charitable work as soon as the weather became suitable. He gave them much good advice to guide their conduct through life and prepare them for a glorious eternity.
He said he was very much pleased with the course Elder Kimball had taken, and hoped he would continue his meetings and that the young people would follow his teachings. A meeting was appointed for the young men to take these things into consideration, but owing to the appointment not being generally circulated, many young gentlemen were not present. The meeting was however called to order. William Cutler was chosen president and Marcellus L. Bates, clerk. Andrew Cahoon, C. V. Spencer and Stephen Perry were appointed as a committee to draft a constitution for the government of the society. After hearing several speeches, the meeting adjourned to the evening of the 28th of March .
At the next public meeting we were addressed by Elders Kimball and Roundy, and as usual, received much good instruction. Elder Kimball advised us to choose our wisest young men as officers of the society and appoint a committee to wait upon the young ladies, as well as gentleman, and obtain their subscription; for, said he, `they are as full of benevolence, and as ready to assist in relieving the poor as are the young gentlemen.’ He also advised that no one be excluded from the society of whatever sect or denomination he might be, but give everyone an opportunity of doing all the good in their power.
On this evening the storm was raging tremendously and the cold north wind was blowing in a most searching manner; yet, contrary to the expectations of everyone, the house was almost filled, not only with young men and boys, but with the tender, lovely and beautiful females of our city. They seemed determined to brave every extremity of the weather, rather than be absent from the place where they received such good instructions.
This showed the good effects which had already been produced by these meetings, and cheered on the spirits of him who had just commenced them, and had since been their chief promoter. Instead of the young people spending their evenings at parties, balls, etc., they would now leave all and attend to their meetings. Instead of hearing about this party and that party, this dance and that dance, in different parts of the city, their name was scarcely mentioned and the young people’s meetings became the chief topic of conversation.
Pursuant to adjournment, the young men convened together on the 21st of March . The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved and the same officers appointed to preside as on the former evening. The report of the committee was then called for, which was as follows:
Whereas, the young gentlemen and ladies, citizens of the city of Nauvoo, are desirous of aiding and ameliorating the condition of the poor and of carrying out the principles of charity and benevolence, as taught in the holy scriptures, thereof be it,
Resolved, That we form ourselves into a society to be styled the `Young Gentlemen and Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo,’ and that we be governed by the following articles, to-wit:
1st. There shall annually be elected by the society on the last Tuesday in March, a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
2nd. It shall be the duty of the president to preside over all meetings of the society.
3rd. It shall be the duty of the vice president to preside over all meetings in the absence of the president.
It shall be the duty of the treasurer to receive all funds of the society, and to keep a correct record of all the receipts and disbursements, also from whom received, and to whose benefit appropriated, and make a report of the same, as often as required by the society.
4th. It shall furthermore be the duty of the said treasurer, before entering into office, to give bonds to the amount of one thousand dollars to the society, for the faithful discharge of all duties incumbent upon him, which shall be lodged in the hands of the trustee in trust.
5th. It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep a record of all the proceedings of the society.
6th. There shall annually be chosen a committee of vigilance, consisting of five persons, whose duties it shall be to search out the poor of our city, and make known to the society the wants of those whom they, in their judgment, shall consider most deserving of our assistance.
7th. The society shall meet on the last Tuesday in each month, at 6 o’clock p.m.
8th. A special meeting of the society can be called by a petition of twelve of the members to the secretary, whose duty it shall be to give notice of the same, by posting up a written notice in at least three of the most public places in the city, at least three days previous to said meeting.
9th. This constitution shall be lodged in the hands of the secretary, whose duty it shall be to present it at each meeting of the society, and receive the names of all persons wishing to become members, under thirty years of age, who can sustain a good moral character and who are willing to support this constitution.
10th. Any person being a member of this society, and being found guilty of any disorderly conduct or refusing to comply with the rules of the society, can be expelled at any regular meeting of the same, by a vote of the majority of the members present.
11th. In the event of a removal by death or prolonged absence of either of the officers, it shall be the prerogative of the society to appoint another in his stead.
12th. This constitution shall be subject to an amendment at any regular meeting of the society, by the voice of two-thirds of the members present.”
This report was unanimously adopted, and the meeting then proceeded to choose their officers. William Walker was chosen president, William Cutler, vice president, Lorin Walker, treasurer, and James M. Monroe, secretary. Stephen Perry, Marcellus L. Bates, R. A. Alred, William H. Kimball and Garet Ivans were appointed as a committee of vigilance. After some discussion the meeting adjourned until the next Tuesday evening.
At the next public meeting, the large and crowded assembly was addressed at considerable length by Elders Jedidiah M. Grant, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball. The addresses were very interesting and highly instructive, as the breathless silence and deep attention of the audience attested.
This is, in short, a history of this society, which bids fair to be one of the most useful and benevolent societies in the union. Throughout all of the meetings, the profound silence and the best of order was kept up continually. If the youth throughout our land would follow this good example and form themselves into such societies, there would be much less sin, iniquity, misery and degradation among the young people than there is at the present day. There would not be as many suffering poor, neither would there be as much immorality among the people. But on the contrary, peace, good order, happiness, cheerfulness and plenty would reign in the land, the Lord would look down from his holy habitation and smile upon us and bless us all.”
I. M. Monroe, Secretary.
The scenes in Nauvoo during the summer of 1843 were of an exciting nature, and continued on with but little cessation until the Prophet and Patriarch were murdered in a boasted land of religious liberty and their people forced by mob-law to seek safety among savages.
I remember the morning that Joseph and family left the city to visit his sister-in-law near Dixon, in Lee County, he called in as he was passing to bid us good bye and the first news that we heard was the unlawful arrest made by Missourians, intending to drag him off into that state, but their brutal conduct roused the indignation of the people at Dixon and by a writ of habeas corpus served by his friends, he was placed under the arm of the law. The news spread so rapidly that a company of horsemen numbering 175, started the same evening under the command of Generals William Law and Charles C. Rich. The officers from Missouri had laid their plans to kidnap Joseph while on the journey but his brethren guarded him too closely and they arrived home in safety June 30th , where they were met on the outskirts by a great multitude of the Saints who, with William Pitts brass band and loud cheers and firing of artillery, escorted him to the mansion.
A meeting had been previously appointed at 5 o’clock the same day in the grove west of the temple, where he delivered a speech which can be duly appreciated at this present time.
“I meet you with a heart full of gratitude to Almighty God and I presume you all feel the same. I hardly know how to express my feelings. I feel as strong as a giant. I pulled sticks with the men coming along, and I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up. And I continued to pull, mentally, until I pulled Missouri to Nauvoo. . .
It is not so much my object to tell my afflictions and trials and troubles, as to speak of the writ of habeas corpus so that the minds of all may be corrected. It has been asserted by the great and wise men, lawyers and others, that our municipal powers and legal tribunals are not to be sanctioned by the authorities of the state, and accordingly, they want to make it lawful to drag away innocent men from their families and friends and have them put to death by ungodly men for their religion. Relative to our city charter, courts, rights of habeas corpus, etc., I wish you to know and publish that we have all power, and if any man from this time forth says anything to the contrary, cast it into his teeth.
There is a secret in this. If there is not power in our charter and courts, then there is not power in the state of Illinois, nor in the Congress or Constitution of the United States, for the United States gives unto Illinois her constitution or charter and Illinois gave unto Nauvoo her charter, ceding unto us our vested rights, which she has no right nor power to take from us. All the power there was in Illinois she gave to Nauvoo. I want you to hear and learn, O Israel, this day, what is for the happiness and peace of this city and people. If our enemies are determined to oppress us and deprive us of our constitutional rights and privileges as they have done, and if the authorities that are on the earth will not sustain us in our rights, nor give us that protection which the laws and constitution of the United States and of this state guaranteed unto us, then we will claim them from a higher power, from heaven, yea, from God Almighty. Before I will bear this unhallowed persecution any longer, before I will be dragged away again among my enemies for trial, I will spill the last drop of blood in my veins. To bear it any longer would be a sin.
It did my soul good to see your feelings and love manifested towards me. I thank God that I have the honor to lead so virtuous and honest a people, to be your leader and lawyer as was Moses to the children of Israel. Hosannah to Almighty God, who has delivered us thus from out of the seven troubles. I commend you to his grace and may the blessings of heaven rest upon you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
He was proven to be innocent and was once more freed from the Missourians, but they were determined not to give up and pretended that the authorities of Nauvoo had rescued a prisoner from justice, but confident that his friends would resist every attempt on their part to arrest him, Governor Reynolds of Missouri applied to Governor Ford of Illinois, requesting him to compel our people to deliver up the Prophet by calling out a force of militia for this purpose, which request Governor Ford politely refused to grant.
Our city was occasionally visited by Lamanites and a deputation of Pottawatamie chiefs were in the city waiting to see Joseph when he returned from Dixon and as soon as consistent after the trial was over he received them.
After being assured that all present were friends to Joseph, their orator arose and said, (it being interpreted): “We as a people have long been distressed and oppressed. We have been driven from our lands many times. We have been wasted away by wars, until there are but few of us left. The white man has hated us and shed our blood, until it has appeared as though there would soon be no Indian left. We have talked with the Great Spirit and the Great Spirit has talked with us. We have asked the Great Spirit to save us and let us live and the Great Spirit has told us that you are the man (pointing to the Prophet). We have now come a great way to see you and hear your words, and to have you tell us what to do. Our horses have become poor traveling and we are hungry. We will now wait and hear your words.”
Joseph was considerably affected, so much so that he wept. He said in return: “I have heard your words. They are true! The Great Spirit has told you the truth. I am your friend and brother, and I wish to do you good. Your fathers were once a great people. They worshiped the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit did them good. He was their friend, but they left the Great Spirit and would not hear his words nor keep them. The Great Spirit left them, and they began to kill one another, and they have been poor and afflicted until now.
The Great Spirit has given me a book, and told me that you will soon be blessed again. The Great Spirit will soon begin to talk with you and your children.”
Raising the Book of Mormon, he said, “This is the book which your fathers made. I wrote upon it. This tells me what you will have to do. I now want you to begin to pray to the Great Spirit. I want you to make peace with one another, and do not kill white men; it is not good, but ask the Great Spirit for what you want. And it will not be long before the Great Spirit will bless you, and you will cultivate the earth, and build good houses like white men. We will give you something to eat and to take home with you.”
The Prophet had an ox killed for them, and some horses were also prepared for them.
They remembered the kindness of Joseph and his people and when driven from our homes they made us welcome upon their land, where we were obliged to make our Winter Quarters.
We have certainly seen the fulfillment of the Prophet’s words concerning the red man, cultivating the earth and building houses, as well as other predictions, and are satisfied that all will be fulfilled.
The following is from an address delivered by the Prophet at the grove, on Sunday, July 8, 1844.
“The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a `Mormon,’ I am bold to declare that before heaven, that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist or a good man of any other denomination, for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics or of any other denomination that may be unpopular and too weak to defend itself.
It is the love of liberty which inspires my soul–civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. Love of liberty was diffused into my soul by my grandfathers, while they dandled me on their knees. One of the grand fundamental principles of `Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come whence it may. If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.”
On the following Sabbath he preached, and I presume that hundreds are still living who will recollect these incidents.
He said: “Let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven out of it. Where this people are, there is good society. What do we care where we are, if the society be good?”
