Fred B. Blair
Memoirs of W. W. Blair
(Lamoni, Iowa: 1908)
M E M O I R S
PRESIDENT W. W. BLAIR
ELDER FREDERICK B. BLAIR
FROM SAINTS' HERALD
WITH A PREFACE BY PRESIDENT JOSEPH SMITH, AN
OBITUARY BY ELDER MARK. H. FORSCUTT,
AND A STATEMENT BY ELDER
FREDERICK B. BLAIR.
HERALD PUBLISHING HOUSE
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William Wallace Blair was of an intellectual and sturdy Scotch family. Strong in conviction, quick in disposition, diligent and persistent in action, of a genial temperament, he was cheerful and courteous in manner, yet dignified and honorable in deportment to both his friends and opponents; he was kind, even sympathetic towards those whom he met in the various forensic discussions which the advocacy of the angelic message of the restoration has persistently provoked in the field of religious controversy. Too noble to envy another's success, too generous to gloat over a defeated antagonist, he left no bitterness of spirit to follow him and carried none out of the field of conflict.
Elder Blair was a man of good business ability, and at the time the gospel message reached him wag in active business life. He came from the ranks of the unbelieving; but when the Spirit of truth touched his intellect, brain and heart were fired by its power, and abandoning business, a careless and unbelieving life, he became at once a consistent and fearless advocate of the gospel principles and the ethics of Christian philosophy.
He was for a time disheartened by the lapse in the teaching of the gospel by William Smith, brother of the Martyrs, Joseph and Hyrum; which lapse from the virtue and integrity of the truth he met by exposure and denunciation, upon its discovery, though at the time it seemed to be the entire overthrowing of the hopes and the faith of himself and those who joined in withstanding the attempted departure from the way of truth.
It was after this strange and mischievous hiatus, and the
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consequent lull and depression in spiritual activity, and during Elder Blair's renewed business energy, that the news of the Reorganization among the scattered members of the church reached him. The new demand which this made upon him was met with the characteristic self-abnegation of his nature, and he entered into the work without reservation, and again became an uncompromising advocate of the gospel, and an equally uncompromising opponent to the rule of falsehood in doctrine and evil in human conduct.
Not long after this, under "the providence which shapes our ends," the writer became acquainted with Elder Blair. This acquaintance began by virtue of the call and direction given the writer under which he met with the little band of reviving members at Amboy, Illinois, April 6, 1860. After the writer had been received into fellowship by the act of conference, and had been ordained to the high priesthood in obedience to the sustaining voice of the body, and was chosen to preside over the church, by direction of the supervising and ever present Spirit of the Master, the writer chose Elder William Marks, a high priest under the presidency of the Martyr, and Elder William W. Blair as counselors, to form the quorum required by the revealed law of the church.
From that day and hour of choosing, approval, and ordination, until the testimony of each, borne in lives of consistent self-sacrifice and unswerving devotion to principle, truth, and personal integrity, was sealed, the writer knew both men in close association and intimacy as co-laborers in the cause of the New Evangel.
Elder Marks' labors ceased on May 22, 1872, at Plano, Illinois, at the age of seventy-nine. He had remained true to the original faith at the expense of wasted substance, the failure of his family to abide with him in the truth, with the exception of an elder son and a daughter. The writer watched with the dying veteran and aided in caring for him in his last hour, and in closing his eyes after the light of the valiant spirit had departed from them. The testimony of the disciple was true to the last.
From 1860 to the spring of 1896, a period of thirty-six years, the closest of personal friendship and association in
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church service and spiritual affairs, between Elder Blair and the writer, continued unmarred and unbroken.
Elder Blair was Democratic in political affiliation, the writer was Republican. Notwithstanding this difference in political preference there was ever the sincerest regard each for the other, and at no time during the long years of labor together was there the shadow of ill-feeling, or a word of warm discussion of political affairs. Each refused offers of political preferment, believing that political strife' and partisan office to be improper for men holding the position of leaders in the field of religious thought, and incompatible with the peace and dignity of our association. Neither belonged to any secret order, and hence not under obligation to the, claims or dictation of oath-bound associates for time, talents, or money; believing as each did, that the obligation involved in the gospel baptismal vow was all the bond needed to bind men to do for their fellow men all that lies in their power temporally and spiritually.
No two men constituted as were Elder Blair and the writer, holding so different and radical views on many things, ever wrought more harmoniously and with a better confidence than obtained between these two. He was a counselor indeed, an assured supporter on mutual agreements, and an honorable conservator of peace upon points of difference, demanding no compromise of others and yielding none.
The early days of the struggle for reorganization were stormy, sometimes perilously so; but, though sometimes tried unto humiliation spiritually, and almost to the limit of forbearance temporally, Elder Blair never wavered, nor abated his vigilance and duty. Always in the forefront, he was the longest in point of consecutive and continued service in the field of any of the band of missionaries up to the time of his death. From first to last his was a life call and a life service. He had a faithful and efficient helper and spiritual coadjutor in his companion, Sr. Elizabeth Blair, who, with her sons and daughter, survive him, and they are still giving good tribute to the laborer's virtues and memory.
Knowing the author of these memoirs so well, and for so long a period of mutual service, the writer is gratified by
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the request of Elder F. B. Blair, youngest son of Elder Blair, who is the compiler and publisher of his father's diary, to write this preface in tribute to the worth of the man, the missionary, the citizen, and Saint, and as a token of the personal love and Christian regard born of spiritual commendation and continued by close association during the years of spiritual struggle and the fostering graces in Christian triumph. He was what the gospel made him, and as the writer has been and can be only that, mutual esteem was the bond of unity in time and may be the guarantee of association "in the beyond."
The writer has omitted dates and personal incident, thus leaving detail to be developed in the story of the life and missionary service to be told in the memoirs themselves.
The Reorganized Church has had no more self-sacrificing or conscientious and faithful advocate, defender, and missionary than Elder W. W. Blair; and these memories are commended to the reading of the Saints and others who may choose to read them, in the confident trust that as men shall read of the events of a busy life and the scenes of spiritual conflict with their fluctuating periods of threatening defeat, or promising victory, they may feel that the hero whose life is depicted in his writings, like one of old, "though he be dead, yet speaketh."
He was stricken down, at the front, as a soldier in the discharge of his duty, leaving a fragrant memory as a heritage to his sons, and encouragement to the Saints, on April 18, 1896, as he was returning home from the conference held that year at Kirtland, Ohio, his last labors and testimony being borne in the Temple first dedicated to the service of God on Joseph's land, by the Saints under the restored gospel dispensation.
Of such as he it may be safely written:
Past, the need of warfare now;
Gone thy strength -- thy faith prevaileth;
God, himself, will speed the plow."
TORONTO, Ontario, July 21, 1908. JOSEPH SMITH.
MEMOIRS OF W. W. BLAIR.
During the summer and fall of 1851, residing near Amboy, Lee County, Illinois, I became interested in the doctrine on Christ taught by a body of Latter Day Saints, less than twenty in number, located in that vicinity, and on the eighth day of October, after thorough conviction of the truth of that doctrine, I was baptized by Elder William B. Smith brother of Joseph the Seer, and confirmed by him and others; and after four days, in answer to silent, fervent prayer, was as literally baptized with the Holy Spirit as I had previously been of water. Radically changed by these experiences, my hopes, desires, and purposes were directed decidedly and deeply into religious channels closely in harmony with the religion of Christ as set forth in the New Testament. In all this new life I was happily joined by my wife and my mother the day following my own baptism. For weeks and months afterward my highest anticipations in respect to the peace and love and spiritual blessings of the gospel were more than realized; but in less than a year trials of a very distracting character came to me through the
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doings and teachings of leading offices in the little branch, and with a determination not to fellowship nor walk in communion with ministers or members of that kind, at the closing of a morning service in the branch of a Sunday, Elder Edwin Cadwell and myself stated the leading features of our grievances, and the stumbling-blocks we had encountered, and there and then publicly, quietly withdrew. In this we were soon followed, in a quiet manner, by a few others.
During the four years that followed, we maintained our faith in the doctrine of Christ and in the latter-day work as set forth in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.
In 1854, removing from my farm near Amboy, I engaged in mercantile pursuits at East Paw Paw, twenty-five miles east of Amboy.
In the latter part of 1855 my mind began to be deeply moved in respect to matters of religion, my former experiences in the church, and my future prospects. This continued on over into 1856. At times my meditations and convictions were of such range and force as to finally lead me to resolve that, whatever others might do, it was my duty to honor God and seek to live in harmony with the light I had received of him.
I became acquainted, personally, with Elder John E. Page, John Gaylord, and William Marks, formerly members and ministers in the church in the times of Joseph the Seer, and we with a few other resolved to meet together for religious services when practicable and also have Elders Page,
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Gaylord, and Landers preach the gospel as they might find opportunity. Our efforts in this direction did not meet with desired success, for it seemed the needed favor of God through the Holy Spirit was sadly lacking.
In the latter part of November, 1856, after nightfall, two young men entered my store, and at first sight I was impressed that they were Latter Day Saint ministers, though in those time we never saw or heard of any ministers of that denomination in our vicinity, except the ones before mentioned. I perceived that they watched my movements with manifest interest, and this continuing, I at length concluded that they wished to confer with me on business matters. I therefore stepped forward and accosted them, when the younger of the two, who afterward proved to be Edmund C. Briggs, called me by name and greeted me with "Good evening." He explained who he was, and introduced me to his companion, Samuel H. Gurley.
In questioning them I learned they had just come from Amboy and desired to visit with me. I at once took them to my home, and on the way there asked them as to what called them into that region at that time, and they said they were sent forth of God by prophecy from Zarahemla, Wisconsin, to visit the Latter Day Saints and tell them that the Lord was reviving his work, had begun the reorganization of the church in that region, that the Spirit of the Lord was teaching and guiding the Saints in a great degree, and that it had been revealed to them, at various times, in various places,
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and through different persons, that the time was near at hand when the Lord would call Joseph, the son of Joseph Smith the Seer, to take the lead of the church. In this they seemed very sanguine, but it all sound to me as idle tales. However, I was glad to meet them, for in those times we seldom saw any on who claimed to be a Latter Day Saint. On reaching my home I introduced them to my family, had refreshments prepared for them, and resolved to learn what I could in respect to their faith and the work they represented.
That evening we engaged, in a room by ourselves, in a spirited discussion of the matters they presented, and continued it until the next morning near three o'clock. It was now Sunday, and after our morning repast we again repaired to the parlor, and after fervent prayer as before, in which we all joined, we again entered on a critical discussion of the theories advocated by them. This continued until near noon, and it found us no nearer united than at the beginning. They now seem to abandon the idea of convincing me of their theories by argument, and in order not to appear opinionated or beyond the reach of argument, I said to them if they knew their position to be correct on matters under consideration to go ahead and that I might possibly learn it by and by.
Brother Gurley, who had be the chief speaker hitherto, seemed reluctant to say anything further, whereupon Brother Briggs rose to his feet, took the Book of Mormon from the table, leafed it over rapidly as if seeking to find some particular passage,
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and then placing his hand to his mouth and trembling from head to feet, while the tears coursed down his cheeks, seemed to read these words, "I, the Lord, will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will forgive whom I will forgive." But these words are nowhere to be found in the Book of Mormon. Just as soon as he began speaking, the Holy Spirit, such as had borne witness to me of the doctrine of Christ at the beginning, seemed to fill the room and also the persons of all present with its enlightening, convincing, and heavenly power. Bro. Briggs raised his right hand and broke forth with a prophecy directed to me, declaring what had been my desires and intentions, declaring also that I would soon be released from my temporal affairs, would be called to the ministry, would be made "an apostle of the Lamb of God," be called to preach the gospel and "thresh the Gentiles by the power of God's Spirit"; said that the Lord would soon call Joseph, the son of Joseph the Seer, to be president of the church, and that the standard then erected would never fall, also that the work of the Lord would go forth in power and triumph until its final completion. He pronounced by prophecy the blessing of health upon my household, this, no doubt, referring to my wife and our little daughter, Mary Caroline, both of who for the sixteen month preceding had been in very poor health, but after which they became strong and vigorous. When Brother Briggs sat down, Brother Gurley arose and spoke with great liberty and power in the spirit of prophecy.
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The manifestation of the Spirit of God on this occasion was greater, more searching and assuring than anything I had ever before witnessed.
Relating these experiences to my wife, and assuring her that the young men were indeed the servants of God (a matter she had doubted), she replied that she knew they were such, for the Lord, in answer to her secret prayer that morning, had given her witness that they were.
During the brief stay of these two inexperienced young ministers, the Lord gave abundant evidence though the Holy Spirit that they were his servants, and that their mission was indeed ordained of him.
As the holidays approached, Mrs. Blair and I went by railway and sleigh to Blanchardville, Wisconsin, near one hundred and fifty miles distant, meeting with Father Zenos Gurley and family at Yellowstone, and then with the branch called Zarahemla. Here we witnessed most interesting and convincing evidences that they were the Lord's people, for the love of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit were plainly manifest among them. Here we learned further of the wonderful manner in which the Lord had blessed and guided them in respect to the work of reorganization and the coming in the near future of Joseph, the son of Joseph, to be the president of the church.
Soon after our return home, I went to Amboy and there learned of the remarkable healing of Brother Jotham T. Barrett under the administration of Elders Gurley and Briggs when on their way to my
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place. I knew he had been a great sufferer from bronchial consumption for a long time. He had been pronounced beyond all help by his physicians, but when these young elders called upon him, and by his request prayed for him and his family, it was revealed by the Holy Spirit that the brother would be fully restored; whereupon they administered to him according to the order of the church and he soon recovered excellent health, lived many years thereafter, and died of other causes, triumphant in the faith.
In the spring of 1857 typhoid pneumonia was very prevalent in and around East Paw Paw. I had what was evidently a severe attack of the same, suffered extremely for a time, believed God would heal me by the prayer of faith, and therefore, in the absence of elders, requested my wife to join with me in prayer for my relief. She sang a verse or two of a familiar hymn, kneeled in prayer at my bedside, and in a few moments I felt sensibly and joyfully the presence of God's Spirit in my heart, from whence it spread with its healing power throughout my entire person, giving instant release from pain and fever, imparting sweet restfulness of joy and spirit which was immediately followed by gentle perspiration and quiet sleep from which I awoke next morning completely relieved of every symptom disease, and after a short time entered upon my usual duties.
Not long after this I had a most peculiar and instructive vision, whether a night vision or otherwise it matters little. I saw myself in a low valley
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walking alongside a deep, crooked, filthy stream. Coming to the head thereof, I stood on the shore of a pool of filthy water in the midst of which I saw a large, powerful, wily serpent. On the brink of the pool there stood a woman clad in garments once rich and beautiful. In form and feature she seemed perfect, but her countenance, her raiment, and her general appearance indicated degradation, defilement, and sorrow. She was looking directly into the face of the serpent, and the serpent seemed to have enthralled her with his continuous, searching, seductive gaze. Tears fell rapidly from her eyes, and occasionally she would heave a deep sigh. My heart was sorely pained as I contemplated her deplorable condition, and I said to her, "Woman, what is the cause of your sorrow?" To this she replied, "My husband has left me." Instantly it flashed upon my mind that I knew her husband and knew him to be a just, a pure and noble man, and I also knew that he had put her away because of her unfaithfulness to her marriage vows. I then said to her, "I know your husband, and I know that if you will return to him, confess your wrong-doing and assure him that you will for ever be a faithful wife, he will forgive you the past, receive you in confidence and love, and your future will be full of joy and prosperity." Her heart seem touched with hope, she broke away from the gaze of the serpent, a smile lit up her countenance, and she turned her face toward the home of her husband, the serpent meanwhile casting vicious glances toward me, and then rushing with all its fiendish power to the edge
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of the pool, and, seizing with its mouth a piece of ice, turned upon its back and died.
I then saw the woman step briskly up a narrow pathway to an eminence of surpassing beauty, and following saw her press on till she reached a palace, the beauty, magnificence, and perfection of which were beyond all human understanding. The material of which it was composed, its proportions in length, in breadth, in height, in ornamentation and surroundings, filled the soul with a sense of their absolute perfection. The surrounding landscape, including garden and field, fruit and forest -- trees, overhanging heavens brighter than the most beauteous summer skies, the vision was filled with a picture of felicity such as never greeted the eye of mortals. I then was given to know that I must enter upon my labors as a fisherman. Not long after this I was given to understand the vision and know its meaning. The woman was the church; Christ was the husband; the serpent was Satan; the home of the husband and its surroundings were the glorious conditions to which the church will ultimately come, and my ministrations in the premises pointed to my calling and work as a servant of the church, for Christ's sake.
From this time forward to the spring of 1859 the few who constituted the Reorganized Church were greatly blessed and comforted and taught of God's Spirit in proportion as they lived faithfully before the Lord, the Spirit frequently testifying at different times, in different places, that the Lord would soon call his servant Joseph to lead his church.
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At the close of a conference held near Beaverton, Boone County, Illinois, April 6, 1859, on the request of Brethren William Aldrich and J.C. Gaylord, of Burlington, Wisconsin, Brother Edmund C. Briggs and myself took a mission into their neighborhood, teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the work of the Reorganization. These brethren had heard of the revival of the work of the church, and on attending the conference at Bearverton received such numerous and satisfying evidences that the work was ordained of God and approved by his Spirit, that they readily united with it and sought earnestly to advance its interests. When going from Beaverton to Burlington we encountered little opposition by persons once member of the Strangite church, but who had abandoned that and cared little or nothing for any kind of religion. Some of these, however, after mature investigation, joyfully received us and the work we were representing. The Holy Spirit wrought mightily in many instances in their conversion, and a prosperous, happy branch of the church was organized; its numbers greatly increased and its faith fully confirmed by the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God in the very place where disgrace and desolation had befallen Strangism.
After spending some weeks in Wisconsin we returned to Illinois, preaching by the way. Near Waukesha, Wisconsin, at the residence of Almon H. White, we met a peculiar phase of spiritualism. The mediums claimed to personate the dead, a Doctor Woodruff also pretending by the power of spirits
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to personate both the living and the dead. Many predictions were made by these mediums concerning the work of the church we represented, also concerning other persons, which time proved utterly false, as we had expected. Some of the spiritualists whom we met in Wisconsin had been Latter Day Saints, but had reached the conclusion that spiritualism would finish up what was begun in these latter days by the coming forth of the fullness of the gospel.
June 10 and 11, 1859, a conference was held at the schoolhouse near Edwin Cadwell's, Amboy, Illinois, Elder Z. H. Gurley presiding. This was one of the most spiritual seasons enjoyed in those days by the faithful Saints. William Marks, president of the High Council of the church and of the stake at Nauvoo up to the death of Joseph the Seer, met with us for the first time. He came with Brethren Aldrich and Gaylord at their urgent request, though doubtingly and reluctantly. But before the close of the first day's exercises, which were devoted to prayer, testimony, and partaking of the sacrament, the Lord gave him convincing and satisfactory evidence, by his Spirit, that the work we were then engaged in had his divine approval. The gifts abounded with the little congregation in a very notable manner. The gift of tongues was given to the little twelve-year-old daughter of Brother C. G. Lanphear and she arose and spoke therein as the Spirit gave utterance. A young married sister, Helen Pomeroy, a stranger to Brother Marks, arose under the power of the Spirit, walked down the
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aisle, and coming directly in from of him, he then sitting in the stand with Elder Gurley, lifting up her hands she said to him, "Thus saith the Lord; O thou man of God! In times past thou hast sat with my servant Joseph the Seer; and in times near to come thou shalt sit in council with his son. When I called my servant Joseph he was as a lone tree; but when I shall call his son he shall be as one of a forest."
Upon this Brother Marks arose, weeping with joy and gladness, and said, "This manifestation I know is by the Spirit of God. It is the same Spirit the faithful Saints ever enjoyed when I first received the gospel in the state of New York, and which we also enjoyed in Kirtland, Missouri, and at Nauvoo, when we lived uprightly before the Lord. I know by the evidences I see and feel her to-day that God loves and owns this people and the work they have in hand." And immediately when he sat down Elder Gurley explained briefly the former position and works of Brother Marks in the church, and then Brother Marks, upon vote, was received into fellowship in the church with his former priesthood.
This conference provided for the publication of hymn-book based upon the hymns published in a former edition, selected and compiled by Sr. Emma, the wife of Joseph the Seer.
Elder E. C. Briggs and myself were here appointed a mission in Illinois and Iowa, and provision made for us to go as far west as Council Bluffs. A goodly number were added to the church
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by baptism at this conference, and the Saints were greatly strengthened and confirmed.
June 21, Elder Briggs and I left home to prosecute our mission in the south and west, and we continued on to LaSalle and Chillicothe and then to Brother Rufus Benjamin's, three miles east of Princeville, Peoria County, Illinois. In all these places we distributed tracts, talked with the people, building up the interests of the work the best we could. Near the latter place we were opposed by Elder A. Brooks, who, with others, sought to organize a church base chiefly on the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Jehiel and Phineas Bronson with their families received us kindly. From this point we traveled on, fasting and praying, until we reached the vicinity of Victoria, Knox County, where we met Brethren Harvey Strong, T. G. Cook, Joseph Wilder, and their families, who received us joyfully. After spending a short season here we proceeded on to Burlington, Iowa, and were received cordially by Brethren Morton, Webster, and others.
July 1, we reached Montrose and Nauvoo, from when we went to String Prairie, Iowa, where we met a goodly number of former members of the church, distributed tracts among them and conversed of church affairs as we had opportunity. Here we were in doubt whether we should go to Keokuk and take the steamer for Council Bluffs, or go directly west overland, through a wide and sparsely settled country. But making the matter a subject of prayer, we soon perceived it was best to go the latter way, and we therefore proceeded on,
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generally on foot, passing through Farmington, Mount Sterling, Keosauqua, Pittsburg, Stringtown, Centerville, and Corydon to Garden Grove, making the distance between Centerville and Garden on the fifth day of July, over forty mile, on foot.
Here we learned that there were some former members of the church living at Franklin, near by, and also some at what is now known as Pleasanton. Going to Franklin, we met Brethren Jefferson Copland and Oliver Hoskins. We held a series of meetings at this place, and though sharply opposed by Campbellites, Methodists, and Dunkards, we nevertheless succeeded in baptizing near twenty members and organizing a church.
On the twelfth day of July we reached Brother G. M. Hinkle's. He was once a noted man in the church, but was now a Rigdonite. Here we also found Ebenezer Robinson, a Rigdonite, and president of the project Iowa and Missouri line railroad. We remained here until the 21st and formed the acquaintance of George Morey, Austin Cowles, R. Booth, A. W. Moffett, Joseph Gold, John Keown, and their families, Joseph Younger, and others, all professedly interest in the work we represented.
On the evening of the 17th we held service at the house of Brother George Morey, and at the close we were requested to administer to Helen, his daughter to Helen, his daughter, who was confined to her bed by liver disease. It pleased the Lord to give her relief straightway, and on Monday, after preaching to a goodly number at ten o'clock, we proceeded to Grand River where I baptized ten persons, Miss Helen
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Morey being one of the number. Another one of the number was a Miss Elizabeth Hartman, who the evening before made light of our administration to Miss Morey, saying she too would "be a Mormon if Helen was healed." And it pleased God to heal the latter also of a long-standing affliction, this blessing being sealed upon her by Brother Edmund Briggs in her confirmation the evening following. These two cases of healing were, for many reasons, very notable, for both were sorely afflicted and were likewise but recently instructed in the gospel of Christ.
Leaving this happy little band, Brother Hinkle took us by carriage to Decatur City, Franklin, and thence on by way of Prairie City, Hopeville, and Afton to Fontanelle. Parting with Brother Hinkle here, we proceeded on to Lewis and thence to Wheeler's Grove. Here we learned of a small branch of Cutlerites about ten miles away on Farm Creek, presided over by Father Calvin Beebe. Leaving Brother Levi Graybill's, who lived near Wheeler's Grove, we went on to Brother John Smith's and thence to Brother Beebe's, who received us with Christian kindness and patiently investigated our claims and testimonies concerning the Reorganized Church and the predicted coming of Joseph, the son of Joseph the Seer, to be its president.
It should be borne in mind that a chief feature of our mission work was to tell the scattered Saints concerning the latter-day apostasy, the fact that God had begun to reorganize his church on its original foundations and was approving and blessing it
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with his Spirit, and to tell them also that the Lord had revealed to many by his Spirit, at different times and in different places, that the time was near at hand when he would Joseph the son of Joseph the Seer to stand at the head of the church, also teaching and exhorting all to faithfully serve God, seek his blessings and obtain testimonies for themselves that the tidings we bore and the word we preached were both ordained and approved of God.
When Sunday arrived, the thirty-first day of July, it found Elder Briggs suffering from the leading symptoms of typhoid fever, which had afflicted him for the past three days, and so sorely at times that he was well nigh prostrated. When between Indian Town and Wheeler's Grove, on the 29th, he was so overcome that we went aside from the road, and he desired to be permitted to go to sleep. After prayer and administration we were reminded, vividly, of the experiences of the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, when an unnatural sleep was thrown over them, as recorded in Matthew 26:40-45. We now felt it important that he should obtain relief at the hands of the Lord, for we were conscious that we would be called upon to take part in the services at the meeting on that day. We accordingly repaired to a clump of cottonwood trees back in the corn-field, and sitting down beneath the shade we prayerfully deliberated upon the best course to pursue, and resolved that God would hear and answer prayer in our behalf, and that Brother Briggs would be restored. We united in fervent pleadings to the Lord for his special aid, and this we
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did three times, when the Holy Spirit came with cheering power, witnessing that our prayers were heard, and in a moment Brother Briggs exclaimed, weeping, "Thank God, I'm healed. That power of sleepiness has all left me!"
Returning to the house, we were soon on our way with Father Beebe and his family to the residence of Brother Newton Richards, where services had been appointed. When Father Beebe had open the service of the occasion, he stated to the people that Joseph the Seer taught them in years gone by, that when any important matters are presented to the Saints and they had no means at hand to determine as to their correctness, they should then humbly seek the Lord in fervent prayer, asking him for wisdom and knowledge on which to decide. He said, "These brethren brought to me statements concerning the soon coming of Joseph the son of Joseph to take the presidency of the church, and I was unable to decide as to whether such were true or not. I therefore have sought unto the Lord, as Brother Joseph instructed us, and the Lord has witnessed to me by his Spirit that these are his servants. I therefore present them to you as his servants that we all may hear what they have to say."
Upon this, by request, Brother Briggs gave a brief account of the rise of the work of the Reorganization in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, giving many testimonies of the Spirit had concerning the coming of young Joseph to preside over the church. I then followed with a discourse of the latter-day apostasy, the need of a
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revival and reorganization of the church, treated of the law of lineage, also of the promises made in the revelations and church records concerning the posterity of Joseph the Seer in connection with the presidency of the church and the sucessorship of the Seer.