At another time he said, “I defy all the world to destroy the work of God, and I prophesy they never will have power to kill me until my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die . . . I proclaim in the name of the Lord God Almighty, that I will fellowship nothing in the Church but virtue, integrity and uprightness.”
That same spirit which governed the Prophet and his people then, controls and keeps them together today and let our enemies continue to persecute and threaten as they may, they cannot hinder freedom of thought, nor prevent our making for ourselves a paradise on earth, nor from securing our passport to heaven, no matter where our lot may be cast, we can all make one of ourselves, and as Joseph said, “defy all the world to help it” or “to destroy the work of God,” or any of his servants until their “work is accomplished,” then they, like Joseph, will be “ready to die.”
The Missourians, with all their cruelties and whippings, could not crush out nor subdue that spirit, nor make a “Mormon” feel that he was conquered and this was what made them so angry.
Our circumstances, since then, have reversed, through the goodness of our Heavenly Father we have gained a foothold in these mountains and can now sit “under our own vine and fig tree,” and shall “hold the fort,” God helping us.
One member of our household I have omitted to mention, a young lady (a native of the East Indies) who obeyed the gospel in England, and emigrated with a company of Saints to Nauvoo. Her mother was an East India lady of rank and her father a distinguished English officer. Her name was Eliza Monroe, an only child, who had been accustomed to having wealth and slaves at her command, until after she had reached her teens, and her mother was taken from her by death, when her father returned to England, taking her with him and in a few years married a proud English lady. Eliza was what might be called one of nature’s noble ladies. She was a brunette, slender and full of grace and refinement, with none of the proud and haughty airs of an aristocrat, which is assumed by so many whom dame fortune has raised from the lower ranks, as if afraid of not being recognized as such, but which is a positive and unmistakable sign of ignorance and arrogance. She was never happy with her stepmother. Their natures and customs were so opposite to each other; there was no sympathy between them. She was constantly criticized as well as reproved for being too condescending to inferiors, and too familiar with the servants, because she would go among them and treat them with courtesy, as she had been accustomed to do in her native land. When her ears were saluted with the everlasting gospel, she received and obeyed its mandates, and she had no misgivings nor regrets at leaving her home in England and following the Saints to America. She was poor and penniless and had no knowledge of any kind of housework, and feeling her inability to pay her way, she was unwilling to sit idle and would ask the privilege of helping about the house, but her help was only a hindrance and father [Heber C. Kimball], seeing how she felt, bethought himself of his history which he asked her to copy. This pleased her, as she could write a fine hand, besides it being an agreeable employment.
He admired her about the house because she was so quiet and lady-like, and spoke of it repeatedly, that he would not know of her presence if he did not see her, a compliment seldom paid to a lady. I still have a neck ribbon which she presented me, made by the natives, from the bark of a tree in India which they call a silk tree. After a little time she [Eliza Monroe] took a school of young ladies near my own age and taught during the summer, when she was unfortunate enough to marry a shiftless young man who came from England and was incapable of providing for her. Soon after he denied the faith and in the time of our trouble, left for St. Louis. While stopping at Winter Quarters, some of the brethren being sent down to St. Louis to purchase goods, she wrote and sent by them some little tokens of remembrance to my mother and myself. She was still strong in the faith but in poor circumstances.
Among a package of my father’s [Heber C. Kimball’s] papers lately found was the following letter of commendation, received from the Prophet, and signed by his hand, June 1843, which will explain the object of his mission east.
“To all Saints and honorable men of the earth, greeting:
Dear brethren and friends: I, Joseph Smith, a servant of the Lord and trustee-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby certify that the bearer hereof, Heber C. Kimball, an elder and one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has deposited with me his bond and security to my full satisfaction, according to the resolution of the conference held in this city on the 6th day of April last. He therefore is recommended to all Saints and honorable people as a legal agent to collect funds for the purpose of building the Nauvoo House and temple of the Lord, confident that he will honor this high trust, as well as ardently fulfil his commission as a messenger of peace and salvation, as one of the Lord’s noblemen, I can fervently say may the Lord clear his way before him and bless him and bless those that obey his teachings, whenever there are ears to hear and hearts to feel.
He is in the language of the hebrews (Haura-ang-yeesh-rau-ale). The friend of Israel, and worthy to be received and entertained as a man of God; yea, he has, as had the ancient apostles (O logos o kalo) the good word, even the good word that leadeth unto eternal life. Laus Deus. Praise God. Wherefore brethren! and friends, while you have the assurance of the integrity, fidelity, and ability of this servant of the living God, trusting that your hearts and energies will be enlivened, and deeply engaged in the building of these houses, directed by revelation for the salvation of all Saints, and that you will not rest where you are, until all things are prepared before you, and you are gathered home with the rest of Israel to meet your God, I feel strong in the belief and have a growing expectation that you will not withhold any means in your power that can be used to accomplish this glorious work.
Finally as one that greatly desires the salvation of man, let me remind you all to strive with a godly zeal, for virtue, holiness and the commandments of the Lord. Be good, be wise, be just, be liberal and above all, be charitable always, abounding in good works. And may health, peace and the love of God our Father, and the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord be and abide with you all, is the sincere prayer of your devoted brother and friend in the everlasting gospel,
City of Nauvoo, June 1st, 1843.
(The Hebrew I have omitted giving only the interpretation.) . . .
During the summer, we had (as was usual) much sickness in the city. My mother and babe, and all the rest of us were sick in the early part of the season. . . .
They arrived home in safety in the latter part of October, finding us all well. In the meantime, my Uncle William Murray had arrived with his family at Nauvoo, which was a great source of joy to both brother and sister whose happiness for a time seemed complete. He was the only one that ever received the gospel on either side, and when the welcome tidings came that he had listened to the sound of the gospel and obeyed it, my mother could hardly believe it, and was almost overcome with joy. Like every true Saint, the moment he received the true gospel, he could not content himself to remain with unbelievers. The people of God and those of the world are in opposition to each other. Christ has no fellowship with Belial.
How gross is the darkness that covers the minds of the people who are fighting against the principles of salvation. No one actuated by the spirit of God would do this or speak against his servants, but would be attended by the Holy Ghost, which would give them faith and reveal to them the power of God unto salvation; but which without faith, is impossible. We read that “the just shall live by faith,” and that “faith without works is dead.” We can understand the things of God only by the spirit and power of God. The revelations of Joseph Smith can never save others, unless they receive revelation from heaven of their truth, and they must seek for it in order to obtain it. Those who are too careless and slothful to read or to “search and believe in me, not in man,” as Jesus said for, “who leans on him leans on a broken reed,” will be left as many others have to stumble even at noonday. The sorrows and privations and all the persecutions endured by the Saints of God are light, when compared with the punishment of a guilty conscience and this is the punishment that awaits, not only those who persecute his people, but the ones who are too indolent to make inquiries for themselves, or to forego the momentary and fleeting pleasures of today, in the vain hope of gaining a little worldly pomp and praise. Here, we are as strangers in a strange land, and those who are too proud or obstinate to look up and read the directions so plainly written upon the guide board, which has been set by a Father’s loving hand, that his children may not miss the track and be lost in the darkness, or refuse to listen to his servants who are crying, “Come out of her my people, and be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues,” because He in his wisdom has chosen the meek of the earth who will do his bidding, being poor and unpopular in the world, renounce them as impostors, persecute and destroy them, will see their mistake when too late to retrace their steps and will have to pass through another probation.
Among the many pleasing incidents within my recollection was the [undecipherable] boat loaded with English who were obliged to leave the steamer at Keokuk in consequence of low water. They were singing the sweet songs of Zion as they came up the river at the close of the day and landed near the Prophet’s house, where stood scores of the Saints. Also many outsiders had gathered there and Joseph too, who welcomed them to Zion.
At another time the “Maid of Iowa,” in command of Captain Dan Jones, brought a company of two hundred and fifty Saints from New Orleans, who after unlooked for circumstances, causing a tedious journey of five weeks, arrived safely at Nauvoo, where Joseph and hundreds of the Saints were on the shore waiting to greet them with a warm and hearty welcome. A short but interesting account of their eventful voyage was given by Sister Priscilla M. Staines, in the “Women of Mormondom.” She was one of the passengers and happened to be an instrument in the hands of Providence to give the alarm of fire, or the boat would soon have been in flames. This was at Memphis, Tennessee. Some villain placed a half consumed cigar under a straw mattress, and other bedding that had been laid out of the ladies cabin to air. They were mobbed and insulted at nearly every place where they stopped by the citizens along the river. They were not persecuted for polygamy–it was not upon those grounds that mobs collected and threw “stones through the cabin windows, smashing the glass and sash and jeopardizing the lives of the passengers,” for they had not heard of polygamy being practiced by the “Mormons” but they were treated more barbarously than foreign emigrants are treated today. So we know that polygamy is only an excuse and a most flimsy one too. This was their first experience in America, our boasted land of liberty–a refuge and home for the oppressed of all nations. Mobbing peaceful emigrants for nothing else, only that they were “Mormons.”
During the winter of 1843, there were plenty of parties and balls, and many were held at the mansion. The last one that I attended there that winter was on Christmas Eve. Some of the young gentlemen got up a series of dancing parties to be held at the mansion once a week. My brother William put his name down before asking father’s permission, and when questioned about it made him believe that he must pay the money for himself and the lady, whether he went or not, and that he could not honorably withdraw from it. He carried the day, but I had to stay at home, as my father had been warned by the Prophet to keep his daughter away from there, because of the blacklegs and certain ones of questionable character who attended there. His wife Emma had become the ruling spirit and money had become her God. I did not betray William, but I felt quite sore over it, and thought it a very unkind act in father to allow him to go and enjoy the dance unrestrained with others of my companions, and fetter me down, for no girl loved dancing better than I did and I really felt that it was too much to bear. It made the dull school still more dull and like a wild bird, I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself a much abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur. I imagined that my happiness was all over and brooded over the sad memories of sweet departed joys and all manner of future woes, which (by the by) were of short duration, my bump of hope being too large to admit of my remaining long under the clouds. Besides my father was very kind and indulgent in other ways, and always took me with him when mother could not go, and it was not a very long time before I became satisfied that I was blessed in being under the control of so good and wise a parent who had taken counsel and thus saved me from evils, which some others in their youth and inexperience were exposed to though they thought no evil. Yet the busy tongue of scandal did not spare them.
A moral may be drawn from this truthful story. “Children obey thy parents,” etc. And also, “Have regard to thy name, for that shall continue with you above a thousand great treasures of gold.” “A good life hath but few days; but a good name endureth forever.”
The first New Year’s eve after the Prophet moved into the mansion, our choir, under the leadership of Stephen Goddard, to which I became a member some time previous, gave them a serenade.
We met at our usual place of practice, on the hill near the temple, and although the night was unfavorable, being dark and rainy, we, nothing daunted, started out between twelve and one o’clock, we struck up and sang the New Year’s hymn. The inmates were highly gratified and the Prophet came out and invited us to come in; but being late, we declined. After singing one or two anthems he pronounced his blessing upon the orchestra and choir, which repaid the brethren and sisters for all their trouble.
William Cahoon, John Pack, Stephen Hale and wives, William Pitt, William Clayton, Jacob Hutchinson, James Standing and many more, too numerous to mention, were members of the choir and most of the brethren belonged to William Pitt’s brass band. We enjoyed together many happy seasons, though of short duration.
Our music hall was built one block east of the temple but was not finished until after the death of the Prophet. Previous to that we held an occasional concert in the Masonic Hall which, according to history, was considered “the most substantial and best finished Masonic Temple in the western states.”
We were not wanting for amusements, even in the midst of some of the most trying scenes. The Latter-day Saints seldom drooped or pined for their “Leeks and Onions,” but adapted themselves to circumstances with an excellent grace.
Our first dramatic entertainments were given in the Nauvoo Masonic Hall in the spring of 1844, under the direction of Thomas A. Lyne and George J. Adams, the latter claiming Heber C. Kimball as his father in the gospel, took up his abode with us whenever he came to our city, was there during the summer of 1843, at which time my father being absent upon a mission, made it rather hard for my mother to get along, as I went to school and she was obliged to hire a woman to do the work, her own health being very poor and her baby sick, which he did not seem to realize as he never offered any recompense.
In the spring of 1844, during the dramatic season, he with his wife and sister stayed with us, but my father was at home which made quite a difference. I was just at the age to enjoy such amusements, which made time pass very agreeably. Miss Adams was a fine young lady and very gifted as an actress, in fact was quite a star, though a new beginner like all the rest, with the exception of Lyne, he spent much of his time at our house, as they were old friends, and he was a “Mormon.” Mrs. Adams was a dignified and quite a distinguished looking woman, and made a fine appearance upon the stage, but she played only one night–took the part of the countess in the “Orphan of Geneva,” and thought herself so disguised that no one would recognize her, but when she found that she was known she could not be prevailed upon to go on again, and as the play was to be repeated the next night, they were in a terrible dilemma, not knowing what to do as we had returned home, and it was then near midnight. One of them proposed my taking the part (Adams or Lyne), and the women and all set in flattering and teasing me to take it. But I was a timid girl of fifteen and frightfully bashful, and the idea of taking so dignified a part was to my mind utterly absurd, having only been upon the stage in two plays, first as one of the virgins in “Pizarro,” and another simple part, but all my excuses were useless and I was fairly pressed into service.
Adams said encouragingly, “I’ll help you out,” and as Lyne was leaving he said, “Now study the part over good tonight and then retire and sleep on it, and you’ll nearly know it in the morning,” which direction I followed, and having a quick memory was able to repeat every word at the rehearsal, but when before an audience I was so frightened that I remembered very little. My wits nearly deserted me, but Adams was true to his promise and by his readiness assisted me to recover from my confusion. Though he was never up in his own part, he was never at a loss for a substitute in every emergency, but which was anything but pleasing to those who depended upon him for their cue. He was a very good actor, and J. Hatch, a young lawyer, uncle to President Abram Hatch of Heber City, was also good as well as Amasa Lyman and W. H. Folsom and others. But no part in “Pizarro” was better played than was the priest by Brigham Young. There was some good acting done–some so life-like that at times nearly the whole audience would be affected to tears. Joseph [Smith] did not try to hide his feelings, but was seen to weep a number of times. Among our best comedians was Hiram B. Clawson, who I think was the youngest of the boys. That was forty years ago, and the scenes have been changing until but few are now left who took part in the first dramatic entertainments held in our beautiful city in 1845.
On the 11th of May  following, my brother William H. and Mary Davenport were joined in wedlock by father at the house of Winsor P. Lyons, and on the 13th he brought her home to live with us.
On the 17th [May 1844], a national convention was held, Joseph being candidate for the presidency. A great deal of enthusiasm was manifested by the people, which was not confined to our cities, but according to history, twenty-seven states were represented. My father and others of the apostles were appointed to go east to electioneer for General Joseph Smith.
By some it may be thought an excess of sentiment in me to publish extracts from so many of my parents’ letters, and I will here just say that I have not done so for the mere pleasure of rehearsing them, for I felt a delicacy in so doing and had it not been for the urgent request of others who expressed their pleasure in reading them, I should have ceased long since.
The correspondence from May 21st until June 30th, 1844, contains some interesting items, which will no doubt be read with unusual interest at this peculiar period of our history.
It was understood before my father left for the east that my mother should accompany George J. Adams to Philadelphia where she was to meet him, and that I should go too, if sufficient means could be procured. We were to start by the 2st of July. My mother, William and myself accompanied father to the steamer and remained on board until it started. When we parted he said to me, “Come with your ma if you can, but I beg you not to stand in the way of her coming but do all you can to help her off.” I had a great desire to go back and make a visit. Besides, I wanted to see something of the world and my feelings were sorely tried, as well as my weak faith. In fact, I was considerably disaffected and like many of our youth in these valleys, I imagined that all was fair and beautiful without, and that there my days would be one round of pleasures. At all events, I was bound to go whenever my mother went. She was feeble in health and one or more of the little boys were sick and withal there seemed an unusual gloom, or foreboding of something, they knew not what. . . .
A letter commenced by my mother [Vilate Kimball] June 7,  (the same day that father wrote the above,) describes the scenes that were transpiring in Nauvoo. She says:
“Nauvoo was never so lonesome since we lived here as it is now. I went to meeting last Sunday for the first time since conference. I should have turned and come home on foot if I had not been afraid it would make me sick. Neither Joseph, Hyrum, nor any of the Twelve were there, and you may be assured that I was glad when meeting was over. Brother Joseph Nobles is very kind to me, knowing that I am not able to walk, he has invited me to ride with his folks several times. Yesterday he took his wife and me down to Hibbard’s after cherries. He took us to see Sarah (my father’s wife), who has been quite sick. I urged her to come home with me, but she said she would rather wait until she felt better. I expect her this week.
The weather continues cold and wet. Bishop Whitney called in today, said he’d been talking with Dr. Bernhisel. He thought the quorum had better meet and pray for the rain to be stayed, or we would all be sick.
June 11th. Nauvoo was a scene of excitement last night. Some hundreds of the brethren turned out and burned the printing press of the opposite party. This was done by order of the City Council. They had only published one paper (Nauvoo Expositor) which is considered a public nuisance. They have sworn vengeance, and no doubt they will have it.”
My dear husband,
Since I commenced this letter varied and exciting indeed have been the scenes in this city. I would have sent this to you before this time, but I have been thrown into such confusion I know not what to write. Nor is this all. The mails do not come regularly, having been stopped by high water or the flood of mobocracy which pervades the country. I have received no letter by mail from you since you left. I know your anxiety to hear from us must be very great, as you will no doubt hear of our trouble by report. Nothing is to be heard of but mobs collecting on every side. The Laws and Fosters and most of the dissenting party, with their families, left here a day or two since. They are sworn to have Joseph and the City Council, or to exterminate us all. Between three and four thousand brethren have been under arms here the past week, expecting every day the mob would come upon us. The brethren from the country are coming in to aid in the defense of our city. Brother Joseph sent a message to the governor, signifying if he and his staff would come into the city he would abide their decision; but instead of the governor coming here, he went to Carthage, and there walked arm in arm with Law and Foster until we have reason to fear he has caught their spirit. He sent thirty men here day before yesterday to arrest Brother Joseph with an abusive letter, saying if thirty men cannot do the business thousands can, ordering the brethren who had been ordered out to defend the city against the mob to deliver up their arms to their men and then disperse.
Yesterday morning (although it was Sunday) was a time of great excitement. Joseph had fled and left word for the brethren to hang on to their arms and defend themselves as best they could. Some were dreadfully tried in their faith to think Joseph should leave them in the hour of danger. Hundreds have left the city, most of the merchants on the hill have left. I have not felt frightened, neither has my heart sunk within me until yesterday, when I heard Joseph had sent word back for his family to follow him, and Brother Whitney’s family were packing up, not knowing what but they would have to go, as he is one of the City Council. For a while I felt sad enough, but did not let anybody know it, neither did I shed any tears. I felt a confidence in the Lord that He would preserve us from the ravages of our enemies. We expected them here today by the thousands, but before night yesterday things put on a different aspect, Joseph returned and gave himself up for trial. He sent a messenger to Carthage to tell the governor he would meet him and his staff at the big mound at eight o’clock this morning, with all that the writ demanded. They have just passed here to meet the governor for that purpose. My heart said, Lord bless those dear men and preserve them from those that thirst for their blood. What will be their fate the Lord only knows, but I trust He’ll spare them. The governor wrote that if they did not give themselves up, our city was suspended upon so many kegs of powder, and it needed only one spark to touch them off. If you were here you would be sure to be in their midst, which would increase my anxiety.
Now, I must tell you the fluctuation of my mind about going to meet you. Brother Adams told me a week ago that he, having been detained so long here, had concluded to take his wife with him; said if Helen and I would go with them, he would agree to take us to you. He had no money, but he was acquainted with the captains of the different boats, and could go to Cincinnati without money. There he could get what he wanted. He calculated then to be here last Friday and stay until tomorrow, when we were to start on the Ospry. I saw no prospect of going unless I took up with his offer. I asked counsel of Bishop Whitney and others. They all advised me to go, so I went to making ready with all possible speed. But it was only three days before I heard they were going to write for all the Twelve to come immediately home. I saw Joseph [Smith] passing by and went out and asked him if it was so. He said, yes; there was a prospect of trouble, and said you were wanted here and you would want to be here. He also said you had promised to return immediately and fetch him some money. I felt so disappointed that I could not help shedding a few tears over it.
Brother Willard Richards soon came along and told me to cheer up, that he did not apprehend any danger, and said, `Hold on a few days, we shall not write quite yet at any rate.’ So I took courage again, only to meet another disappointment. He called Friday and told me he had just dispatched a messenger with letters to all the Twelve to come immediately and fetch all the force with them that they could raise. This messenger was to take the first boat and go to St. Louis before he mailed them, as it is of no use to mail them here. I knew nothing to the contrary until Saturday evening, when Brother Adams told me that all was counteracted and they had concluded not to send for you, and said, `Perhaps we shall go yet.’ That is the last that I’ve seen of him. He preached here yesterday and started for home last evening. I understand he has been appointed for another mission. So I see no prospect of going east at present. . . . I can only say, may the Lord God bless and preserve us all to meet again. I believe He will. The children all send love and good wishes to their dear father. Justin Johnson will take this over the river and mail it for me, so I will bid you farewell.
There seemed an overruling providence in the Apostles being away at the time of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, for the time had come for them to seal their testimony with their blood. If the Twelve had been there, they would never have permitted them to recross the river into Illinois, much less to be given up, as they were, quietly and without a struggle into the hands of a bloodthirsty mob. The news of their death fell like a thunderbolt upon the Saints and sped like wildfire throughout the land, and a terrible fear took possession of the people. Believing that the “Mormons” would seek revenge, many of them fled from the county.
President Brigham Young and Orson Pratt were at Salem, New Hampshire when the rumor first met them. They went to Peterboro, where they heard it confirmed by a letter from Nauvoo, written by a Mr. Powers, giving particulars of their assassination. They started immediately for Boston to meet my father and Wilford Woodruff, who had also heard the dreadful news. A council was then held relative to their return to Nauvoo. They felt that the Saints were as sheep without a shepherd. Brigham and father waited there one week for Apostle Lyman Wight. As soon as he arrived, they started for home, Brothers Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt and Wilford Woodruff joining them at Albany. They arrived at Nauvoo on the 6th day of August, 1844.
As is well known, Sidney Rigdon, who had shirked his duties and moved with his family to Pittsburgh some time previous to Joseph’s death, took advantage of the absence of the majority of the Twelve to hasten to Nauvoo to lay claim to the guardianship of the Church, claiming to have had a vision from the Lord concerning them, which he related at his first appearance before a congregation of the Saints, saying that he was the identical man whom the Prophets had sung about, wrote about, and rejoiced over in every preceding generation, etc.