At the close of this a young brother, James R. Badham, Cutlerite, rose and spoke in tongues with much power, bearing testimony to our mission, and stating that the Saints under Father Cutler had enjoyed the same Spirit that had directed the work we were engaged in. This interpretation was through Father John Smith, an aged, noble, white-haired brother who, like Simeon of old, had been waiting for the consolation of Israel. Father Smith further said by the Spirit, pointing to Brother Briggs and myself, "These brethren are on a mission of great importance. The Lord has been with them, and he will still sustain them; and they will be the means in the hands of the Lord of laying the foundation of a great work in all this upper country." The Spirit was poured out upon many others, some of whom likewise bore witness to our mission.
We now began to perceive why it was that Satan, for the few days previous, had sought to render Brother Briggs, the chief witness, powerless to carry forward his mission work.
Leaving the Saints and friends rejoicing in the experiences had on Sunday, the next day, in company with Brother Levi Graybill, we went on to a small settlement five miles east of Council Bluffs, distributing tracts among scattered Saints, and
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passed on to Council Bluffs the second day of August. On the 5th we went to Florence, a point four miles north of Omaha, and visited among the few Brighamites located at that point, also with some Saints who had returned from Salt Lake disgusted with matters of religion as they found them there.
On the seventh day of August, having returned to Council Bluffs and holding services twice near Park's Mills, we were sharply opposed by some who had abandoned Mormonism and taken up with spiritualism and infidelity; and though young and inexperienced in gospel work, nevertheless the Lord stood by us and enabled us to both defend and advocate the work we had in hand with gratifying success.
The 9th found us, in company with Brother Archibald Patten, at Union Grove, the guests of Brother Samuel Wood. At this point we held meetings, the Lord confirming our efforts to the joy of many. Here we administered to old Sr. McGahan and her granddaughter Sabrina, both of whom were lying ill of fever, and the Lord raised them up. Some here testified that we had been shown them in dream and vision before we came.
On the 14th we held services at Bigler's Grove, preaching to many interested listeners. We met with some opposition, though we found some friendly to our work. On the 16th at Galland's Grove we called on a number, former members of the church, among them William VanAusdall, Uriah Roundy, J. A. McIntosh, Alexander Hunt,
24 MEMOIRS OF
Alexander McCord, and others. After this we called at Calhoun, Magnolia, and some other points, at all of which places we found former members of the church, the most of whom had been following the fortunes of Brigham Young, Baneemy-Thompson, or J.J. Strang, and seemed like sheep without a shepherd.
On the 28th we held a two-day meeting, agreeable to previous notice, near the residence of David Fry, in Bigler's Grove, and Elders Jehiel Savage, J. M. Adams, Lebbeus T. Coons, Charles C. Perrin, and others, on invitation, took part in our services. After this we visited and preached at various points in Harrison, Shelby, and Pottawattamie Counties, and on the 31st we organized the Union Grove Branch with eighteen members.
On Sunday, the eleventh day of September, at Farm Creek, Brother Briggs baptized Calvin A. Beebe and Angeline, his wife, also Mrs. Submit Beebe, and at our confirmation and testimony-meeting the gifts of prophecy and tongues were manifested in a large degree.
The 12th, we reached Manti, near where is now Shenandoah. Here we found about forty families under the leadership of Elder Alpheus Cutler, the most of them claiming that he was the successor to Joseph the Seer, though he himself disclaimed that calling in conversation with us; indeed, Elders Cutler and Wheeler Baldwin said to me that the former did not claim to be the prophet, seer, and revelator to the church; nevertheless he claimed to preside over the church and the priesthood.
W. W. BLAIR. 25
On the 14th we preached to a small audience, the people seeming to be afraid to investigate our position, or to have theirs investigated. I give these details in order that the reader may discern the exact state of affairs as we found them in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska on our first mission to those places.
Leaving Brother Briggs to labor in Western Iowa, on the fifteenth day of September I went by way of Clarinda, Hawleyville, and Gravity, to Lexington, in Taylor County; thence to Franklin, near Leon, where I held a series of meetings. Brother Archibald Patten had kindly taken us by carriage to many points in Western Iowa and had brought us thus far on our journey east. Calling at Brother George Morey's, near Pleasanton, and holding some meetings, on the 22d we started by the way of Franklin, Garden Grove, going thence to Montrose and Burlington, where I took train for home on the 28th, having been absent from home near four months.
In the November following, I went preaching down on Fox River in the vicinity of Sandwich and other points in that region. On the 18th we organized the Fox River Branch. About this time Sister Mahala Rogers, wife of Brother I. L. Rogers, had been suffering for some days from a felon on her hand. Various remedies had been used and but little relief obtained. Learning these facts and feeling powerfully constrained by the Spirit of God, I went out and in secret prayed to the Lord fervently that she might be healed; and while engaged in
26 MEMOIRS OF
prayer the witness of the Holy Spirit was given, assuring me that she would be relieved. Returning straightway to the house, I had been seated but a moment when Sister Rogers, coming in where Brother Rogers and I were, went to him, unwrapping her afflicted hand, and said, "Why, Israel, my hand which has pained me so terribly, now feels so strangely. The pain is entirely gone and it feels so funny." Prompted by the Spirit I went at once to them and told her in the name of the Lord that her hand should be entirely healed, and thereupon anointed it in the name of the Lord and prayed for the confirmation of the blessing. From that time forward she had no further trouble from the affliction, and her hand was made whole, as she testifies unto this day.
About this time Brother A. M. Wilsey and myself held a series of meetings at the Rogers' schoolhouse, we staying nights at Brother I. L. Rogers'.
About midnight, on one occasion, Brother Rogers called us up to sit with the family, saying that his wife's sister, Mrs. Roxy Austin, a Methodist widow lady, was very sick, nigh unto death, and that she would not probably live until morning. On arising we learned that she had been seriously ill for some days past, that she had been treated therefore in a medical way with no relief. Under constraint of the Holy Spirit we went to her room, where Sister Rogers was watching and ministering for her. Talking to her of the goodness of God, his willingness and power to help the needy, assuring her that we had known many instances of healing in answer
W. W. BLAIR. 27
to prayer, she at length signified her desire to be anointed and prayed for in the name of the Lord. Brother Wilsey proceeded to anoint her and when, in doing so, he said, "I anoint you in the name of Jesus Christ," at that moment the Holy Spirit came with power, giving assurance that the Lord was mindful of our needs; and, laying our hands upon her, she trembled and wept, rejoicing in her instantaneous recovery. Truly the Lord magnified his name on this occasion, and to God and the Lamb be all the glory,
Ten days after this, Mrs. Austin, with a goodly number more, were baptized in the name of the LordJesus. From this time forward to the close of the year 1859, I continued preaching at various points in Fox River Valley; also at Paw Paw, and Amboy in Lee County, Illinois, a few uniting with the church by baptism.
[ 27 ]
The church, though expecting Joseph would be called of God to come to them and preside at no distant day, nevertheless had no thought of his coming until the scattered Saints, including the Utah Mormons, would be notified of the promises given through prophecy concerning him. But the very first of February, 1860, I received a letter dated at Blanchardville, Wisconsin, January 29, 1860, from Elder Z. H. Gurley, Sr., from which I now copy as follows:
28 MEMOIRS OF
"I rejoice in God that the work goes on so finely, and I know that if we are united and do what the Lord commands us, the year 1860 will not pass before the prophet is among us. This the Lord has revealed to us * * * Last evening in our prayer-meeting we asked the Lord to instruct us and we were told that some years ago he called and ordained seven men apostles, to take the oversight of this work, telling us that it was his will that the senior should preside, but the church appointed another, and inasmuch as he was upheld by faith he acknowledged him. * * * Brother Blair, I have got good news to tell you and you may get ready to praise the Lord * * * The Lord told us the night we got the commandment [to organize], that many would fall, but some would remain and they should be a means of restoring, &c. * * * As to Edmund (Briggs), I do not think that it is the mind of the Spirit that he come to the conference. You recollect that the testimony of the Spirit one year ago last June in your house, through Samuel (Gurley) was, that when he comes back he should come with the prophet. I am satisfied that he will do it. I have written to him as our counsel that from this time he visit the churches and let his labor be with them and preach organization to them. That is what this work is for, and I would not recommend the addition of any more old members before we organize. We have got enough to do that work, and we have but little time to instruct. We must interdict all controversy on doctrinal points by outsiders at our conference. When we get there we will go right
W. W. BLAIR. 29
ahead with it. I have laid awake hours thinking of it. The Lord has told us that many are preparing for deliverance, and he says, 'Organize, that deliverance may come.'
"Well, brother, preach organization; pray organization; talk organization. Our time is limited to do this work in; and if we do not do it within the time, the Lord has told us that we shall perish; but inasmuch as we hearken to his counsel and do as he bids us, we will do it and just escape, and that is all.
"I think it would be well to have as many come from Iowa to conference as possible, and otherwheres.
"It would be well for the brethren in Brother (Israel) Rogers' settlement to make arrangements to help feed those who will come to conference. Let them furnish as much as you think necessary and it shall be accounted to them as tithing. Call on all that are able to furnish and see that it is done. We must have all together that we can get, for we must organize; and we must stop together until we get all things right. We will select beforehand all we can, as Bro. Marks suggests, to expedite.
"How is it about another Herald? The Spirit has commanded that we give a general invitation to all in our churches to come together on the 6th (of April) to organize. Is there money enough to publish another? Please write on receipt.
"I think you would do well to write to each president of the church west that you are acquainted with. We must keep this before the church continually until done."
30 MEMOIRS OF
Not long after receiving the above letter, perhaps the first days of March, it was revealed through the Spirit in an evening prayer- meeting at Brother Royal Stone's, near Amboy, Illinois, that young Joseph Smith would come to our conference, April 6, in Amboy, to take the presidency of the church. This was unlooked for and startling information to us all. On the evening of March 19, Brother I. L. Rogers called on me at my home near Amboy, saying that Brother William Marks had just received a letter from young Joseph Smith, Nauvoo, Illinois, in which he said he intended to come to the Amboy conference; also that he desired to counsel with Brother Marks and others of the elders and therefore he requested him (Brother Marks) to visit him at once at Nauvoo and bring with him such elders as he might select. Brother Marks, in view of this, had selected Brother Rogers and myself to accompany him.
I at once arranged and went with Brother Rogers, joining Brother Marks at Mendota, from whence we went via Burlington to Nauvoo where we had interviews with Joseph and his mother in respect to the doctrinal views of the Reorganized Church, the work of Joseph the Seer and the relationship of the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon to that work. To their inquiries we replied that the church held that the doctrines, principles, and rules for church government set forth in them were supreme; that the ministry and membership were bound to honor and observe them, and that these two, with the Bible, constituted the
W. W. BLAIR. 31
written basis upon which the church must ever be builded, and be the authority by which it should be governed. With this they seemed much pleased, and Joseph then said that he and his mother would meet with us in conference on the sixth day of April.
Returning to our homes, letters were written to different branches abroad, informing them of the fact that Joseph had determined to attend the coming conference and unite with the Reorganization.
A council was held on the fourth day of April, over which Elder William Marks presided, to consider and prepare conference business.
Joseph and his mother came on the 5th and attended the prayer-meeting in the evening at Brother Royal Stone's, where a very spiritual and interesting season was enjoyed.
In the afternoon of the 6th, conference having been organized in the city of Amboy, Joseph set forth his call and claims to the presidency of the church, stating in his address, which was delivered most of the time in tears, that he had come to the conference upon the call and by a higher power than that of man, and that without such divine call he would not come. Upon the close of his address he was, upon motion, received as the president of the church and was ordained under the hands of President William Marks and Apostles Z. H. Gurley, Samuel Powers, and W. W. Blair.
On the evening of the 8th Brother Joseph Smith and Sr. Emma Bidamon, his mother, with Brother and Sister I. L. Rogers, Brother E. C. Briggs, Sr. Helen Pomeroy, and Sister E. Whitcomb, spent
32 MEMOIRS OF
the evening at my house on the farm, two miles west of Amboy. During the evening Sister Emma related many incidents in respect to church affairs which were both interesting and instructive. She said Joseph, her former husband, very reluctantly consented to allow his name placed in nomination for the Presidency of the United States, a matter urged upon him by two or more consecutive councils in Nauvoo, prominent in which were Brigham Young and some others of the Twelve. She stated that in those times his attention was so taken up with persistent appeals from ambitious, aspiring men, that good men like Father Marks did not have much chance to be heard by him. Joseph at first pronounced the scheme unwise and uncalled for. In this Sister Emma concurred, but their judgment was overruled and Joseph yielded on the claims set forth by his blind political advisers, that in permitting his name to go prominently before the nation and the world in a political way, it would give popularity and impetus to the work of the church.
This statement is due the memory of both Joseph and Emma, and is essential to a correct understanding of the causes that led Joseph into such unfavorable notice politically and which eventuated largely in causing his assassination.
Receiving an appointment at this conference to labor in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, I soon began preaching near Sandwich, also in Piano, Mission, and other points in Illinois, meeting with fair success, the Lord adding numbers to the church and confirming the work with signs following.
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June 3 and 4, I attended a district conference and a two-day meeting held near Sandwich in the large hay barn of Brother I. L. Rogers. The gift of prophecy, tongues and interpretations, with other manifestations, were bestowed upon the Saints in a very large measure. A goodly number were baptized during and at the close of this session. Just after dark the evening of the 4th a tornado swept from west to east about four miles north of where we were then holding meeting. We were not disturbed by it, though some of us saw the storm passing by; but the next day the newspapers were full of details concerning its ravages in Eastern Iowa and portions of Illinois. We afterward learned that Elder Jason W. Briggs, who with Elders William Marks and Z. H. Gurley was holding a conference at Council Bluffs, Iowa, preached the same afternoon, and about the same hour the tornado started in Central Iowa, from this text in Jeremiah, 23: 19, 20: "Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly."