Elder Parley P. Pratt remarked, “I am the identical man the Prophets never sung nor wrote a word about.” I was one of the listeners, and I think that very few of the Saints felt that Sidney Rigdon, who had deserted his post when Joseph stood most in need of him, was “the man whom the Lord had called” for a shepherd to lead His sheep, in this the saddest and darkest hour of their experience.
A day was appointed by [William] Marks, the president of the stake, for a special conference to choose a guardian. Brothers Willard Richards, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor and George A. Smith were opposed to this hasty step, and the former counseled the Saints not to be in a hurry, but to wait until the Twelve Apostles returned, and “ask wisdom of God.” Elder Rigdon evaded these men, as if unwilling to come in contact with them, until he was forced to meet them in council. He was a very excitable man, and upon this occasion he paced the room as he gave utterance to the following: “Gentlemen, you are used up; gentlemen, you are divided, the anti-Mormons have got you; the brethren are voting every way, some for James, some for Deming, some for Coulson, and some for Bedill. The anti-Mormons have got you; you can’t stay in the country; everything is in confusion; you can do nothing. You lack a great leader; you want a head; and unless you unite upon that head, you’re blown to the four winds. The anti-Mormons will carry the election; a guardian must be appointed.”
There was no division among the brethren, as Brother George A. Smith there assured them, and that Elder Rigdon was entirely mistaken, saying, “The election would be unanimous, and the friends of law and order will be elected by a thousand majority. There is no occasion to be alarmed. Brother Rigdon is inspiring fears there are no grounds for.”
The second day after the apostles’ return to Nauvoo, President Brigham Young called a special conference to give Elder Rigdon the opportunity to lay his claims before the Church. Meetings were then held in a grove some little distance east of the temple, where a great multitude gathered together, for this day was to decide who was to “lead Israel,” Sidney Rigdon or the Twelve Apostles. That was a day never to be forgotten. I was among the number that was obliged to stand, it being impossible for half of the congregation to be seated. Mr. Hatch, a young lawyer, whom I had formed acquaintance with at our theater the spring previous, stood by me. We had been on pleasant terms, but lately he had turned Rigdonite, and frequently during that long harangue, he spoke in defense and praise of the speaker, and tried to convince me that he was the right man to lead the Church. He very quickly learned my feelings, and how offensive he had made himself. My father was seated there with Brigham and the rest of the Apostles, and I became very indignant, and quite a war of words ensued, neither of us (of course) yielding the point. Not long after this he married one of Rigdon’s daughters, which proved to be the only loadstone that attracted him in that direction.
At 2 p.m., [8 August 1844] the congregation again convened to hear President Brigham Young. He asked them the following questions in behalf of the Twelve and the people. . . . “Inasmuch as our Prophet and Patriarch are taken from our midst, do you want someone to guard, to guide and lead you through this world into the kingdom of God, or not? All who want some person to be a guardian or a prophet, a spokesman, or something else, signify it by raising the right hand.” (No votes.) He said, “If any man thinks he has influence among this people, to lead away a party, let him try it, and he will find out that there is power with the Apostles, which will carry them off victorious through all the world, and build up and defend the Church and kingdom of God. . . . Brother Rigdon has come 1,600 miles to tell you what he wants to do for you. If the people want Brother Rigdon to lead them, they may have him, but I say unto you, the Twelve have the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world.”
“The Twelve are pointed out by the finger of God. Here is Brigham, have his knees ever faltered? Have his lips ever quivered? Here is Heber and the rest of the Twelve, an independent body, who have the keys of the priesthood, the keys of the kingdom of God to deliver to all the world. This is true, so help me God! They stand next to Joseph and are as the first presidency of the Church. I do not know whether my enemies will take my life or not, and I do not care, for I want to be with the man I love.” . . .
“Brother Joseph, the prophet, has laid the foundation of a great work, and we will build upon it. . . . There is an almighty foundation laid, and we can build a kingdom such as there never was in the world; we can build a kingdom faster than Satan can kill the Saints off.”
I merely copy these few paragraphs to show whether the keys of the kingdom were held by the Twelve Apostles or by Sidney Rigdon. The latter, sorely feeling his discomfiture, returned immediately to Pittsburgh, and the work that he accomplished is a matter of history, but unworthy of further notice here.
It was thought by anti-Mormons that with Joseph Smith’s death, “Mormonism” would cease to have a being. Those apostates said, “Their damnation is sealed; their die is cast; their doom is fixed.” But Brigham said, “There is an almighty foundation laid, and . . . we can build a kingdom faster than Satan can kill the Saints off.” We are able to testify that his words have not failed–no one can deny their fulfillment. Our enemies were blinded and did not see that “the blood of the Prophet was the seed of the Church,” nor that their predictions were so soon to be answered upon their own heads instead of upon those of the Saints, who that day recognized in Brigham Young the voice of the true shepherd.
For proofs that retribution has been meted out to many who had a hand in our persecutions, and the shedding of innocent blood which cried to heaven for vengeance, we refer to a chapter of testimonies which, long since, were given by the guilty, and have been lately published in a little book entitled, “The Martyrs,” by Lyman O. Littlefield, showing also how “the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children.” These things are terrible to reflect upon, and how awful to think that it should be so, adding to their own sufferings, which they were doomed to endure here, besides the terribly punishment hereafter.
I can bear witness with hundreds of others who stood that day under the sound of Brigham’s voice, of the wonderful and startling effect that it had upon us. If Joseph had risen from the dead and stood before them, it could hardly have made a deeper or more lasting impression. It was the very voice of Joseph himself. This was repeatedly spoken of by the Latter-day Saints. And surely it was a most powerful and convincing testimony to them that he was the man, instead of Sidney Rigdon, that was destined to become the “great leader,” and upon whose shoulders the mantle of Joseph had fallen.
I will here mention a little circumstance to show that there was still a warm place in the heart of President Brigham Young towards Elder Rigdon. It is now more than twenty years since his two eldest sons, Sidney and Wickliffe, came out west in search of gold, the latter hoping also to find health, which he lost while studying law, and had been for some time a sufferer from dyspepsia. Being old schoolmates, my husband invited them to share our hospitality while they stayed. They accompanied him to the office to see President Brigham Young, who gave them a kindly welcome, and the first opportunity that presented itself of speaking alone to my husband, he said: “Horace, you give those boys a home with you, and you shall lose nothing by it.” Horace informed him that he had already done so. Everything that laid in our power was done to make them feel comfortable and at home. Wickliffe remained here through the summer, and Sidney stopped with us whenever he came in from the mines. Wickliffe was more religiously inclined than the other, and he expressed himself to Mother Whitney and to Sister Eliza R. Snow that he would give all that he had if he could know of the truth of “Mormonism.” He wrote after returning home and expressed his appreciation of the hospitality that they met with, while wanderers in this far off land.
On the 27th of the following September , five hundred troops were marched into our city by Governor Ford, pretending that they came for the purpose of bringing the murderers of the Prophet and Patriarch to justice. Having previously plighted the faith of the state that they, as prisoners, should be protected, he could hardly do less, but the people looked upon this as a vain and needless display; they could read his heart and knew full well that he was only feigning and that this was but another exhibition of his hypocrisy. The same day President Brigham Young received his commission as Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion previously held by Joseph Smith. It will be remembered that previous to his death, Governor Ford had disarmed the Nauvoo Legion, which fact he was reminded of on this day, while witnessing the review of the Legion, as several of General Young’s staff appeared in uniform but without arms. Brother John Taylor was still lying very low from the wounds received in Carthage jail.
The private instructions to Lieutenant General Brigham Young accompanying the order issued at Springfield, October 9, 1844, were not calculated to allay, but on the contrary, to excite the former suspicion of our people.
The anti-Mormons were aware of the righteousness of our cause, having witnessed the patient forbearance of a poor and persecuted people under all their accumulated wrongs–a little handful who had managed, through the kindness of an all-merciful Father, to outlive the dark and terrible scenes caused by their cruel and barbarous treatment and drivings in Missouri and then into Illinois. But they, like our former persecutors, saw the advantage that the “Mormons” had gained over them, and they dreaded the power that we would hold in that state if allowed to remain there and enjoy our constitutional rights. And by January 1845, the vile plans concocted by those sectarian demagogues and scheming politicians, were carried into effect. Our city charter and the charter of the Legion were repealed by the legislature, thus making outlaws of a whole community of peaceable, law-loving citizens of the United States of America–the land of our birth. Yes, and a boasted land of liberty and freedom, for the oppressed of all nations. But the work of God still progressed. His Saints became more united, and the work on the temple went ahead with greater speed than ever before, which caused Satan to rage with greater fury.
The following incident occurred in our family on the 29th of the same month, January, 1845. My mother gave birth to her sixth son, Brigham Willard. Her health had greatly suffered in consequence of the troubles. The great excitement and anxiety of her mind during the scenes through which she had passed, being too much for her feeble frame, she and her babe were often times brought near to the grave, but through mighty faith and the administrations of the holy ordinances, their lives were preserved.
The trial of the men indicted by the grand jury for the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith began at Carthage on the 7th of May . The names of those men are as familiar to the Saints who were then living in that party of the country. They were: Thomas C. Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal; Col. Levi Williams, a Baptist preacher, Jacob E. Davis, senator; Mark Aldrich and William N. Grover.
It is not my purpose to go into particulars of their sham trial, as it has been published. Suffice it to say that those assassins were “honorably acquitted.” But if they had been “Mormon” criminals, there would have been no mercy shown them, but would have met a similar fate to Joseph and Hyrum. One of the lawyers employed in defense of the murderers said: “If the prisoners were guilty of murder, then he himself was guilty. It was the public opinion that the Smiths ought to be killed, and public opinion made the laws; consequently it was not murder to kill them.”
The following letter, written to Brigham Young by the attorney general of that state, Josiah Lamborn, shows how intelligent and honorable men viewed the course taken by the members of that legislature, and it will hit not a few in this vicinity, as well as those at a distance, who, through falsehood of the blackest die, have instituted the present mode of crusade only for the vile purpose of demoralizing and plundering their more virtuous, honorable and industrious neighbors.
He [Joseph Lamborn] wrote: “I have always considered that your enemies have been prompted by religious and political prejudices and by a desire for plunder and blood, more than for the common good. By the repeal of your charter, and by refusing all amendments and modifications, our legislature has given a kind of sanction to the barbarous manner in which you have been treated. Your two representatives exerted themselves to the extent of their ability in your behalf, but the tide of popular passion and frenzy was too strong to be resisted. It is truly a melancholy spectacle to witness the lawmakers of a sovereign state condescending to pander to the vices, ignorance and malevolence of a class of people who are at all times ready for a riot, murder and rebellion. Your senator, Jacob E. Davis (one of the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum), has done much to poison the minds of members against anything in your favor. He walks at large, in defiance of law, an indicted murderer. If a Mormon was in his position, the senate would afford no protection, but he would be dragged forth to the jail or the gallows, or to be shot down by a cowardly and brutal mob.”