At our conference it was told Elder James Blakeslee and myself that in our mission to the East we would be greatly blessed of God in our labors, and that power would be given us of the Lord to cast out devils. We labored some among the branches on Fox River, also at Mission and Batavia. At the
34 MEMOIRS OF
latter place it was foretold that great destructions were at hand.
On the nineteenth day of June, Mr. Isaac Groover, residing near Newark, Illinois, related to us that he heard Elder William O. Clark, in 1844, when preaching to a large congregation soon after the martyrdom of Joseph the Seer, prophesy that the time was near at hand when "the great arm of power in the United States" would be broken and a fearful, terrible war would follow.
Brother Blakeslee and I now turned our steps toward the East to prosecute the mission received at the April conference, and so proceeded on by the way of Mission Branch to Ottawa, and thence to Long Point, twenty-five miles distant, where we stopped with a Brother and Sister William Eaton, preaching the word as opportunity offered. We then went to Bloomington, met with some Hedrickites, held two meetings, and on the second day of July proceeded on to Cincinnati, Ohio, where we tarried a few days preaching the word and baptizing a few persons. From this point Brother Blakeslee went on to Cardington, Cleveland, and Kirtland, and I to Wheeling, and to Pittsburg and its vicinity. At all these points we preached the word, some were added to the church and many left investigating.
In Wheeling and in Pittsburg and vicinity I met with a band of Saints called Bickertonites, under the leadership of one William Bickerton. They usually treated me with marked kindness, though but few of them received our testimony and united with us. Some of the Bickertonites claimed that the Spirit
W. W. BLAIR. 35
of God had revealed to them that their church was "like the church of Philadelphia" mentioned in the revelations of John. One of them claimed that in their new meeting-house at West Elizabeth she, in vision, saw a woman, clothed in white, walk into the church and up to and into the pulpit, with a crown of gold in her hand which she presented to the people, but which, none receiving it, she went down from the pulpit, walked out of the church, bearing the crown away. We presented to them the claims of the Reorganized Church with Joseph Smith as its president, but none of them there received us. I found them professing to believe the Bible and Book of Mormon, also believing revelations and doctrinal teachings delivered by Mr. William Bickerton and others, but quite heedless, and ignorant in a measure, of the Doctrine and Covenants.
In Pittsburg and Alleghany cities I formed the acquaintance of Brethren and Sisters Josiah Ells, Richard Savory, James McDowell, Joseph Parsons, Matthew Smith, and a few others, all of whom received me kindly, many of them receiving with gladness the tidings we bore. .
After planning the work in these two cities I proceeded on to Kirtland, Ohio, where I joined Brother James Blakeslee who had reached there a few days before and had been visiting the people and preaching the word, arousing no little interest. Here I met Brethren James Twist and family, Martin Harris, Leonard Rich, and others, all professing deep interest in the latter-day work. The
36 MEMOIRS OF
town had a sorry look, and the condition of the Temple was pitiful. Its walls inside and out, also its trimmings and decorations, were badly defaced. It appeared that Z. Brooks, Russel Huntley, and others had effected a small organization and proposed to refit and refurnish the Temple. These parties offered us some opposition and we found it best to preach a series of sermons in the Academy Hall instead of in the Temple.
On Sunday, the nineteenth day of August, after our service in the afternoon in the hall, Brother Blakeslee and I attended a meeting in the Temple where Simeon Atwood, of Erie, Pennsylvania, and Leonard Rich, of Kirtland, were the speakers. By their request Elder Blakeslee and myself took seats in the stand with them and Martin Harris.
Elder Atwood was a member of the Brighamite church. He undertook to preach a discourse on the new covenant, taking his text from Hebrews, but failing of success he in a few moments sat down.
Upon this a tall, long-haired, blue-eyed, ashy-complexioned, but well dressed man who had attended our last meeting in the hall, and who claimed to have been moved to come from New York City to learn what the Mormons proposed to do at Kirtland, arose and asked what practical thing they proposed doing.
Leonard Rich rose up and replied with stentorian voice, and sought to set forth his views of what should be done. At this juncture the long-haired stranger sprang to his feet, uttered an unearthly yell, hissed, stamped his feet, shook his head, and looked like the embodiment of evil.
W. W. BLAIR. 37
Mr. Rich at once dropped into his seat, and the stranger sprang upon the partition between the seats, came to the front, facing the stand, stamping, hissing, and making other violent demonstrations. Martin Harris, who sat on my left, whispered to me, saying, "I guess he has got the devil in him."
Feeling assured that the man would leap upon the stand, and the Spirit admonishing me that the meeting was not mine, I slipped out on the right side of the stand, Brother Blakeslee moving out from the east end at the same moment, and immediately, at one bound, the stranger sprang squarely upon the speaker's desk, Harris, Rich, and Atwood leaving it with haste; and with another spring he reached the second stand, with another the third stand, and with still another the fourth and highest stand, this being on the Melchisedec priesthood side of the temple. On reaching this highest point, he turned and faced the frightened, fleeing congregation, and stripping off his broadcloth coat, tearing it in strings and shreds, he again stamped and hissed and shook his head, swinging his torn coat and shouting to the people repeatedly. "Now is come the time of your trial!"
He then sprang down from one stand to the other and last, and then onto the partition between the seats in the body of the Temple, on which he ran across the Aaronic priesthood side, and with a bound sprang up to the first, second, third, and fourth stands on that side, where he repeated the same performance he did upon the opposite stands, and then jumping down from one stand to another and again
38 MEMOIRS OF
onto the partition, ran half way across, turned to the right, running on the back of one of the pews to near its end, and then, with a hiss, he thrust forward his right hand toward some ladies who were seeking exit at the door into the vestibule. Upon this a young lady, Miss Whitley, a school-teacher, who we learned had been a spiritual medium, fell prostrate and apparently lifeless upon the floor. Her mother, Mrs. Atwood, and perhaps other ladies, seized her in their arms and bore her out to the threshold of the outer door of the Temple, where she was seized with spasms and cramping, powerless to speak or move; and having followed up closely, Brother Blakeslee and I, moved by the constraint of the Holy Spirit, laid hands upon her, rebuked the spirit that bound her, lifted her straightway to her feet and gave her into the care of her mother and friends, who led her away to her home.
Looking out upon the people, a large number of them were in tears and all seemed filled with astonishment and consternation. Stepping down upon the street, we turned and saw the before mentioned stranger, his ragged coat rolled up and tucked under his arm, striding down the steps and then down the. street in an excited way, after which we saw him no more. Upon inquiry we learned that he was a prominent spiritual medium, resided in New York, and that his name was _____ Van Deusen. In this transaction we saw the fulfillment of the promise made us in June at the two-day meeting in Brother Rogers' barn.
Leaving Kirtland the twentieth day of August
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we went via Detroit to Brother G. A. Blakeslee's, Galien, Michigan, reaching there the twenty-fourth. Here we held a series of meetings and baptized a number, one of whom was Ezra Thayre, whose name is mentioned in the early revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. He had been wandering for many years without church associations,' but upon attending our meetings he at once recognized the voice of the good Shepherd and readily united with the church. From him we learned much in regard to Joseph the Seer, his early life and his father's family. Brother Thayre had been a bridge, dam, and mill builder in that section of country where Joseph and his father's family had resided in his boyhood, and Father Smith and his sons, including Joseph, had been in Brother Thayre's employ. He told me that, though in humble circumstances in life, the Smith family was an upright and worthy one.
He further said that when Joseph, after translating the Book of Mormon, returned into his region of country with Father Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Oliver Cowdery, he (Brother Thayre) was persuaded by his brother residing in Auburn, New York, to go and hear them set forth their religious views in a meeting near his residence on a Sunday. He said that on reaching the double log house where the meeting was held, he pressed his way through the congregation and took his seat immediately in front of these new preachers, listened to broken remarks by the three others, and then Joseph, taking the Book of Mormon in his hand, proceeded, in
40 MEMOIRS OF
his unlearned manner, to tell the history of its coming forth, and explained how he received the golden plates at the hands of the angel, how he translated the book by the gift of God, with other marvelous matters connected with its coming forth; and he said that immediately upon Joseph's beginning these statements, a new and heavenly power fell upon him, filling his entire being with unspeakable assurance of the truth of the statements, melting him to tears. When Joseph concluded his recital, he said he eagerly stretched forth his hand and said, "Let me have that book." It was handed to him and Brother Thayre kept it, esteeming it a heavenly treasure indeed. He said that afterward he aided them at different times, when he could, in spreading the knowledge of the work to others, but that his family became prejudiced, and they opposed him bitterly.
From Galien we went homeward on the thirtieth day of August, reaching there the second day of September.
During this mission Brother Blakeslee and myself realized the goodness and guidance and power of the Lord in many ways, and proved him to be a present helper in everything of need.
The semiannual conference, October 6 to 9, was held at Brother I. L. Rogers' and was a profitable season. Brother Isaac Sheen, the secretary, in concluding his report of it had this to say:
"There were twenty-two persons baptized and confirmed during the conference, some of them for a renewal of their faith; nine members of the old
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organization united with the church without rebaptism. Prayer-meetings were held every evening during conference and the Spirit of God was poured out upon the Saints in an extraordinary degree. The gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophecy, and other gifts were graciously bestowed 'by the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will,' as in ancient times.
"Thousands more of the old Saints would attend these conferences if they could only realize what unspeakable joy and what inestimable blessings the Lord does there pour out upon his Saints. The world at large would abandon their follies and wickedness and obey the gospel if they could realize the facts concerning the bliss of the Saints when they worship God in spirit and in truth."
At this conference Elder E. C. Briggs and myself were appointed to labor in Western Iowa on missions; and on the sixth day of November, taking with me Brother J. Harvey Blakeslee, we started for the West, going by railway to Ottumwa, Iowa, from whence we proceeded on foot and otherwise to the Franklin Branch, near Garden Grove, reaching there late the night of the 9th. We at once proceeded to hold meetings, and on the afternoon of the 12th baptized and confirmed Mr. Riley Moss and his wife, Mary Ann. Four days prior to this I was warned in a dream that I would have trouble in baptizing. In it I was requested to catch some fish, one of which had baffled the efforts of some who had sought to catch it. Proceeding I at once caught the first one, but knew it was not the one
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that had given so much trouble; but with my second effort I found the second one on my line, and immediately a tall, black personage stepped directly in front of me and resisted me, upon which I sought with all my powers to put him out of the way, and in doing so awoke to consciousness. When going to the water near by to baptize, the people came excitedly from all quarters; and seeing this, my peculiar dream was recalled to mind, and I remarked to a brother (Elijah Hale) that I feared we would have trouble in baptizing, and related to him my strange dream. Noting the peculiar expression of his countenance and his answer, I asked him why he thought I might have trouble, and he replied, "The Dunkards tried to baptize Mrs. Moss, but could not; then the Campbellites tried at two different times and they could not; and after that George M. Hinkle undertook to baptize her, but failed, remarking that he had seen the time when he could have accomplished it."
Inquiring as to why these parties had failed in their efforts, Brother Hale stated that when they sought to immerse her she seemed to be seized with a supernatural power and would break away from them and rush out of the water. Upon this I was impressed that she at those times was under Satanic control, and being extremely desirous she should be baptized if it was the will of God, I stepped aside, out of sight, into the hazelbrush, laid the matter before the Lord in humble prayer, pleading with him that if it were his will that she should receive baptism he would interpose his power and overrule
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that she might receive that ordinance; and while engaged in prayer the Holy Spirit witnessed to me that all was well, to go forward and fear not.
On reaching the place of baptism both sides of the little creek were crowded with an excited, wondering, and expectant people. After prayer and singing I proceeded to baptize Mr. Moss. Then, requesting him to accompany his wife into the water, I thereupon repeated the usual baptismal form of words and was just about to immerse her, when she, seized with trembling and uttering a fearful scream seemed just ready to spring away, and I at once dropped my right hand upon her head and in the name of Jesus Christ rebuked the evil spirit. Upon this she straightened up in her place, I repeated anew the form of words and then immersed her as effectively and as orderly as could be desired. On rising from the water she sprang to the shore, grasped the hands of friends and exclaimed, "Thank God, I now shall have my little children!"
The people seemed dumbfounded and disappointed, for they had evidently expected a reenactment of the scenes attendant upon efforts made to baptize her on former occasions.
We continued to hold meetings here until the 20th, baptized a few more, when the spirit of mobocracy began to manifest itself in many ways, and on that day we went on to Brother George Morey's, near Pleasanton, and found the branch there in a somewhat distracted condition, owing mainly to opposing and dividing efforts made by some of the Rigdonites,
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chief among whom, it was said, was Ebenezer Robinson and Austin Cowles.
On the 22d we proceeded on by horse and buggy kindly furnished us by Brethren David Hall, Elijah Hale, and others, to use during the winter, reaching Mt. Ayr where we were storm bound until the 24th. While here we discussed, among other things, the political condition of our nation, with our zealous and rather intelligent host of the American Hotel, and told him the time was at our doors for the breaking out of a rebellion in the Southern States that would be the most appalling in results of anything known to history. He derided the idea and said if it was attempted the President, with an army of seventy-five thousand, would soon compel submission to the Government. His views were those generally held throughout the Northern States at that time. But many of the Saints in the Reorganized Church had learned by the revelations and teachings given through the Seer that a fearful rebellion would occur, and some of these had learned by prophecy and vision since 1853 that that event was nigh at hand.
On the 24th we visited a Cutlerite branch on Platte River, and went thence to Bedford and Manti, reaching the latter place on the evening of the 25th, where we were the guests of Brother Edwin Fisher, who earnestly hoped the Cutlerite and Reorganized churches would soon be one.