Many (we admit) were the blind instruments of apostates and a lawless, unprincipled clique, and the same is true today, but they will shut their eyes and their ears to the truth, little realizing that they are striving against God when trying to compel us to forsake His laws and conform to theirs. Laws made by men who are doubly dyed in the darkest pools of corruption, and would profane and defile our temples that are being reared to His great and holy name, if they could, with all manner of riot and revelling. This has been their calculation and to break us up, but they will find, as have the rest, that this work was not dependent upon Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, but that it is established no more to be thrown down. Though many, through various causes, have slackened in their faith and fallen away, and some among us have become puffed up in the pride of their hearts, gold having become their God, duties and covenants are set aside. But there are those, and women too, who are as true as the Jewish mother was who exhorted her seven sons to be courageous, willing to suffer and to die if needful, rather than deny or depart from the laws of God, neither will they “submit to the tyranny to which Senator Edmunds proposes to subject them,” and we will say, “Though the Lord be angry with us for a little while, for our chastening and correction, yet think not that our nation is forsaken of God. But abide awhile, and behold His great power, how He will torment thee and thy seed.”
As James Arlington Bennett predicted of the “Mormons” in 1842, in a letter to the New York Herald: “They may kill one prophet and confine in chains half his followers, but another will take his place, and the Mormons will still go ahead. . . . Persecute them, and you are sure to multiply them. This is fully proved since the Missouri persecutions, as since that affair they have increased one hundred fold. It is the best policy, both for Missouri and Illinois, to let them alone.” And we will say as he did, “Let not the history of Daniel be forgotten.”
Though heavy clouds seemed to be lowering over the devoted heads of the Saints, looking at times very dark and threatening, yet they could not prevent them from enjoying the sunshine of peace, nor the bright hope which rested down upon a loyal and God-fearing people (whose consciences were void of offense before Him and all the world) with a brighter glow than they had ever before experienced. A material change was wrought in society by the cleansing process which had been going on, as much of the filth and scum had passed off, giving still greater enjoyment at our social gatherings. We had our concerts, assisted by the finest orchestra in the west, and other innocent amusements, in which the youth mingled with those of mature years, and I can look back to them as some of the happiest hours of my life.
The dedication of the seventies hall was one of the most pleasant incidents in my recollection. Commencing on the 25th of September, 1844, it was kept up for eight days, every quorum meeting in regular order, accompanied by members of their families, who prepared “a feast of fat things,” which was partaken of by all, including some of the apostles, the members of the choir, and William Pitt’s band of music, who were in attendance each day to sing the sweet songs of Zion, some of which were composed for the occasion. For a copy of several songs, composed and sung on various occasions in our Nauvoo Concert Hall, I am indebted to the kindness of Sister Maria Burton, who, with her husband, R. T. Burton, were participators in those pleasant scenes, she being thoughtful enough to preserve them, and which I think are well worthy of a place in history.
I here present the hymn composed by Parley P. Pratt for the dedication of the Nauvoo Concert Hall, which came off December 20, 1844.
Truth is our theme, our joy, our song. How sweet its numbers flow, All music’s charms to truth belong, To truth ourselves we owe. `Twas truth that brought us from afar; `Twas truth that placed us here; Union and truth without a jar, Our Halls and Temples rear. `Twas truth first formed our band and choir On Zion’s western plains; `Twas truth that tuned our earliest lyre In sweet harmonious strains.
Sacred to truth this [indecipherable] shall be, While earth and time remains; Where the band and choir in harmony Shall sound their sweetest strains.
By faith our union is complete, Our songs in concert rise, And by the power of truth we’ll meet, To sing amid the skies.
Hosannah to the Prince of Peace, His truth has made us free; Shall the day of full release The earth’s grand jubilee.
For years our most charming and popular singer was Brother John Kay, whose name, it will be remembered, became almost a household word. His voice, deep and mellow, needed no accompaniment to fill our halls, and the powerful and thrilling effect upon the audience when he sang, “The Children of Judah” or “The Sea, the Sea, the Open Sea,” and others equally charming and melodious (as well as some original songs) was such that once heard could not easily be forgotten. I shall again have occasion to speak of him as he was one of the prominent actors in those scenes, and also after we became wanderers, in search of homes in this far off wilderness, where we had cause to believe that we should dwell unmolested to enjoy the privilege of worshipping the Almighty after the dictates of our own consciences.
I must now revert to other scenes, and gather up some broken threads to my narrative which have been left to give place to other historical incidents. My acquaintance with Sarah Ann Whitney, eldest daughter of Bishop Newel K. and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, whose name is mentioned in one of my father’s letters, I began to make in the spring of 1842. Though our parents had long been associated and we had known each other since the school days of Kirtland, but as she was some four years older than myself, who had entered my teens but a few months previous, I had never thought of becoming a companion to her.
I had grown up very fast and my father often took me out with him and for this reason was taken to be older than I was. I really thought it curious that Sarah Ann should take such a fancy to me. My first introduction into her circle was at a party given in honor of her seventeenth birthday in March, 1842, in the Masonic room above Joseph Smith’s store. The latter her father had charge of, and his family occupied a small house adjoining it. This was quite a select party. Among them were the daughters of Elder Rigdon, Bishop Higbee’s sons, the Miss Pierces, (Margaret Pierce Young being one of them), and Rachel, Mary and Mary Ann Ivins, the former, now Rachel Grant, were cousins, with some of their brothers and many others too numerous to mention, were among the guests. The Prophet spent a little time with them, but took no part. I believe that I was the youngest and I know that I was the most bashful, so much so that I declined nearly every invitation to take part in their various games. If there had been dancing I might have passed through with a better grace, but dancing was not so much approved at that time, at least was not so commonly practiced among the Saints.
Sarah Ann’s brother, Horace, who was twenty months her senior, made one of the party but had never dreamed of such a thing as matrimony with me, whom he only remembered in the earliest school days in Kirtland as occupying one of the lowest seats. He becoming enough advanced, soon left the one taught in the red schoolhouse on the flat and attended a higher one on the hill, and through our moving to Missouri and Illinois we lost sight of each other. After the party was over I stopped the rest of the night with Sarah, and as her room and his were adjoining, being only separated by a partition, our talk seemed to disturb him, and he was impolite enough to tell us of it, and request us to stop and let him go to sleep, which was proof enough that he had never thought of me only as the green school girl that I was, or he would certainly have submitted gracefully (as lovers always should) to be made a martyr of.
No brother and sister could be more affectionately devoted to each other than were Horace and Sarah Ann. He had always been to her like a guardian. This I heard from her mother previous to our intimacy, and it made an impression upon my mind as being admirable and praiseworthy in an elder brother. Soon after this event, he was engaged to accompany Amasa Lyman and others, as clerk, to the southern states, where they went to preach and transact some business for Joseph and after a short absence they returned. He was a printer by trade and was employed by Don Carlos Smith until the death of the latter, whom he loved as dearly as an own brother. The next autumn after his return from the south, the bishop moved his family into a house on Parley Street, nearer to us. About a year after her birthday party, she invited my brother and I to attend another small party which, to me, was very pleasant and far more enjoyable than the other, there being present only a few select friends. The Prophet was there during the early part of the evening, and some peculiar remarks which he made, I remember, gave food for talk and no little amount of wit which passed from one to the other after he had left; and William and I talked it over after we returned home of the enjoyable time and the peculiarities of Joseph.
Soon after this, on the 12th of May, 1843, Horace [Whitney] left for the east to visit his mother’s parents who were then living in North Canaan County, Connecticut, and other of his connections in Ohio, remaining away over a year. He and Joseph Kingsbury were in Kirtland when they heard of Joseph’s and Hyrum’s death, and they returned to Nauvoo as quickly as possible. It was not until the summer after he had gone east that I learned of the existence of the plural order of marriage, and that the spring of 1842 had seen his sister Sarah Ann the wife of Joseph Smith. My father was the first to introduce it to me, which had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake. When he found (after the first outburst of displeasure for supposed injury) that I received it meekly, he took the first opportunity to introduce Sarah Ann to me as Joseph’s wife. This astonished me beyond measure; but I could then understand a few things which had previously been to me a puzzle, and among the rest, the meaning of his words at her party.
I saw, or could imagine in some degree, the great trial that she must have passed through, and that it had required a mighty struggle to take a step of that kind, and had called for a sacrifice, such as few can realize but those who first rendered obedience to this law. It was a strange doctrine, and very dangerous too, to be introduced at such a time, when in the midst of the greatest trouble Joseph had ever encountered. The Missourians and Illinoisans were ready and determined to destroy him. They could but take his life, and that he considered a small thing when compared with the eternal punishment which he was doomed to suffer if he did not teach and obey this principle. No earthly inducement could be held forth to the women who entered this order. It was to be a life sacrifice for the sake of an everlasting glory and exaltation. Sarah Ann took this step of her own free will, but had to do it unbeknown to her brother, which grieved her most, and also her mother, that they could not open their hearts to him. But Joseph feared to disclose it, believing that the Higbee boys would embitter Horace against him, as they had already caused serious trouble, and for this reason he favored his going east, which Horace was not slow to accept. He had had some slight suspicions that the stories about Joseph were not all without foundation, but had never told them, nor did he know the facts until after his return to Nauvoo, when Sarah hastened to tell him all. It was no small stumbling block to him when learning of the course which had been taken towards him, which was hard for him to overlook. But Joseph had always treated him with the greatest kindness from the time that he came to live in his father’s house in Kirtland. In fact they had attended the same school and studied Hebrew together, and had pitched quoits and played ball together many a time there and in Nauvoo, and he could hold nothing against him now he was dead.
Joseph was noted for his child-like love and familiarity with children, and he never seemed to feel that he was losing any of his honor or dignity in doing so. And if he heard the cry of a child, he would rush out of the house to see if it was harmed. Sarah felt when she took this step that it would be the means of severing her from the happy circle in which she had moved as one of their guiding stars. She was called proud and somewhat eccentric, but the influence that she seemed to hold over one was almost magnetic. I found her incapable of professing anything which she did not feel, and that she was a most pure-minded, conscientious and God-fearing girl. Our friendship dated from that period, and we became, as much as is possible, like “the two halves of one soul.”
Bishop Whitney was not a man that readily accepted of every doctrine, and would question the Prophet very closely upon principles if not made clear to his understanding. When Joseph saw that he was doubtful concerning the righteousness of this celestial order he told him to go and inquire of the Lord concerning it, and he should receive a testimony for himself.
The Bishop, with his wife, who had for years been called Mother Whitney, retired together and unitedly besought the Lord for a testimony whether or not this principle was from Him; and they ever after bore testimony that they received a manifestation and that it was so powerful they could not mistake it. The Bishop never afterwards doubted and they willingly gave to him their daughter, which was the strongest proof that they could possibly give of their faith and confidence in him as a true Prophet of God.
The following verses, written about the time of the death of the Prophet and the gloom that shrouded the city, are not published because of their literary merit, but they indicate a pathos and warmhearted tenderness, and although simply in language, express the love and good feeling entertained by the members of the choir and band for each other, the reverence in which they held the Prophet, and their intense love for the city of Nauvoo. They will be likely to remind many of the older Latter-day Saints of the scenes in which they took an active part.
A Song for the Choir.
How cheering to meet with so many true friends, Companions in sorrow and joy without end; We spend a few moments in happy delight, But `tis time to go home, so, my dear friends, good night Home, home, sweet, sweet home! We’ll return to our friends and companions at home.
But alas! we have lost Brother Joseph! He’s gone To rest for a season from sorrow and pain– He’s gone to prepare us (then let us not mourn) In a mansion of bliss, an eternal sweet home. Home, home, sweet, sweet home! How cheering the thought of our endless sweet home.