When at Brother Calvin Beebe's, the 30th, we found the newspapers full of exciting news in respect to the prospective secession of the Southern
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States, and yet the masses did not seem to seriously believe it would take place, but the Saints did.
December 3, we went to the Nephi Branch, ten miles southwest of Glenwood, and found that Orson Pratt, of Utah, had fired the minds of some of its members with fears of the approaching rebellion, and polluted the minds of others with the heresy of polygamy, and in this manner caused a division resulting in a few selling out their possessions cheaply and emigrating to Utah soon thereafter.
By constraint of the Spirit we proceeded on to Council Bluffs, Crescent City, and to the North Star Branch, preaching, visiting inquirers, and seeking in every proper way to seek and save the erring ones. Preaching services were well attended, and our prayer- and social-meetings were blessed with a large measure of the gifts and blessings of the Holy Spirit.
Met Brother E. C. Briggs on the 9th, and we labored together in word and ordinance at the aforementioned places and their vicinities till the 20th, when we held an investigation of the requests of one John N. Burton for membership and ordination, at Union Grove. After patient examination of the case, we decided that he desired to unite with and labor in the church for the purpose of building up a badly damaged reputation more than for the glory of God, and so rejected him.
January 10, 1861, when preaching in the hall in Crescent City, I was opposed by ___ Brown, who was in sympathy with Brighamism, and I received testimony by the Spirit that some of the
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Utah "Danites" would become mountain robbers. I continued preaching here and at various points on North Pigeon and Mosquito Creeks, also in Council Bluffs and Galland's Grove, and on Boyer River, assisted by Brethren C. G. Mclntosh, J. H. Blakeslee, and J. A. Mclntosh, having full and attentive congregations, was blessed very greatly, and the Lord added to the church many we hope to meet in the world to come.
In the latter part of January met for the first time some of Elder Lyman Wight's company who had been with him in Texas, and from them I learned that he always taught them "young Joseph" would be called of God to lead the church, also that about 1858 he said to them that the time was near for the coming of Joseph, that a great work in that connection would be done in Western Iowa, and that it was time to leave Texas for that region. These brethren and sisters were zealous, humble and worthy, and at an early time many of them and their children united with the Reorganization.
February 8 found us at Brother J. M. Adams' near Magnolia, and on Sunday, the 10th, we held two interesting meetings near Brother Hosea Pierce's in Raglan Township. The next day we went to Little Sioux and at once began a series of meetings, all of which, as well as those at Raglan, were attended chiefly by former Latter Day Saints and their children, the most of whom received us very cordially and in time united with the church.
During a prayer-meeting the evening of the 14th, at Brother Skinner's, near Crescent City, the Spirit
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testified that the Lord would ere long feed the oppressing leaders of the Utah Saints with judgment.
On the 15th met Brother E. C. Briggs in Council Bluffs, and we continued together preaching the word there, at Crescent City, and in their vicinities, also visiting the scattered Saints and others where we could find or make opportunities, baptized a goodly number, and rejoiced greatly in the cheering and comforting power of the Holy Spirit.
March 1 found us at Brother Jairus M. Putney's, ten miles east of Council Bluffs, where we held meetings, and where for the first time we met Brother Charles Derry. My diary note made then reads as follows: "At this place found Charles Derry, formerly a Brighamite, but who until of late had abandoned all religions. He seems to be a good man and claims to be seeking after truth." From him we learned that the errors and evils of Brighamism as he found them in Utah, saddened and disappointed him to such a degree that he lost faith in all forms of religion and continued in that condition until he received some of the publications of the Reorganized Church, when it pleased God to give him the Spirit in power, testifying to the truth of the work being done by the church, and he thereupon left his home near Columbus, on foot, and came to Iowa to find Brother Briggs and myself, he hearing that we were at or near Council Bluffs. Brother Briggs baptized three at this place, and having an appointment for Farm Creek on the 2d, we proceeded there, accompanied
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by our inquiring friend, whom we persuaded to accompany us.
On Sunday, the 3d, we held preaching services, and I baptized Brother Charles Derry, and in the evening prayer-meeting at Brother Calvin Beebe's, Brethren Briggs, Beebe, and I ordained him to the office of elder. We continued here and at Wheeler's Grove and Mud Creek, preaching, for five days, and then Brother Briggs and self went on by buggy to the Nephi Branch, below Glenwood, Iowa.
On our way there I told Brother Briggs he would not return with me to Illinois, as he then intended, for the night before I saw myself returning alone in the buggy. To this he replied, tartly, "Well, I will." I assured him he would not return; and he with much persistence declared he would. On the 9th he was taken suddenly sick. We remained over Sunday, the 10th, holding services, Brother Briggs so ill as not to render any aid. On the 11th I parted with Brother Briggs, he becoming satisfied that it was the will of God that he should remain in Western Iowa for the present to prosecute his missionary labors, the wisdom of which was fully confirmed to us by subsequent events with which John N. Burton and some others were connected.
Passing on to Fisher's Grove, I continued my journey alone to Brother George Morey's, the evening of the 14th, and preached in the neighborhood till the 19th, baptized four and received in fellowship three on their former membership. Among the number baptized was Miss Amanda Perdun,
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who had been healed of a chronic disease a few days before, under the administration of Elder George Morey, through anointing and the prayer of faith.
The 19th found me at Franklin, between Leon and Garden Grove, where I tarried and preached till the 21st, many believing. My diary for that date reads: "There are now between twenty and thirty who are sufficiently convinced of the doctrine we preach to be baptized, but the threatenings of some old Missouri mobbers and others intimidate them. I look however to see a large number of the people here and in this vicinity eventually join the church." This impression was fully justified afterward, for, altogether, nearly one hundred from there and that vicinity embraced the faith, the most of them after moving to the western border counties of Iowa and to California.
When at LaGrange, the night of the 21st, we found the papers teeming with threatening war news, though it was the general hope that an open rebellion would be averted and the peace and unity of our nation be maintained. But the Saints in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois had been warned from 1856, or before, through the Spirit, in prophecy and vision, that a great rebellion was very near at hand, and I felt conscious that now it would soon occur. This view was here confirmed by a remarkable night vision in which was presented to me a time of extreme gloominess and evil forebodings: I saw and heard uniformed men playing martial music to a great body of waters like the sea, and I saw a man in citizen's dress, whom I
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perceived was President Abraham Lincoln, step forth upon the waters, bearing a long, large staff in his right hand, balancing it equally and with great care, seemingly aware that therein lay his security and success; and as he went forth to the south and west the winds and the waves beat about him with increasing fury, he walking triumphantly till he reached a point near the southern shore when I discovered he had dropped the staff and was rapidly sinking, and immediately I saw him drawn into a terrible whirlpool and go down into its depths with his hands lifted imploringly and calling for help -- but in vain. The war that began the twelfth day of April following, verified, sadly, what was thus portrayed in outline by "the inspiration of the Almighty."
The evening of the 23d found me at Brother William Hall's at String Prairie, near Montrose. Here I remained and assisted Elder John Snippy in preaching the word and administering the ordinances; a few were baptized and we organized the String Prairie Branch. After this we labored some in Montrose and Nashville, and then I proceeded home, to Amboy, reaching there the 30th, after an absence of nearly five months.
The annual conference, April 6 to 8, 1861, convened in Amboy; attendance fair; much important business was transacted; a goodly number were added to the church, and much of the Holy Spirit was given the Saints during the session. Of this Brother Isaac Sheen, clerk, had this to say in the published minutes: "The prayer-meetings afforded
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the Saints an opportunity to 'sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,' and by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit they received much instruction, edification, and joy unspeakable. By the enjoyment of the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Ghost we know that these blessings are for 'all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call,' as Peter declared on the day of Pentecost. We thereby know that we are building on the same foundation."
On the ninth day of April, started out on a mission to Dekalb, Kendall, and Lasalle Counties, Illinois, preaching the word as we could find or make opportunities. The afternoon of the 15th, by request, I reached the bedside of Charles Lewis, in Mission, Lasalle County, who was dying with quick consumption; prayed with him and administered to him, hoping the Lord would raise him up to health, but in this was disappointed, for a few nights before, in a night vision, I was called to rescue a drowning man, and in an instant I was standing on the brink of a broad, dark, deep-flowing river, in which, and near me, I saw a flaxen-haired man floating by, helpless, just underneath the surface, when hastily I reached and touched his head, and, immediately I looked across the river and saw the same person, clothed in a white robe, walking up its beautiful green bank toward a gentle eminence on which was a company of people dressed in white robes, singing, and playing upon instruments of music, welcoming his coming. The scene was most enchanting. Not long after this I preached his funeral
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sermon, and from his friends learned he had been baptized when near ten years of age into the church. He, in "the cloudy and dark day" had grown neglectful of his covenant duties, but in his hour of need his heart turned to the Lord and he honored his ordinances, for he sent for the elders of the church as commanded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:12 and James 5: 14, and he received the promise of the Lord, "and if they die, they shall die unto me."
My misunderstanding of this instructive manifestation, as with some others, caused me to appreciate keenly the wise instruction of Joseph the Seer where he says, "When you see a vision, pray for the interpretation; if you get not this, shut it up; there must be certainty in this matter." -- Millennial Star, volume 17, page 312.
On the 20th, Brethren George Rarick, Asa Manchester, and "myself went from Newark to Norway, Lasalle County, held meetings for two days and nights, and baptized four. Here a Methodist minister, Ole Oleson, and a Baptist minister (once a talented Latter Day Saint elder), Ole Hayer, attacked me and my work with all the craft and cunning and force they could master, and continued it from nine p. m., till two o'clock the next morning, at the house of Brother Hans Hayer. But the Lord gave victory to his cause and his servants and turned the attack to the furtherance of his work and the confirmation of his Saints. From about this time the opposing apostate elder began a downward course that terminated in disgrace and ruin.
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The rebellion predicted by Joseph the Seer in 1832, and of which the Saints of the Reorganized Church had been warned by vision and prophecy, had now begun its terrible work; for on the twelfth of this month (April) the rebels attacked Fort Sumter. The nation was filled with excitement, north and south, and mischief was afoot in all the land. Nor were all the Saints free from these conditions, though most of them, being forewarned, were fairly prepared to await the final issue, confident that the Union would be maintained.
Continued in ministerial work in Lasalle, Dekalb, Kendall and Lee Counties, with fair success till May 14, when I started for Iowa and Nebraska, going via Burlington, Montrose, and String Prairie. At the latter place, on the 18th, I baptized and ordained to the eldership two aged, noble men, Duty Griffith and Thomas Dungan. Remained over Sunday, preached twice, and on the 20th proceeded by train and stage to Chariton, and the 21st walked, carrying satchel, to Franklin, between Garden Grove and Leon, in Decatur County.
The 24th found me at Brother George Morey's near Pleasanton, where I learned that many citizens were being mobbed and robbed and driven out of Missouri, and that these things were occurring where the Saints in 1833 to 1839 had suffered similar treatment. "I will repay saith the Lord."
Continued preaching here and at Franklin until the 30th, baptized a goodly number, among them a worthy man -- a Disciple minister -- named Jesse Copeland.
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June 1, the company with whom I was traveling passed through Icaria, a small colony of Communists being chief citizens of the place. These were a part of that colony that settled in Nauvoo in 1850, after the expulsion of the Saints. Reached Council Bluffs the 3d, and at once entered upon mission work there and at Crescent City and the regions adjacent, Brethren E. C. Briggs, C. Derry, and others assisting with hearty good will. On the 7th, 8th, and 9th we held a very interesting and profitable conference in the suburbs of Council Bluffs. Here we found it proper to define the position the Saints should take and maintain in respect to national affairs, and we were gratified to find that all our membership, with but slight exceptions, were thoroughly loyal to the Government and had abiding confidence that God would bring the nation through its perils to the high destiny to which it was divinely ordained before it was founded. The elders in talking and preaching on these matters quoted freely from the writings of Joseph the Seer, including the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. The session was a great success, the Saints were united and hopeful, and the citizens, generally, were well satisfied as to their loyalty. Two-day meetings were appointed at many available points, and the elders went to their work diligently and with fervent zeal. During the summer and fall a large number were added to the church, and the Lord gave the Saints much favor with their neighbors and the people generally.
This year the Brighamites gathered -- chiefly
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from Europe -- between four thousand and five thousand persons to Utah, making use of our nation's troubles to alarm and mislead them. In these times the cunning craftiness and the boastful pretensions and promises of Brighamism were shown forth with but little disguise, for their priests and people, many of them, were openly and offensively exultant over present and impending evils in our nation.
Thursday, August 8, at the house of Brother Joseph Wild, above Crescent City, we received testimony by the Spirit at evening prayers, that the Lord would preserve the life of Brother Joseph and inspire his mind with wisdom to lead the Saints so they would escape the judgments coming on the earth. This was most encouraging in view of the fact that everything in our land was in commotion, and men's hearts failing them with fear.
August 30, .we held conference in Little Sioux, Elders George Morey, E. C. Briggs, Charles Derry, George Medlock, Jehiel Savage, Rowland Cobbs, Samuel Scott, and others being in attendance and aiding in the services. It was an important and profitable session.
September 6 to 11 found me laboring in word and ordinance near Pleasanton, Iowa, on my way to my home at Amboy, Illinois. Here I baptized a number, confirming them at the water's edge, assisted by Brother George Morey. It was a spiritual season, and good results followed. A Mr. Joseph Gold, a German Catholic, with his wife, attended our preaching, baptismal and confirmation services, and
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as we were bidding the Saints and friends good bye, preparatory to starting at once with Brother George Morey, by his carriage, for Montrose, when I shook hands with Mr. Gold the Spirit constrained me to bless him, saying, "God bless you, Mr. Gold; and he will bless you." Upon this the Holy Spirit fell upon him, and he wept for joy under its power and light. Not long after this both he and his wife united with the church, and were ever consistent and faithful members.