Let praises to God in the highest be given, Let angels above shout His praises in heaven; Shout, ye Saints on the earth, for the time will yet come When we’ll meet Brother Joseph in an endless sweet home. Home, home, sweet, sweet home! Hallelujah to God, an eternal sweet home.
O God! Save the Band.
O God! save the band whose hearts are all one To sound forth thy praises with music and song– To sound forth thy praises in marches so grand, And play the sweet tunes of God save the band!
O God! save the band from affliction and woe, From sorrow and death, and all of their foes; In concert to live while on earth they shall stand, And join in the chorus of, God save the Band!
Let the trumpets sound loud and clarinets as one, And the piccolos keep time to the beat of the drum; Let the trombone’s deep tones echo wild through the land To the spirit of love of, God save the band!
Let cornopean’s soft notes in unison be heard, And bugles add strength to the praise of the Lord, Let the Saints in splendor with colors so grand, March forth to the tune of, God save the band!
We ask that the Twelve may regard us in love, And lead us to play with the band that’s above, Where Joseph and Hyrum forever will stand And join the rich strains of, God save the band!
O God! save the band, in full chorus we’ll join, And pray that our spirits with thine may combine; And all that is evil we’ll ever withstand And pray without ceasing, O God! save the band!
Oh God Save Nauvoo.
When we pray for all blessings to equally flow, For the gathering and kingdom of Christ here below, For the good of all people, the Mormon and Jew, For a more perfect union we’ll pray without ceasing– O God save Nauvoo.
When you pray for old Israel, now scattered afar, For the nations and kingdoms degraded by war, For the world in its blindness and wickedness too, For redemption as promised, then pray without doubting– O God save Nauvoo.
When you pray for your foes, both without and within, For the captive in prison, the exile in sin, When you enter your closet as Christ told you to, And ask of the Father, then pray in the Spirit– O God save Nauvoo.
When Horace returned to Nauvoo he found that a year or more had wrought great changes, not only by the death of Joseph and Hyrum, but other friends had passed away–numbers were married and others had grown up until he could hardly recognize them, and among the most noticeable was myself, which fact his looks and words expressed the first morning after his return, as he called to give us, among other old neighbors, a friendly shake of the hand. I was not yet sixteen, and though the feeling between us then could not rationally be called love, it was something akin to it, admiration, which only needed time and acquaintance to mature. I was considerably tinctured with romance and entertained the bright hope that I had already experienced my most bitter portion of the realities of life. His mother and sister were pleased with the idea of our union, and the latter had early expressed herself to that effect. Not very long after this, Sarah and I accompanied him and my brother William across the prairie to Carthage, to see the jail where Joseph and Hyrum had been murdered. William and I had often passed through that little town on the way to Ramus, to visit at the brothers Perkins, but never before under like circumstances or with such peculiar sensations. The wife of the jailor very kindly showed us upstairs. The walls of the room [Carthage Jail] had been whitewashed and the floor had been scoured many times, but the stains of blood were still quite visible, and we saw a number of bullet holes in the door. We looked into the cell, into which Willard Richards had dragged Elder John Taylor after he was wounded and covered him up, hoping that he would be overlooked and his life spared to tell the tale, not expecting that he himself would ever escape alive.
As we stood by the well curb where Joseph fell, Horace picked up a small chip covered with blood, and which he still has in his possession, though the blood is hardly discernible, nearly thirty-nine years having elapsed since that awful tragedy was enacted, and seemingly sanctioned by our nation under this grand Constitution which we had learned from our earliest childhood to love and revere. And no heed was paid to the wailing cries of the bereaved, nor the solemn prayers of an oppressed, weak and defenseless people, but they were driven out with the supposition and the hope that they would perish from destitution, cold and hunger. . . .
I was a passionate lover of music, and had so longed for the privilege of learning to play the piano, and this I enjoyed during the summer of 1845. I had an accomplished lady teacher who had received the gospel in London. My first lessons were given me on a small piano standing in a milliner shop which was owned by the Miss Grays, then living on Main Street. One of them is now Mrs. Rumel, who has a large millinery establishment on Main Street in this city. My teacher would often praise my aptness in learning and say to me, “You will go ahead of me, Miss Helen, for you have a voice to sing, which I never had.” President Brigham Young had a small piano and invited me to come to his house and practice with his daughter Vilate, who, though younger than myself, had had previous advantages, but was rather indifferent, and he thought if I practiced with her she would take a greater interest. Their piano stood in Sister Young’s room, and her health being very poor he proposed to have it brought to our house when the upper part was done. This pleased us both immensely. I never became weary of practicing until after I heard it was decided that we were to be broken up and move to the Rocky Mountains. Though the piano remained there through the winter, I felt no encouragement to continue taking lessons, though father tried to stimulate me to go on, and said, to encourage me, that they should have the necessary material taken to manufacture pianos and I should have one, but I knew that I would forget it all; and we little thought of its being so long before we got to our destination.
I here produce a copy of the letter received by President Brigham Young from Governor [Thomas] Ford, dated April 8, 1845, containing a proof, indisputable that the Prophet Joseph Smith was the first to propose moving to this western country, instead of Brigham Young, as has been stated by Joseph Smith, editor of the Lamoni Herald and reputed by others, who are equally in the dark in this, as well as in all other matters pertaining to this Latter-day work.
“If you can get off by yourselves you may enjoy peace, but surrounded by such neighbors, I [Thomas Ford] confess that I do not see the time when you will be permitted to enjoy quiet. I was informed by General Joseph Smith last summer that he contemplated a removal west, and from what I learned from him and others at that time, I think if he had lived, he would have began to move in the matter before this time. I would be willing to exert all my feeble abilities and influence to further your views in this respect if it was the wish of your people. I would suggest a matter in confidence. California now offers a field for the prettiest enterprise that has been undertaken in modern times. It is but sparsely inhabited, and by none by the Indians or imbecile Mexican Spaniards. I have not inquired enough to know how strong it is in men and means. But this we know, that if conquered from Mexico, that country is so physically weak and morally distracted that she could never send a force there to reconquer it. Why should it not be a pretty operation for your people to go out there, take possession of and conquer a portion of the vacant country and establish an independent government of your own, subject only to the laws of nations?
You would remain there a long time before you would be disturbed by the proximity of other settlements.
If you conclude to do this, your design ought not to be known, or otherwise it would become the duty of the United States to prevent your emigration. If once you cross the line of the United States territory, you would be in no danger of being interfered with.”
The Twelve Apostles had then nearly matured their plans for the move (not only of the Saints in North America, but also those in Great Britain) to these Rocky Mountains, and the governor’s advice was therefore quite unnecessary. They had received similar advice from Senator Douglas, James Arlington Bennett and others. About this time they addressed a petition to President James K. Polk, laying before him the true condition of a poor oppressed and long suffering people. But his heart was as an adamant–he did not deign an answer.
I [Helen Whitney] find many things mentioned in my father’s [Heber C. Kimball’s] journal which I remember as I read them, and they bring to my mind other incidents which had it not been for his record, would probably have been buried in oblivion. I will copy a few as they were written by his own hand in 1845. He says:
“On the morning of the 18th of June , I [Heber C. Kimbvall] went to John Taylor’s to read history. President Brigham Young, George A. Smith, John Taylor and myself–Brother Ezra Benson read for us. The same morning Phineas Young and Charles Shumway returned home from their western mission. At four o’clock they came in where the brethren were reading, and we stopped to listen to a letter from Brother Dunham, and they gave to us a history of their travels. They have had some difficulties, but all will work right in the end.”
Next day he writes, “I and others of the Twelve were sent for by Sister Jennetta Richards (Brother Willard’s wife,) to meet there and pray for her, as she felt that she could not live long. We also prayed for my wife, who is very sick, and offered up prayer for Bishop Whitney, who has gone to St. Louis, that he may be prospered.”
The same day, he writes, “Brigham Young, George A. Smith, and myself went to the temple to see how things were progressing. The rafters were mostly on, all things going well. Returned home and found Sister Whitney. She anointed my wife and sang in tongues; I also sang and the Lord blessed us. June the 20th , I again met with my brethren to read history–were in that part which describes the persecutions in Jackson County, Missouri. We stopped reading at two o’clock in the afternoon. I found my wife worse–sent for Sister Whitney. We clothed ourselves according to the order of the holy priesthood and anointed and prayed for her. The Lord heard us, for she was better and had a good night’s rest. The Lord shall have the glory. All is quiet in our city.”
He speaks of feelings having arisen from what William Smith had said on the stand the previous Sabbath, that he and his connections had been neglected, etc., which was false, and he says, “This gives me sorrow, but the Lord will cause all things to go right.”
“June 22nd , Bishop Whitney got home from St. Louis.” At four o’clock the same day, William Smith was married by Brigham Young. On the 25th, met with the police, the Bishops and many others at the Masonic Hall. William Smith was present and said he was afraid of his life. He received a rebuke from Brigham.” We read that, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth,” which words applied to William Smith, and he justly deserved that rebuke. In Joseph’s life he was quarrelsome and frequently had to be dealt with before his brethren for unchristian-like conduct. He became very wicked and unprincipled, and his conduct towards Joseph was at times unbearable, but he exercised towards him all the kindness and forbearance that was possible. He was very deceitful and tried by his allurements to lead away some of Joseph’s young wives by picturing to them the grand sights to be seen, and the more pleasant and agreeable life that they could lead if they would accompany him to the eastern cities. He had a plurality of wives, but his first wife was an invalid and was then living in Philadelphia with her little children.
Bishop Whitney was informed of his wicked course taken against Joseph, but his counsel was to keep it from him, as he had trouble enough already upon his shoulders. He, William [Smith], was certainly an odd one in that family, was very genteel, good looking and capable of appearing in the most refined modern society, like some others of the kid-gloved gentility of these days, but if all of his conduct had been exposed to Joseph, the consequences might have been more serious. He came from the east when hearing of his brother’s martyrdom, and the next day after his arrival at Nauvoo, instead of coming to the meeting, which was held by the roadside east of the temple, he rode flauntingly by in a fine carriage dressed in deep mourning with none but himself and driver. He could have taken any other road as well, but it looked as though he did it just for the purpose of creating a sensation. He aspired to stand as the leader and fully expected to take some of his brother’s wives, if not all. He afterward professed or feigned repentance and humility before the Twelve Apostles and the people.
I had the honor of the perusal of a long and eloquently worded epistle written by him [Willaim Smith] to one of Joseph’s young wives, telling not only his devotion to her, but of a wonderful vision or revelation that he had received, concerning her and himself, picturing out her future state in glorious colors. But I suppose her mind had not sufficiently expanded or else she possessed too little of the spiritual to appreciate such visions, especially from that quarter, even to deign a reply, but cast his letter to the flames. His poor suffering wife had passed away previous to this and he thought it a flattering inducement to offer a young lady the privilege of standing first. But she knew his former history, being one of the number that he tried to fascinate and lead away from his brother, the Prophet, while he was still living. After allowing her sufficient time to answer his epistle, he called one morning, and I happened to be present and heard him ask her for “that letter,” when she coolly informed him that it had been destroyed. His countenance, which had already become a shade or two darker with the pent up wrath, (which he did not try to conceal), grew darker still and the look he gave her as he turned to leave resembled anything but that of a Saint.