The fall conference, at Amboy, Illinois, was largely attended, and proved very spiritual and important. Brother Joseph Smith was fully equal to the occasion and acquitted himself as its president with much acceptance to all.
On request of the Saints and friends in Iowa, and by appointment of conference, I returned to Western Iowa, taking my wife and our three children with me, going by carriage furnished by the western Saints and friends; and after journeying eighteen days we reached Galland's Grove, November 3.
Soon after we had crossed the Mississippi River I lost my Book of Mormon, which I had been reading at intervals as opportunity offered, and I felt keenly my loss, because I had prepared in it a copious index of subjects and made many marginal notes and references also. All the way across the state of Iowa, a distance of nearly three hundred miles, I had mourned my book as lost for ever. But on Sunday, at our meeting in Galland's Grove, Father Holcomb came to me and said, "Is this your book, Brother Blair?" "Yes," said I, "that is my
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Book of Mormon. Where did you get it?" "My son, Zach, found it in the road between here and Harlan," he replied. Here was a mystery, indeed; for we had searched every nook and corner in and about our carriage, time and time again; but all in vain. At the close of the meeting Father William Jordan came forward and urgently requested me to visit his neighborhood and preach, for a family from Illinois had just settled there, and the man, an infidel, had found a Book of Mormon soon after crossing the Mississippi at Davenport, had read it by the way coming across the State, and said he found it the best religious book he ever read, one he could give his family without fear of their being hurt by its contents, but that he had lost it after leaving Harlan, and he now desired to learn more about it and the people who believed in and taught it.
Now the mystery was solved. My Book of Mormon, by* the providence of heaven, had been doing mission work when and where I least suspected; and good work it did, for this gentleman and his family were no little profited by it, the Saints finding in him and his family good friends and neighbors, some of them uniting with the church, I believe.
Brother John A. Mclntosh went with me, November 7, to Boyer Valley, near where is now Dow City, and we held meetings and baptized some. The evening of the 9th we held services in Mason's Grove, distant nearly twenty miles. We continued our labors there until the 11th, preaching at times,
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both in the daytime and evenings of week days as well as of Sundays. Indeed, this was somewhat common with all the traveling ministry in Iowa and Illinois in those times. And when not preaching or holding business-meetings in the daytime, they were visiting and teaching from house to house as they could find opportunity, so great was the demand and the need of ministerial labor. At Mason's Grove we planted the work and added some to the church. We preached also in Denison court-house, had full and interested congregations, and by urgent request administered to a Mrs. Coburn, with anointing and prayers, for chronic and painful female disease, from which she soon recovered, but, like the ungrateful nine of Luke 17: 11-18, she failed "to give glory to God."
The 18th found myself and family located on the Ellisdale farm midway between Crescent and Council Bluffs, and I at once arranged to systemize and extend the labors of all the ministry in the mission, as far east as Adel and Des Moines, south as far as the Missouri State line, also over in Eastern Nebraska, in all of which we were cordially sustained by the ministry. In various parts of this field were many Brighamites and their sympathizers whom our national troubles made bold and aggressive, and who loudly proclaimed that only in Utah would there be found safety and deliverance for the Saints, for there were "the secret chambers of the Lord," where he would "hide" them while his wrath swept through the nations. Many were troubled and deceived by these alarming statements
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and not a few fled to Utah the ensuing spring through fear. The winter was spent in preaching throughout Western Iowa, and the Lord added a goodly number to the church through the joint labors of the ministry, prominent among whom were Elders Charles Derry, J. A. Mclntosh, and Silas W. Condit. The Spirit of the Lord abounded among the Saints, unity and love prevailed, and though times were hard and trials many, the church as a whole were a happy, prosperous people. The gifts of the Spirit were richly enjoyed and the power of God at times was very notably manifest.
During this winter Thomas E. Jenkins, Daniel Williams, William Williams, and some others, recently returned from Utah in sorrow and disgust, who had united with the Reorganized Church, proved active and efficient helpers in gospel work, and were very happy therein.
February 9, at Galland's Grove, I intended to preach at ten a. m., on the necessity for and the operations of unchangeable law. But when the moment came for beginning service my mind was an utter blank on that subject, and in almost despair I turned to the Bible and without aforethought read the sixteenth chapter of Revelation. This done, I was led to preach on verses thirteen and fourteen, the grace and power of the Spirit being given me in power from the first. The packed and deeply interested congregation listened patiently for near two hours, and at the close I was assured by Brethren J. A. Mclntosh, Alexander McCord, and others, that the sermon was just what was needed, for a
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spiritualist lecturer, in disguise, was then giving lessons, at five dollars a scholar, on "mental alchemy," etc. In this sermon we held that Satan was "the prince of the power of the air," and that that power was and is electro-magnetism, and that Satan and his fellows could and did use that force for evil purposes, even as skillful, bad men use many things, in themselves good, for bad purposes. "Mental alchemy" and its like were soon at a great discount in and about Galland's Grove.
About the first of March I saw myself and others, among them Brother E. C. Briggs, engaged in threshing and putting wheat into granaries, and also putting some that was scattered in piles on the threshing-floor. Presently a fire swept by, and wherever there was chaff or straw among the wheat, the fire went, and that wheat suffered from the fire, more or less. From this I learned the importance of having iniquity and evil persons purged from among the Saints; and experience has fully approved this.
[ 60 ]
Our conference for the mission convened April 6 and 7, 1862, in Galland's Grove, and owing to extremely bad weather, it was quite small and uninteresting. Returning home, April 16, we found our house had been robbed during our absence, and concluded if any were in such straits as to rob an unsalaried missionary and his family, they possibly
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needed what they obtained, even though they got it by crime, and so we "let the dead bury their dead" and went about our Master's business.
The thirtieth day of April I located my family in Little Sioux on property Brother S. W. Condit proposed to give me for the work's sake, but which we declined for the reason that we had farm properties both at East Paw Paw and Amboy, and for other reasons. The Saints and friends were very kind, and were generous in proportion to their means. This was generally the case all through the mission; but many were poor, and the country was new and afforded a common livelihood only by hard work and close economy. But love and unity prevailed.
Little Sioux had been one of the roughest, wickedest towns on the Missouri River, for its size; but after the branch was organized there it became noted for its temperance, orderliness, and thrift. In the month of May I preached the word with good results in Little Sioux, Galland's Grove, Preparation, and Belvidere, assisted by Elders S. W. Condit and J. A. Mclntosh, and the Lord added to the church a few in all these places.
June 7 to 9 a conference was held near Council Bluffs, in the North Star Branch. There were about one thousand persons in attendance on Sunday, and from first to last unity and love ruled, and the Lord blessed the services by his Spirit. The conference arranged for two-day meetings at many points, good results having followed similar meetings the previous year.
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An excellent two-day meeting was held at Raglan, northwest of Magnolia, June 28 and 29, Elders Ebenezer Page, Jehiel Savage, J. A. Mclntosh, and Silas W. Condit assisting in the services. At this meeting Elders Condit and Mclntosh bore testimony in the Spirit, with much assurance, to the prophetic mission of Joseph the Seer, also that his son Joseph was, his successor.
On the Fourth of July, on invitation, I took part in the celebration exercises at Calhoun and used the opportunity in setting forth the need and the duty of loyalty to our nation by all its citizens. These were critical times, for the land was full of contention. The population of the "Missouri slope," on either side of the river, was made up largely of people from the Southern and Middle States, many of whom sympathized with those in rebellion to our national government, and not a few of our church members were tinctured with similar sentiments, thereby making our duties both onerous and trying, however clearly we saw them. But by patient, forbearing, persuasive efforts, and by thorough and timely appeals to the teachings of the standard books of the church, and especially to the revelations and miscellaneous teachings of Joseph the Seer having a bearing upon the need of loyalty to civil governments and the evils of rebellion, in all of which we were ably assisted by some of the ministry, prominent among whom were Elders Charles Derry and E. C. Briggs, unity and ardent fellowship were maintained among the Saints, and the fiery ordeal of our national tribulations
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was passed without any rupture in the church, and with but little or no bitterness, proving that to be a good Saint one must be a good citizen.
The leading features of the preaching in these times, as ever before, were the righteousness of Christ as set forth in his personal ministry and in that of the apostles, as recorded in sacred writ, and that a dutiful, spiritual life was of first importance.
The two-day meetings were seasons of edification and refreshing, as were others also. In one that we held in the Boyer Branch, August 16, 17, and 18, a large number were baptized, and of the prayer-meeting on Sunday I wrote the following in my diary: "Had a glorious prayer-meeting; the presence of the Lord by the power of his Spirit was sensibly felt by many. The gifts of prophecy, tongues and interpretation, were manifest in a good degree, edifying and cheering the Saints."
In the latter part of August, a Brother William Lewis, lately returned from Utah, had baptized some in North Pigeon Branch and failed to use the form of words prescribed in the church standards, thereby causing doubts and controversy. This coming to my attention, I counseled that the form of words provided should be strictly observed both in baptism and partaking the sacrament. This gave satisfaction to all but the erring elder, he persisting in his error and refusing my advice.
How natural (and harmful) for self-willed mortals to stiffly maintain erroneous ideas and reject the counsels plainly written and given of God! This
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brother's misstep led him to another wherein he stated that I preached that electro-magnetism was of the Devil, when in fact I had said that Satan was "the prince of the power of the air," using electro-magnetism (a force of nature) for bad purposes, as do wicked men also.
September 1 found Brother Charles Derry and me at Wheeler's Grove, he to have a discussion with a Reverend Roberts, a Campbellite; but the latter, doubtless esteeming prudence the better part of valor, failed to appear. Faithful efforts resulted in planting the work at this point in a good way.
On the 5th, 6th, and 7th we held a series of meetings in Crescent City, assisted by Brother C. G. Mclntosh. The prayer and testimony-meetings were largely attended and very spiritual, the Lord confirming the word with signs following. Five were added to the church by baptism.
The Indian massacre in Minnesota, one of the most heartrending known to history, occurred in August previous, and now (September 8) rumors came that the Indians had broken out along the Missouri Valley, in Minnesota, directly north of us, and the excitement and confusion arising from this was most intense. We counseled prudence and quietness, with watching and prayer, and my diary notes say: "I instructed the Saints, in view of Indian difficulties, that it was right and proper to defend themselves and their neighbors and promptly aid in maintaining law and order."
It was rumored, and some believed it, that the Confederates had incited the Minnesota massacre
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and were also instigating the northern and western tribes of Indians to ravage the unprotected borders of the West so as to draw away the Union armies from the South. Happily this proved untrue, but not until the whole western country had been thrown into a state of intense fear and excitement. On the 9th I reached home, Little Sioux, and found the people, with the exception of the Saints, greatly troubled and full of evil forebodings. But the latter, under the wise counsels of Elders Condit, Garnet, and others, had been called together to have prayer and consult as to the best methods to pursue. In answer to fervent prayer, the Spirit testified, in power, that the rumors of an Indian outbreak up north were not true, and instructed the Saints to be faithful and fear not, promising therein safety and guidance. I advised the Saints to assist by all proper means in maintaining law and order and to protect themselves and neighbors if occasion should require.
At this juncture the State authorities issued a call for volunteers to protect the frontiers, and I advised our young men and middle- aged to enroll in the mounted "home guards" for military duty under the requisition of the governor. To this there was a fair response, though some were so strongly opposed to bearing arms that it required patient effort to overcome their scruples.
On the 12th we held a fast-meeting, and during the exercises the Holy Spirit, through prophecy, tongues and interpretation, said that God had given and would give the president of the mission wisdom
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to counsel aright with regard to the course best to pursue in relation to the enlistment of our young men, and that as many as would go forth and be faithful he would preserve and bless. The work of enlistment went on rapidly at Little Sioux, Bigler's Grove, Galland's Grove, and about Denison, so that in a short time the quota was filled and some of our members were installed in responsible offices. Showing my faith by my works, I cheerfully gave my saddle-horse for service to Brother Parker Condit and took my chances to get around my mission field as best I could until the "guards" returned in the spring of 1863, they, in the meantime, during their service, having neither seen an Indian nor even a moccasin track! The health of the volunteers was good, and they received ample pay for their service.
On the twenty-seventh day of September, 1862, President Joseph Smith. Bishop I. L. Rogers, Elders James Blakeslee, J. Harvey Blakeslee, George Rarick, and C. G. Lanphear came to Little Sioux from Illinois, via Council Bluffs, en route to the fall conference at Galland's Grove, leaving Elder John Shippy at the North Star Branch. These continued their visit, preaching the word, till October 4 (this being their first call at Little Sioux), and on that day we all started for conference and that night held services at Bigler's Grove.
Passing on to Galland's Grove the 5th, conference was organized the 6th, choosing Joseph Smith president and J. W. Gillen and Charles Derry clerks. The attendance was large, the ministerial
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reports very encouraging, showing large accessions to the church and that the Lord aided and sustained the ministry most satisfactorily, and that "the gifts and graces of the Spirit attended their ministrations in a great measure, proving the work to be of God." Conference decided it proper that "the precise form of words given in the law" should be used in baptism, and that other words should not be used "in place of the words of God."