What made his sins still greater was that he tried to hide them under the cloak of religion, and in such there is no such thing as repentance or remission of sins. He soon after married a very pretty young girl, and though the character she bore was not of the best, she was good enough for him. I met them both at a dinner given on the 6th of the following August , at Brother John Benbow’s who owned a large farm on the prairie. My parents, with about fifty persons, were present. William Smith’s countenance that day plainly bespoke the bitterness that was raging within. It was said that he only married the girl for spite, at all events they were not happy, and it was only a short time before they separated. His brethren labored with him and tried to do him all the good they could, and my father spoke truly, for William Smith was always dissatisfied, otherwise the Twelve were one.
June 27th , being one year from the day that Joseph and Hyrum were killed in Carthage Jail, was set apart for fasting and prayer. Father [Heber C. Kimball] writes in his journal:
“O Lord, I thank thy holy name, that thou dost hear thy servants and have brought trouble upon those who have spilt the blood of thy servants and persecuted thy Saints. Even now they are dumb–that they cannot do business and are thrown into confusion in answer to prayer, as we have felt to plead with thee, with uplifted hands in token of our regard to thee. I thank thee, O our Father, for thou dost hear us in all things when we are agreed, and this thou hast granted to thy servants this day, and I pray that thy blessing and peace and prosperity may rest upon all thy Saints, even so, amen.”
Saturday, June 28th , father wrote, “The old stand in the grove west of the temple was prepared for holding meetings. The Twelve were present. We spent most of the day at the temple.
Sunday, 29th, meeting was held at the old stand. The congregation was very large. It seemed like old times when we used to hear from Joseph and Hyrum. . . . The day passed off well and heaven’s blessings were with us. In the evening went and baptized fifty-one persons.” He mentions the fourth of July, and says, “Many of the Saints spent the day riding and had bands of music, and amused themselves in different ways. The steamer Di Vernnon came up from St. Louis, some from Quincy and other places for pleasure. There were nearly one hundred and fifty who stopped in our city and went all over it–were very civil. All things passed off well. General Demming and Sheriff Backenstoes came to my house and spent the evening.”
In justice to the wives who were sealed to William Smith, I will here say that they were pure and noble women, and they had supposed him to be a righteous man. The Lord took the first one, and the others, finding out his true character, soon left him. After the young wife left he married again. I understood her to be a sister of his first wife. But she, like him, was void of the spirit of this gospel, and she must also have been blind to his faults, or to put the most charitable construction, it might have been for the sake of her sister’s children. None of us are capable of passing judgment upon one another. That we should leave to him who will soon come to judge both the living and the dead.
One of the most interesting incidents within my recollection was the laying of the capstone on the southeast corner of the [Nauvoo] temple. This was on Saturday morning, May 24, 1845. The description of it is accurately given by one of the Apostles, who, with the rest, came out from their secret retreat long enough to perform this ceremony, when they again returned to their hiding places.
The Apostle wrote: “The singers sang their sweetest notes, and their voices thrilled the hearts of the assemblage; the music of the band, which played on the occasion, never sounded so charming; and when President Young placed the stone in position and said, `The last stone is now laid upon the [Nauvoo] temple, and I pray the Almighty, in the name of Jesus, to defend us in this place, and sustain us until the temple is finished and we have all got our endowments.’ And all the congregation shouted, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! to God and the Lamb, amen! amen! and amen! and repeated these words the second and third time, the spirit of God descended upon the people, gladness filled every heart, and tears of joy coursed down many cheeks. The words of praise were uttered in earnestness and fervor. It was a relief to many to be able to give expression to the feelings with which their hearts were overcharged. Altogether the scene was a very impressive one and we doubt not that the angels looked upon it and rejoiced.”
“So let it be,” said President Young, concluding the ceremonies, “this is the seventh day of the week, or the Jewish Saboath. It is the day on which the Almighty finished his work and rested from his labors. We have finished the walls of the temple, and may rest today from our labors.”
A great amount of sickness prevailed during the summer months . The Apostles and their brethren were in the habit of meeting together every evening, and sometimes oftener, at Brother Willard Richard’s house, to unite their faith in the holy order of the priesthood in behalf of Israel. They also had to labor with their hands. My father worked at his house all the time that he could possibly get. . . .My mother’s babe was very sick at this time, which fact father mentions in his journal as being a source of anxiety and sorrow to witness his suffering. Two successive days some of his brethren came into join him in prayer for him in the holy order.
“Sister Jane (Uncle Joseph Young’s wife) and Sister Whitney were present and spent much time with us to minister to our babe.
“On the morning of the 9th of July,” he says, “I was sent for by Brother Willard Richards to administer to his wife who appeared to be dying. About ten o’clock I went again. Brother George A. Smith and his father, (John Smith), Levi Richards and John Taylor were present. We anointed and prayed for her after the holy order and she died in about half an hour. She (as is well known) was one of my father’s earliest converts in England.”
I will here mention one or two incidents though this and much more has been published in his [Heber C. Kimball’s] history, concerning her. She was the daughter of a Mr. Richards, a Presbyterian minister, and when father first met her, she was visiting a family in Preston with whom he was acquainted. As soon as they were introduced she entered into a conversation with him on the subject of the gospel. He found her a very intelligent lady and very anxious to hear and understand the doctrines of the true gospel. She went to hear him preach that evening and the following, and then she was fully convinced of the truth and sent for him and expressed her desire to be baptized, which request he cheerfully complied with, and confirmed her at the water’s edge. And as an illustration of his prophetic character, the first time he met Brother Willard Richards, he exclaimed, “Willard, I have baptized your wife today.” He writes in his journal that Sister Jeannette Richards was buried at six in the afternoon of the 11th.”
“On the evening of the 9th,” he says, “the bishops made a feast at the mansion.” Brother John Pack had charge of the house, Joseph’s family having moved back into the white house, nearer the river. Father says, “I went to John Pack’s to wait upon the Smith family as the bishops made a feast. About one hundred persons present. All things passed off well.
“Thursday, July 10th . The Saints met at the stand at ten o’clock in the morning and gave alms to the poor. I spoke, also Brigham Young, George A. Smith, John E. Page and Orson Pratt. Adjourned at two in the afternoon, as the heat was so intense. A great many are sick.”
After the meeting of fasting and prayer, father says, “I met with my brethren in the evening and prayed for rain.” And on the 13th he wrote, “On Sunday morning it began to rain very hard–have had a beautiful shower. This was in answer to our prayers. The Lord be praised for His goodness.” He wrote the day previous that his wife, Sarah Peeke, was very sick at Brother Stephen Winchester’s, and he sat up with her most of the night. The evening of the 16th, after witnessing the death of Brother William Gheen, who died at 7 o’clock in the evening, father took Sarah and Sister Winchester to the river and baptized them for their health. He was paying them for the board of his wife and two daughters, whom he had adopted. Brother and Sister Winchester and their family, if they had been our nearest kin, could not have thought more of one another than we had done from the time that we were neighbors in Kirtland, Ohio, and in Missouri.
“Brother William Gheen,” father says, “was buried on the evening of the 17th, at 6 o’clock. Most of the Twelve were present.” Brother Gheen and family were among the Saints who came from Pennsylvania. He had given two of his daughters (Anna and Amanda) to my father as wives, and did not consider it a dishonor to be thus connected with him, but quite the reverse. They have each borne him a numerous family. And though Anna has left us to join him and thousands of loved ones beyond `this vale of tears,’ her name will ever live in the hearts of countless numbers besides the many who are connected with her by family ties.
For five successive days father wrote in his journal that his time was spent working on his house, visiting the sick, in council, and a variety of other duties. “Saturday, [July] 26th ,” he says, “I visited many sick and attended council. We nominated several officers for our August election. All goes well, and the Lord is on our side.” Sunday he mentions going to meeting with his wife and daughter Helen. “Brothers George Miller and Amasa Lyman spoke a few words upon the Nauvoo House, then Brigham Young spoke.”
Most of his time on the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was spent visiting the sick; and he [Heber C. Kimball] speaks of a funeral that he attended with Brigham Young, and speaks of them reading history and going on the [Nauvoo] temple. The house of the Lord was well on towards its completion. And they could truly say that this was one of the results of faith with works. These things may look strangely to those who are unacquainted with the principles of our faith and the great work which we have been engaged in for over fifty years, and especially that our people should continue working at the Nauvoo House and temple, and at the same time preparing to leave them to the mercy of a set of sacrilegious mobocrats to demolish. I think that this should be a convincing proof (at least) of the sincerity and honesty of their motives. Nothing could daunt their spirits; but if they had not enjoyed something superior to any man-made religion they could never have been supported under all those sorrowful and trying scenes. It was through the united faith and prayers of the faithful few that we were permitted to remain there long enough to finish that temple, that they might be endowed with the blessings which the Lord had promised them, and for which they cheerfully gave their mite and labored faithfully to finish the house which the Lord had commanded to be built. Words cannot express the gratitude that I feel for being counted worthy to have place among the ones of whom the Lord has made a “peculiar people,” which is the only church ever established upon the earth since the one we read of in the days of Christ, who believe and accept the whole of the gospel as taught in the ancient scriptures, instead of choosing that portion only which agrees with our peculiar ideas and notions. The ones who do this are blind indeed.
If Christ is truly our pattern, and He had to submit to bear all manner of crosses and sink below all things, that He might rise above all things, how are we to become joint heirs with Him unless we have a similar experience in this life? This people have proven their willingness to submit to be persecuted and hated of all men for righteousness’ sake; and where is there another people who have manifested such true Christian patience, and faith enough to trust in an unseen hand under all circumstances and still believe in and rely upon those promises made by our Savior, who also commanded that we should become one in all things, and said, “Unless ye are one ye are not mine.” And because we are striving to obey this command and every other Christian and God-like principle that we may be saved and have part with Him in that celestial glory prepared for the faithful and pure in heart of all nations, and that they may hear the same glad tidings of great joy and be gathered with us into the fold of Christ, making sacrifice of our idols and rejoicing even in the midst of our sorrows, when we part with our beloved brethren, husbands, fathers, and sons, who are going forth in the service of our Master to save the souls of men that they may also be partakers of this joy which is unspeakable and that life-giving power which has ever brought comfort and cheer to the humble heart and is free to all who will seek for it; and because we have sought to become of one heart and one mind, we have ever been looked upon with a jealous eye, and hated by the world, who refuse to hear and understand the truth, but will misjudge us and all our motives. Union is power; and this is the great bug-bear, and because they cannot break up and destroy it, they consider us a dangerous rival, and in their madness cry polygamy as the only plausible excuse for breaking up and destroying this power.
They do not understand the character and the unwavering integrity of an honest Latter-day Saint; but we can well afford to be charitable, for we know what is in store for them and many of us have drunk deep enough of the bitter cup of adversity to know how to feel for our fellow creatures, and I fervently pray for those who are deceived in consequence of the great prejudice which is in the world, because of the awful lies which have been manufactured and set afloat, for effect, by the wicked in our midst; and our foes are more to be pitied than we are. They certainly have met with poor success so far, and feel rather chagrined at the present time. And Longfellow says, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
Supposing they should oblige us to leave here, it would be doing for themselves a more sorry job than when they drove us from the United States, and if they were wise they would leave us alone; for it has long since been proven that we are like a mustard stalk, which, if disturbed, will only multiply the more.
In our last article we mentioned the circumstance of an Italian brother making an offering of all his money to the trustee in trust to carry on the work on the temple. Previous to this the work was almost completely at a standstill for want of means, and President Young had urged the brethren to have faith and go on and the Lord would provide means. President Young walked into the council with the gold in his pocket, when they were debating the question of giving up the work, and he said, “Brethren, will you go on with the work and trust in the Lord?” And they were doubtful. When President Young scattered the gold over the room the brethren were as much astonished as men could possibly be. Is not this a proof that the Lord provides means to carry on His work? Brother Toronto has since accumulated means and raised a family, been to Italy and Sicily and in his native land, accomplished a good work.
In the month of July, 1845, a large caravan came to our city. This was a rarity in that part of the country, and something that I had never seen, though I remember of one passing our house when we were living in Mendon, state of New York, just previous to our leaving there. I was then between four and five years old, and I teased my ma and cried because she would not let me go with my brother William and others to see it. She told me that I was too little and I would have plenty of chances when I got older. I never heard of another until about a year after we came to Nauvoo. Then there was an opportunity for me to go, as William (who was living with Dr. F. G. Williams, at Upper Commerce) came to take me to one, but found me sick with a fresh attack of ague, and quite delirious to all around me, so that I knew nothing of it until it was over.
But now there seemed nothing in the way to prevent my seeing a circus. I was just putting on a white dress, I remember, as the caravan passed our house, the day being extremely warm but otherwise it was very pleasant. My youthful anticipations were at their height but alas for our earthly hopes, I seemed doomed to disappointment, as they had no more than spread their canvas before a sudden windstorm came and blew it to the ground, and the rain came down in torrents, so that they could not put it up again, and came very near losing some of their animals. So I had to wait until I was considerably older before my chances came to witness the circus, as we left the next February for the west, and I never again had this privilege until some years after we came to Salt Lake; and by that time my enthusiasm had considerably moderated, and I have long since become satiated with them.
After the storm was over, I accompanied father and others to see the animals, but the change in the weather obliged us to dress in thick clothing, and even mantles and overcoats were necessary. Thus we find life is one of disappointed hopes, until we have learned to restrain ourselves and become moderate in all things–then peace and pleasure is the natural result. . . .
These historical items will be of more than usual interest to this people at the present period and they are calculated to instill into them new faith and determination to persevere in defense of the sacred principle of liberty, which we still enjoy (thank God) in spite of every effort that has been made by our foes, who seem to have forgotten that persecution and intolerance beget an increase of union and the same spirit and love of liberty thrills our bosoms, which at the darkest hour roused our country to action, and inspired the hearts of the people to appoint for their commander-in-chief, George Washington, and he was filled with the spirit and power of his office, the same as was Brigham Young at the most critical moment in the tide of our affairs in Nauvoo. And we read that Washington was often led to retire alone from camp, and bow in secret prayer to that same God of Israel in whom we trust, not only to relieve his overburdened heart, but to gain His divine assistance in that awful conflict. This people was placed in a similar condition, and likely to be scattered as sheep without a shepherd, had they not chosen to be led by men who were inspired by a divine power to lead them to victory. Where if they had not been united, and had had no other but human aid to look to, or to interfere in their behalf, they could never have survived through those early scenes of trial and tribulation, much less to have carried out the great revelations and commands of the Almighty. But they knew as well as they do today the necessity of humility and prayer without ceasing, and that in everything they must give thanks, knowing that “he who is faithful shall overcome all things, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”
We know that a “three fold cord is not quickly broken, and wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men.” We have had examples enough to show what persecution will do, and what has been, and ever will be effected by outside pressure, a practice which our foes seem determined to keep up. Nowhere can they find another such a people, whose lives and works so nearly resemble those of the ancient followers of the poor and despised Nazarene, who have shown their faith by their works, and a like willingness to make sacrifice of home, friends, and all their worldly prospects (as thousands have done) and what is of more value than all the rest, their good name. For the last fifty years we have been looked down upon, persecuted, driven about and wronged, for nothing only our religion, and still we cling to it in defiance of all that this nation is threatening to do, and why is it that they do not cause us to fear and quake before them? Because we know that our Redeemer liveth, and we still have a positive assurance of divine support if we keep humble and united. We are aware that the “Mormons” as a people, have not yet become all that they should be. Many among us are like dead branches, are neither one thing nor the other, and the Lord says He wants us to be either hot or cold, for the lukewarm He would “spew out of His mouth.” If we were all in that condition and would mix in with Babylon we would meet with but little interference from them, but rather let us be upon the watchtower, for the signs of the times foreshadow great and mighty changes which have been long foretold by the prophets, ancient and modern. I remember, yes, and so do hundreds of this people, how the solemnity of these things rested upon my father for years previous to his death, because he foresaw, in the vision of his mind, the awful scenes when the judgments of an offended God would be poured out without measure upon the inhabitants of the earth, and he beheld the fate of those who are at ease in Zion; and it will take nothing less than His scourging hand to wake them from their slumber.
Therefore, our present troubles may be viewed in the light of a God-send, or a blessing in disguise, like all the rest, for it will wake up many and carry off the dross, and unite His Saints more closely than they have ever been. And none others can become heirs with our elder Brother, to that celestial and eternal glory that is awaiting all who are willing to take up and bear their cross. Such can safely leave the outcome to Him who stands at the helm; but let us see that we keep inside of the good ship, while being tossed over these rough billows, or passing through the narrow places, which all must do before we can ever reach our eternal inheritance.
The first meeting held in the temple at Nauvoo was on Sunday, October 5, 1845. I was present with the choir on this occasion, also at conference the three following days. The choir and orchestra occupied a gallery at the west and opposite the stand. . . .
On the 12th [October 1845] he [Heber C. Kimball] mentions twenty-five captains being appointed, and all the companies to number nine called out. Next day he, with President Young, met for counsel with two Lamanites, Joseph Herring (Shawnee tribe) and Lewis Dana (Oneida nation). He says, “We ordained Joseph Herring an elder, Lewis Dana having previously been ordained. We had much conversation with them and received much counsel from them as to the traits of character of the red men . . . J. B. Backenstos and several others came to my house in the evening, and several tunes were played on the piano by Sister Pitchforth.” I remember this incident, and the lady whom my father mentions was my music teacher–her name I could hardly remember and was pleased to see it mentioned in his journal.
She had a little, delicate frame and was inexperienced, like thousands who have emigrated from the cities of the old country to the western frontier, more especially those who have cast their lot with the Latter-day Saints. But she, though in poverty with her children, was never sad–her countenance always wore the same pleasant smile. She was happy in the knowledge that she had gained a key that would open the door to the true riches that cannot perish. She early sank under the many hardships and privations which befell the latter-day pilgrims while journeying westward, but members of her family are still living in Utah, who honorably represent her name.
I also remember the following incidents, copied from father’s journal:
“Tuesday, 14th [October 1845]. Mary Gont was sealed to Lewis Dana, a Lamanite, by Brigham Young, being the first Lamanite having a wife sealed to him under the New and Everlasting Covenant for time and all eternity, she being a white woman.” Her husband was civilized, and had been an elder about four years–he being the first Lamanite ever ordained an elder in the Church of Latter-day Saints.
Wednesday morning, the 15th, father received a letter from Sheriff Backenstos, requesting an interview. “At two o’clock,” he says, “I met J. B. Backenstos at his room in the mansion. . . . He then and there gave me his mind and views concerning the religion we professed to believe, he firmly and positively believed it to be the truth, and he intended to embrace it by going forward in the waters of baptism soon, and he would go with us the whole extent to the expense of his life and all he possessed.”
“Saturday, 18th [October 1845]. . . . Much rumor of war. . . . Elder Hyde returned home from the east and brought five thousand yards of topsail Russia duck.” This was for tents and wagon covers. “Sunday, 19th,” he wrote, “met at the temple in company with the Twelve. Elder Hyde preached. At four in the afternoon the Twelve met their company to organize them in the following manner by placing captains over fifties and tens, and each captain organizing his own company.” On the 20th, he says, “General Arlington Bennett came into our city–had an interview with him at Dr. Richard’s. . . . I solicited him to meet us at John Taylor’s in council this evening. He met according to agreement–continued with us until ten o’clock.” Next day a posse of the governor’s troops came into the city, but did not interfere with anyone and soon left.
He wrote on the 23rd, “The governor’s posse, consisting of thirteen men, came into the city to take Bogus Press, and searched Brother Woodworth’s house (one of our near neighbors) and then left the city. . . . On the 24th, one of the governor’s troops was shot by Brother Bieglow in self-defense (not mortally). Report says that General Arlington Bennett was hissed out of Carthage yesterday. . . . At this time matters look dark–our enemies are much enraged. . . . Wherein we have asked the Lord, He has answered us in every instance; I therefore feel to praise and exalt His holy name for the blessings and favors to His people Israel.”
On the 28th [October 11845], he says, “J. B. Backenstos came to Brother Goddard’s (as we were then concealed) saying to us that Major Warren wished to have an interview with the Twelve. Accordingly at three p.m., Brother Brigham and myself met the following at Dr. Richard’s, Major Warren, Captains Turner and Morgan. During our interview John Taylor, George A. Smith, A. Lyman, also J. Backenstos were present. Major Warren wished to know whether we were willing that writs should be served on the citizens of this place. President Young told him we were perfectly willing so far as he and brethren were concerned, as he and his brethren did not hold any official office in the city or county, that we only governed the matters pertaining to the Church. This seemed to calm his apprehensions. They left us at five p.m. with pretty good feelings.”
Father wrote, “Wednesday, 29th [October 1845]. We spent part of the day at Brother Rockwood’s. Many of the brethren came in for counsel. Joseph Herring (the Lamanite) was one, about going home west to his tribe. . . . This night I returned home as the posse had left with their writs. Thursday, 30th. Bishop Miller and Brother Burdell returned from Springfield, whither they had been to visit the governor.”
Saturday, November 2nd , he speaks of Elder Hyde preaching upon the subject of trusting in God. “Elder Taylor followed and gave an excellent exhortation much in the same strain. I also spoke and counseled the Saints to pay their tithing, etc. In the afternoon I met the first emigration company and came to a partial organization, and gave much counsel and instruction on our intended removal.”
At this time President Young was sick and unable to attend to business. On the 7th, father mentions a large raft of pine lumber, which came down the river, and he says, “On the 10th, Brigham Young, Bishop Miller and I borrowed six hundred dollars and paid Brother Russell, as he had bought one hundred thousand feet of pine boards. This will finish the temple.”
On the 11th [November 1845], he says, “The young people had a dance at the mansion–J. B. Backenstos and myself took supper with them by the request of Benjamin Johnson–from thence I returned home.”
I remember this occasion as a very pleasant one, and the mention of it reminds me of an incident connected with it. My father was quite a favorite with the sheriff, and I being there with him, he requested the privilege of taking me to supper. He also invited me to dance, and being the guest, he was invited to lead out at the opening of the ball. During the dance, at each rest of “the light fantastic toe,” I was entertained with the rehearsal of what he seemed to view as a wonderful night dream, or vision he called it, and gave me his interpretation of it. But I was rather young and gay, and could scarcely appreciate or view it in the same light that he did–especially as coming from that quarter. Besides, being in the midst of a delightful quadrille, that with the thrilling music of the band was far more to my taste, and much more exhilarating, than was the subject upon which he seemed determined to dwell. Sheriff Backenstos was a friend (no doubt) raised up by the Lord to favor His people at that critical time. His resolutions, which he expressed to my father, even is they were made in good faith, were spoken too loudly, as he did not hold long to them. I believe that Satan is ever present to take down notes, and he soon learns our weak points; we should therefore put a double guard upon our lips, and when we vow, we ought to say, “The Lord helping me,” or as said an ancient apostle, “If the Lord wills we should live, and do this or that.”