Elder J. W. Briggs said to this conference: "It has been my fortune to be a witness of the renewal of this latter-day work, and I am prepared to testify that it is, and will be, the church and kingdom of God; and I am willing to preach the gospel in any place where I may be called. This work is all beneath the heavens that can engross my attention. My all is identified with and wrapped up in it. I am the church's servant, and if it says to me, 'Go here,' or 'Go there,' I am ready." (See Herald, volume 3, page 118.)
As a specimen of the spirit and wisdom of teachings of the church in these times, I present the following :
"The President [Joseph Smith] then occupied the stand, and said: There are some suggestions I wish to bring before the people; one is, to practice the golden rule. As a body we are poor, yet there are none really indigent, I trust, nor any very rich. It behooves every one to see that there are none suffering for the comforts of life in the branches where they reside, neither should we confine ourselves to the church, but extend aid to all
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that need, as far as we can. We are, also, to avoid every appearance of evil, and dancing has that appearance and should be avoided. It may be a recreation if rightly used; but it is not according to the spirit of the work, and should be avoided. We must learn to deny ourselves of useless pleasures. Remember, he that conquereth himself is as he that taketh a city. True charity is to avoid everything that would be a snare, or cause our brother to offend. Avoid, above all, whisky drinking. Shakespeare said it was folly for a man to take into his system that which would steal away his brains. Avoid the use of foolish, useless bywords. When a man takes an oath in conversation he only shows his want of confidence in his own veracity. The man that will give way to oaths will give way to anger, and who can estimate the amount of evil done by angry words? Endeavor to govern your temper, or you never can rule successfully at home or abroad. The man that is the subject of his passions is the weakest of men.
"Another evil is the circulation of scandal about our neighbors. Every time a supposition is told, it is added upon until it assumes such a form that the man who first started it does not know it. We may enjoy it for the time, but as the frog in the fable said, 'What is fun to you is death to me'; so what may be mere pastime to us is death, yea, worse than death to our neighbors. It may take them years of arduous, honest toil, to outlive our scandal; yea, a lifetime may not suffice to wipe out the stain. Then let us keep our tongue as with a bridle.
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"Again, Jesus taught us the principle of forgiveness. Can we ask our Father to forgive us when we will not forgive our brother that has trespassed against us? It may be if we had been in the position of our neighbor, we should have done as he did. Then let us exercise that true charity which is the pure spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and be assured that the measure we mete unto others shall be meted unto us again.
"Now, in regard to the establishment of a press. Where are the means to come from? The law of tithing has been adverted to. That law has been abused more than any other law in the church. There is no exaction in the church of God. It must all be a free-will offering, as much so as when you presented yourselves at the waters of baptism. It was of your own free will and choice; God accepts no other offering. There is no power in the church to exact a dime from any man. The idea that there was this power has led the shepherds to fleece the flock. But just so far as you will voluntarily loose the hands of those that are tied, and do all you can for the rolling forth of the work of God, so will be your reward. There is no inconsistency in the gospel; every principle harmonizes with every other principle in the same. Then let us try to understand our stewardship. God has promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out more blessings upon us than we are able to contain. His promises are the security given for our service and our offerings unto him; then, as Dean Swift once remarked, 'With the liberal man. God will deal
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liberally. Now, if you like the security, down with the dust.' Bring forth your offerings that the word of the Lord may go forth to the ends of the earth, and Israel be gathered home." -- Saints' Herald, volume 3, pages 118, 119.
To this we add the following: Elder Baldwin said: "I came here for good and not evil, and am grateful for the present opportunity. If I am possessed of errors, small or great, I will give two errors for one truth. I have been a witness of the work of the last days thirty- two years, on the eighth of January next. I attended the first June conference, and was ordained by the special direction of Joseph to the high priesthood. I attended the second General Conference, held at Orange, and at the third conference held at Amherst. It did me good to hear Elder Briggs relate the facts of Joseph being ordained to the presidency of the high priesthood" as plainly as I could state them. I saw the doings of the church, and the mob in Jackson and Caldwell Counties, Missouri, and in Nauvoo, until the Prophet was taken away. With the books in my hand, I could not follow the Twelve. I could not get testimony to follow them to Salt Lake. What could I do? I could not practice their doctrines. I felt that we needed all the light we could obtain to guide us in this darkness. I tried to take the things in this book (Book of Covenants) for my guide, and studied the revelations that I might not miss the grand pole-star. It has done me good to hear our present beloved Joseph state the course we should have taken. He calls upon
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all scattered Israel to return to the words of the Lord; and I feel that this doctrine will lead us on to eternal life.
"I found an organization under Alpheus Cutler, on Silver Creek. I then removed to Manti where the present organization was established. He (Cutler) was ordained president of the high priesthood. I baptized some forty members, on the Botany, into the same. Some of them went to Salt Lake; but, thank God, there is a good sprinkling of them in this reorganization. Well, we took the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants for our guide; those, together with the Constitution, are the foundation upon which we built. With respect to our President here (meaning Joseph), I have heard Father Cutler say that when he (Joseph) took his place, he would sweep the world. Our people have always held that Joseph's family had rights, and that they would possess those rights sometime. I have been highly gratified with the spirit and teachings of the brethren and conference. If we (the Cutlerites), as a people, have missed the pole-star, I think we are honest enough to return and live; and I can say sincerely. Lord, send by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. When first Joseph came, he had to make many amendments until he had set the whole in proper order."
Elder W. W. Blair said: "I and Elder E. C. Briggs visited that people on Farm Creek. Calvin Beebe was president of the branch. Brother Beebe went and inquired of the Lord, and obtained a
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testimony, and on the next day he told the people he knew we were servants of God. Brother James Badham spoke in tongues, and the interpretations were that this work was true; and that the Cutlerite branch would unite with us in time, and that a great work would be accomplished in this region. We went to Manti and tried to learn the nature of their organization, but failed. We inquired of the Lord and obtained that knowledge, and also a testimony that in time they would unite with us." -- Saints' Herald, volume 3, pages 133, 134.
Of this conference the clerk had this to say:
"I must here say that we had a glorious time. A great many people were present, eager to catch the words of life. The words of Jesus Christ were fully exemplified: 'My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me.' Hearts that had for the last seventeen years beat with anxious desires, and offered up many fervent prayers that the rightful 'heir' to the holy priesthood might stand in his place as the shepherd of the flock of God, were now amply repaid. They forgot their toils and their wanderings, and raised their songs of praise and adoration to the Most High. Many tongues were inspired with the pentecostal power to utter precious promises from the God of Israel concerning the work of the last days, and also concerning our brethren and sisters in Utah; that their bands should soon be broken, and that they should return to the true fold and the true shepherd. Parents that had children there, and children that had parents, etc., were comforted with the blessed assurance
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that their prayers should be answered and that their tears had not flown for them in vain.
"It was a rich treat to see those whose heads blossomed with age, and who had stood shoulder to the wheel in the days of Joseph the First, ready again with their influence and their all to roll on this work, which was fitly compared by J. W. Briggs as 'a wheel within a wheel,' to bring about the final restitution of all things. Near thirty persons were received into the church during conference, and many returned to their homes with a determination to lead their families and friends into 'the good old paths,' that they might find rest to their souls.
"President Smith and Elder Blakeslee preached on Sunday before the conference opened; but I was sick, and could not get any report of the same. Prayer-meetings were held every evening during the conference, and great were the blessings enjoyed. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were enjoyed to such a degree that many old Saints said that they had never seen such great manifestations before." -- Saints' Herald, volume 3, page 134.
At this conference steps were taken to procure the first press owned by the church. The ministry went to their various fields resolute, cheered, and strengthened, firmly united in the love of Christ.
Agreeable to conference appointment (October 6-9, 1862), I called the attention of the western Saints to the need of funds to purchase a printing-press, and office fixtures, and a hearty, prompt response was made.
Calls for ministerial services were so numerous
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and pressing that it was no unusual thing for the missionaries, many of them, to hold meetings five or ten times each week during the fall, winter, and early spring months, besides visiting investigators wherever opportunity could be found.
Prior to the last conference a short time, a Mrs. Dow, a Baptist lady, living on the Boyer River, related to Brother and Sister Uriah Roundy, and probably others, that she dreamed of seeing Brother Joseph Smith in a meeting, hearing him read a portion of Isaiah, and seeing him assist in administering the sacrament, and she felt confident she would know him when she met him. She attended the conference on a Sunday, and claimed she there saw and heard just as shown her in the dream.
Brother Charles Derry having been appointed a mission to England, a successful effort was made to get his family satisfactorily located in the Glenwood Branch and procure some means to aid him on his way. Passing through Raglan, Boomer, Crescent, North Star, Council Bluffs, Glenwood, and Nephi Branches, I joined him at Manti, December 12, assisted him in holding meetings until the 16th, and on that morning, at Brother S. S. Wilcox's, after a season of fervent prayer, we gave him the parting hand, assured by the Spirit's presence that all was well and would result well for Brother Derry and the work intrusted to him.
From Manti I went to a branch' then recently organized by Brother Derry on Plum Creek, seven miles north of Sidney, and tarried with Brother John Leeka. This brother and his family united
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with the church in Eastern Iowa and moved into Nauvoo prior to the death of Joseph the Seer, became fairly well acquainted with the Seer and his wife, and continued to reside there till the exodus in 1846, when he and his family went west with the Saints under the leadership of Brigham Young and the Twelve to the Missouri River, though advised by Sister Emma Smith not to do so; remained there a short season, and seeing and hearing so much of evil in both doctrine and practice, and the chief men of the church being foremost in these matters, his confidence was shaken, his faith wavered, and he quietly folded his tent, gathered his family, and departed, sad, sorrowful, and with but little or no hope. Turning his attention to business, and having fair success, he by and by became the owner of fine mill and farm properties where he now resides; but he abjured and rejected all forms of religion, though treating all people with respect and kindness.
He continued this way till in 1861 and 1862, when, on hearing that a young Sister Hendrickson had a copy of the Saints' Herald containing the revelation on the Rebellion, given through Joseph the Seer in December, 1832, he sent and borrowed it with others. He had heard Joseph the Seer, in Nauvoo, say the Lord had revealed to him that there would be a rebellion of the Southern States. After reading the revelation he also read other matter in the Heralds sent him, some of which set forth the latter-day apostasy and the remedy for it, while others set forth the true doctrine of the church
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and the history of the rise and progress of the Reorganization. Presently he took steps to investigate still further, and on reading in the Book of Mormon that the Spirit of God leads to prayer, and to do good, he felt much encouraged, for he knew he now desired to pray to God and to do good to all. But he had feared that his former unbelief and rejection of all forms of religion would for ever debar him from the blessings of God and the privileges of the church. These texts fitted his case and inspired him with hope, and not long afterwards Brother Charles Derry, by request, preached a series of sermons there and finally organized a branch, Brother Leeka and his wife being among the first to receive the work.
The Lord greatly blessed the branch, and Brother Leeka was among the first to receive the gifts of the Spirit, and at this writing he is watching and waiting for the Master's summons to join his departed companion and hosts of loved ones gone before. Since those times a large number have been obedient to the faith in that branch, men and women of excellent repute, influential for good, a large proportion of them born and reared there or in that vicinity. "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart," for he has said, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
From December 20 to January 19 my time was devoted to preaching and counseling in the Nephi, Glenwood, and Crescent City Branches, all of them dwelling in unity and enjoying both the gifts and
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fruits of the Spirit. During this time (January 17, 1863,) I organized a branch in Magnolia, of nine members.
Owing to extreme views held by a few over zealous members in respect to the gift of healing by the prayer of faith, we found it needful to teach the Saints that God requires his people to neglect no means he has ordained by which to alleviate and restore the afflicted, and that, therefore, they should be diligent in using wisely and skillfully the means the Lord has furnished in nature, for the God of nature is the God of revelation; and I appealed to both revelation and history, as well as to personal observation, in support of this position, meeting with some opposition on the part of a few.
About this time a very decided effort was made by some to promulgate and practically introduce "all things common" in respect to property matters, they citing the practice of the primitive saints (Acts 2: 44; 4: 32; also Book of Mormon) as proof that it was good and ordained of God. Others with myself taught that there was no commandment authorizing such an order of things; that the tendency of it was in the direction of idleness, carelessness, and general disorder, and that it was in conflict with the fact of man's personal agency, personal responsibility and accountability, also that Jesus plainly taught the principle of separate stewardships in the kingdom of heaven, making each, person, severally, accountable for the number of "talents" committed to him as set forth in Matthew25: 14-30; and further, that Joseph the Seer, whom
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God called and qualified to organize and set in order his church in these last days, rejected the "all things common" theory, in Kirtland, and proclaimed the principle of separate stewardships, including personal accountability to God and the church. After due investigation and reflection, general unity prevailed in this matter, and thus a theory tending to division and discord gave place to order and the love of the Lord.
Spiritualism, under the guise and name of "mental alchemy," was introduced in Western Iowa by crafty men and women, lecturers and mediums, and attracted much attention, a few of the Saints getting bewildered and deceived by it for a season. A Brother John Johnson had a daughter (not a member of the church) who became a highly developed medium, claimed to practice medicine by direction of the spirits of the dead, and under the nervous and mental strain incident to that system she became completely prostrated, and her father and mother visited her when in that condition. Upon one occasion, when her mother was at her bedside, the daughter went into a so-called clairvoyant state, and, addressing her mother by what purported to be the spirit of her mother's sister left in England, she imitated her speech and manners quite perfectly, talking of things known to the mother but not to the daughter, and thereby led the mother to believe that the said sister was indeed dead, but present in spirit form; Brother Johnson, as if enlightened specially by the Spirit of God for the occasion, said to his weeping companion,
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"This is a cunning device of Satan. I don't believe your sister is dead. I will write at once and learn." But the transformation in respect to voice, and manner, and style of speech, coupled with statements about which the mother knew but the daughter did not know, quite deluded the mother for the time being. But Brother Johnson, true to his promise, wrote at once for information about the sister whose spirit, it was claimed, possessed and communicated through the daughter, and in due time received a letter written by the hand of the very sister said to be dead!
This occurrence, of a piece with many others which blinded and misled some in those times, was wrought as we then believed and taught, by lying, familiar spirits, such as are described in holy writ, and such as the word of God declares will abound in the last days and deceive and ruin many.
We devoted needed time, as wisdom directed, during these trying times, in explaining spiritual things, of different kinds, as set forth in scripture and authentic history and as was being currently observed; for "they also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." -- Isaiah 29: 24.
The Wednesday evening prayer-meeting of February 18, 1863, at Little Sioux, was a season of notable interest, the Spirit of the Lord being present to comfort and instruct, also "revealing hidden things which no man knew." We were told with much assurance that "elders shall be sent to Europe from the spring conference." And Elders J. W.
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Briggs and Jeremiah Jeremiah were sent, as the conference minutes for that date show.
The first days of March I labored in the Plum Hollow Branch and at Fisher's Grove, and on the 11th we organized a branch at the latter place, Wheeler Baldwin presiding, S. S. Wilcox priest and clerk, and George Reals teacher.
The latter told me, at that time, that he heard Joseph the Seer say, at Brother Anson Matthews', near Table Grove, McDonough County, Illinois, in June, 1839, that "he sometimes thought he would be killed by his enemies, and that if he should be, his son Joseph would carry on the work of the church in his place."
On the twelfth day of March, Brethren S. S. Wilcox and George Redfield assisted me in administering to a woman, Mrs. Harriet Weach, not yet a member of the church who had been sorely afflicted by a complication of diseases (prominent among which was chronic dyspepsia), and it pleased God to heal her straightway, so that with others she was baptized four days later, and soon regained her flesh and strength in full.
On the 13th Brother William Redfield and I called on old Father Alpheus Cutler. During this call he reiterated what he said to me and others on a former occasion, that he never claimed to be the successor of Joseph the Seer. He also said that a certain quorum of seven, arranged and set apart by Joseph the Seer in Nauvoo, of which he and Brother William Marks were members, had no control
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over spiritual affairs, but related to temporal concerns, chiefly of a local nature.
On investigation then and since, I learned that Father Cutler (and some of his adherents) claimed that "young Joseph" ought to have come to him, consulted him, and have been ordained by him. Claims of a similar sort have been rather common with all or nearly all the factions. A noted character among the Brighamites said to me in 1869 that "little Joseph should have come to Brother Brigham and had him put his hands upon him and give him the keys."
On Sunday the 15th I attended the Cutlerite meeting at eleven and at two in our own meeting, proceeded to examine and refute claims and statements in respect to church affairs made in the Cutlerite meeting, and was greatly blessed of God by the power and light of the Spirit, many believing, and the next day I baptized seven, by whom, and nine I baptized two days before and others who had united previously, a strong and effective branch was established.
On the 17th, Brother Willie Redfield accompanying me, I took stage for Leon, Iowa, reached Decatur City at four o'clock, the 18th, from whence we walked to Brother George Morey's, fifteen miles, reaching there the morning of the 19th, and found that Brother Morey, who had waited for me till he concluded I would not call on him going east, had gone east the day before. This was well, as subsequent events proved; for sometimes, it is evident,
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"there's a destiny that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will."
Politics and sectionalism had now reached a condition of great bitterness. The border counties of Iowa had many "rebel sympathizers" within them, and it is proper to say, not a few of these were formerly mobbers of the Mormons in Missouri, or the children of. The mobbers, and these facts were known and talked of by the Saints, their children and friends. On the 20th I preached on the need of cultivating a spirit of toleration toward political opponents, to honor and pray for those in authority, and to do good to and pray for such as were enemies of the Saints, and in this the Saints generally, if not universally, acquiesced heartily.
I was the guest of Ebenezer Robinson the night of the 20th, also the day of the 21st. He told me he very recently had a vision concerning me and my coming, knew I would. Soon be there with the Saints; and told Sister George Morey and others so. This had previously been told me by Sister Morey, on my arrival the 19th instant. I now copy from my diary:
"Saturday, March 21, 1863. -- To-day am at Brother E. Robinson's. Stayed with them last night. Brother Robinson tells me that he is with us heart and hand. I explained to himself and wife the first and second paragraphs of section fourteen (43) in Doctrine and Covenants. In the afternoon, while at prayer previous to administering to Sister Robinson, and while administering, Brother Robinson received testimony that Joseph is his father's is his father's
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successor and said he was perfectly satisfied." To this he added that the testimony he received was the same (or similar) to that he received concerning the truth of the Book of Mormon.
Held services the 22d and 23d, a number united with the church, and the 24th went with Brother David Morey to Corydon, and on the 25th Brother Redfield and I walked twenty-five miles to Centerville. On the 26th we took stage for Eddyville, via Moravia and Albia, arriving the 27th, whence we went by railroad to Belfast, String Prairie, and Montrose, preaching at the two latter places, and then calling at Nauvoo and Colchester, Illinois. In all these places we found much interest gaining fairly. While at the latter place Brother Arthur Millikin, the husband of Lucy, the youngest sister of Joseph the Seer, told us that Brigham Young in a council at his (Millikin's) house in Nauvoo, soon after the death of the Seer, stated that he knew that "little Joseph" would eventually be the president of the church, but that he strenuously counseled the Saints to say nothing of that matter lest the Gentiles destroy the lad.
Conference convened in Goldman's Hall, Amboy, Illinois, April 6, Joseph Smith presiding. On that day President Joseph Smith prophesied that those who taught polygamy, or its like, should speak with stammering tongue, and not have the blessings of the faithful elders. We have since seen this fulfilled in some who were once prominent ministers, but whose names we need not mention.
On the 8th the revelation given in March, 1863,
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calling William Marks to be a counselor to Joseph Smith, the President of the church, was presented and read to the conference, and after due deliberation it was accepted by unanimous vote.
Conference gave the conduct of the press, including Herald and printing-business, into the hands of President Joseph Smith and Bishop I. L. Rogers.
In his report, Brother E. C. Briggs said: "Since I last reported * * * I went around among the branches in Western Iowa, and found that great progress had been made there. In Raglan Branch I baptized ten, and I believe that more than one thousand have been added within a year."
President Joseph said: "Some say that polygamy will be a doctrine of this church; but I take this opportunity to say that I utterly discard the doctrine in every shape and form, and under all circumstances whatever. * * * Some have said that James J. Strang laid his hands on my head and ordained me as his successor while I was in bed. I say that the statement is not true."
On the 7th Elders E. C. Briggs and C. G. McIntosh were appointed missions to Utah, Nevada, and California.
On the 8th Brother William Marks was ordained a counselor to President Joseph Smith. The ordination was under the hands of President Joseph Smith, J. W. and E. C. Briggs.
The entire session was marked by unity, earnestness, and an ardent desire to forward the work of the Lord.
After spring conference, on request, I visited
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and labored in the branches in Fox River Valley, including Mission, reorganizing the latter, by vote, April 14, and on the 23d started for my home in Little Sioux, going by way of Ottumwa, and then by stage and on foot via the branch ten miles south of Leon, Iowa. Tarried there, preaching till the 27th, when by vote we reorganized the (Little River) branch. Elder George Morey was chosen president, Eli Steele priest, D. B. Morey teacher, and William Alden clerk.
On the 28th I baptized Ebenezer Robinson and his wife, Angeline E.; A. W. Moffett and wife, Lydia Ann; Robert Booth, Elizabeth Jordan, and Miss Sarah L. Alden. I had baptized three on the 26th, one on the 27th, and on the 29th I baptized eleven, twenty-two in all, and the Saints seemed united and spiritual. We give the above details for reasons that may appear later on. May 1 found me in Bedford, Iowa, traveling by coach with a Reverend ___, a Campbellite. On entering the coach the night before at Leon this gentleman learned I was a minister of the Latter Day Saints' denomination, and he at once set about correcting the doctrinal errors by which, he said, I had been deluded. All night long he belabored me with Scripture texts and Campbellite logic, as opportunity offered, and I patiently listened and mentally took notes. It then came my time, and during that May Day the reverend heard so much of the doctrine and history of the Saints that, when I parted with him in the evening at Brother William Matthew's hotel, in Fisher's Grove, he bade me an
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affectionate good bye, also bade me God-speed, and expressed a hearty desire to investigate the faith still further, for he found his system of faith weak and faulty and perceived that there were vastly more primitive Christianity, more harmony with Scriptural truth, and more sound, practical sense in what the world calls Mormonism than he and many others thought possible. Giving this man a patient, respectful hearing secured the same from him and resulted in making him a friend, at least, and probably a defender, if not an advocate, of the faith of the Saints.
While at Fisher's Grove, on May 6, I baptized a number of those once prominent Cutlerites, namely: William Redfield and wife, Thaddeus Cutler, Sr., and wife, Nicholas Taylor and wife, B. B. Anderson, and Miss Maria Cutler.
On the 9th, en route home, I called on the branch in Council Bluffs and found it in a divided state, owing to intermeddling and officiousness on the part of ministers who claimed that, by virtue of their high grade of office, they had the right to set in order the branch and its officers, not only with out, but contrary to, the wishes of the branch and its officers. This, we taught, was both impolitic and unlawful, for none but those chosen and appointed to that work had authority to interfere with branch affairs, and they must do so only as requested or permitted by the majority of the branch, or its officers.
On Tuesday, the 12th, I reached home, and about one o'clock, Saturday morning, the 16th, Brother
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S. W. Condit and I were called to administer to a young man whose parents and family had recently moved into Little Sioux. The case was a peculiar one. He seemed to be suffering the agonies of an extreme attack of bilious colic, his family thinking that to be his affliction. Immediately on entering the room, where his father and brother were supporting him in their arms, the family all being present, we laid our hands on him and fervently prayed for his healing. In a moment he quieted down, was laid on a trundle-bed, and apparently went to sleep. The parents said he had been afflicted with spells of that kind during the past fourteen years and physicians differed as to what the affliction really was, but all, or nearly all, said it would terminate fatally at no distant time. On reaching the street Brother Condit and myself concluded the case was a most unusual one, and that the trouble was not at an end. About four hours afterwards we were called again, and on reaching the house met Brother David Gamet, who had been called to assist. It was now fairly light, and the appearance of the young man, with what we had heard of the case, led us to each engage in prayer before administering to him, and while engaged in prayer the Holy Spirit testified that an evil spirit vexed the young man. When we stated that fact to the family, just half of them believed with us, and the others disbelieved. After anointing and sealing with prayer, he, as before, quieted down, and apparently went to sleep, and was at least heedless of his surroundings until near noon on Sunday the 17th, when we
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prayed for him again with results similar to what had occurred before. In the evening, growing worse, he was administered to again, Brethren Condit, Gamet, and Mitchell assisting. On this occasion we requested every person not fully in faith with us who believed him vexed with Satanic power, to please withdraw from the room, that no unbelief might be present to hinder, citing the fact that Jesus and the apostles taught, that unity of faith was essential in such cases, and that unbelief hindered, as in Mark 5: 40; Luke 8: 51; Acts 9: 40; Matthew 13: 58; 17: 20; Hebrews 11: 6, etc. After a season of united, fervent prayer, we administered to him; the Spirit of the Lord was present in manifest power, and in a moment he was fully released and restored, his speech came to him all right, and, arising to his feet he said, "I am all right now." Since that time, when annoyed and perplexed, at times he had been afflicted somewhat similarly. But always faithful administration by elders who understand the case has brought relief -- all in the name of Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all the honor and the glory.
On the 23d I attended a regularly appointed business-meeting in Galland's Grove. Certain ministers had interfered with the rights and duties of the presiding elder, and I instructed those present that the high priests, seventies, and elders, residing in a branch, were simply members of that branch, but were not branch officers and therefore had no authority to dictate in respect to branch affairs nor attempt to set it in order, for that was placed in
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the hands of the legally chosen branch officers selected by vote -- "common consent"-- of those constituting the branch, and that if they needed aid they should took to their next presiding officer, the president of the district. To sustain this position, the law of the church and precedents touching the case from church history were presented, and what threatened to be a bitter cause of controversy and division gave place to the order, "let every man stand in his own office and labor in his own calling," and unity and fellowship were both restored and strengthened, and the branch grew apace in numbers and in spiritual gifts and graces.
From the 28th till June 6 Brother E. C. Briggs and I were engaged in procuring team and wagon and fitting out the missionaries for the Utah and California mission. On this last date a special conference met near Council Bluffs, with large attendance. There were fourteen two-day meetings appointed in the Western Iowa District.
After some discussion conference decided that district presidents were the proper officers for branches or their officers to apply to for counsel and aid in setting branch affairs in order:
"After singing and prayer it was decided that transient high priests, seventies, and elders had no right to go into branches and attempt to set them in order, that that business belonged to those who were set apart and sent by conferences for that purpose. The decisions of a High Council in Zion and a Solemn Assembly in Kirtland, were cited as precedents governing the case. Said decisions are
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found in Times and Seasons, volume 5, page 738. The elders were exhorted to preach the gospel and let mysteries alone. " -- Saints' Herald, volume 4, page 28.
The decision was generally thought to be correct, and all heartily acquiesced in it.
Elder Wheeler Baldwin "bore a strong testimony to the truth of the Reorganization and said he had not enjoyed the Spirit and power of God so much for the past thirty years as he had since he united with this work last March. The power of the Spirit was with the branch at Manti (Fisher's Grove), and he hoped to see many more unite with them soon."
This conference and the Western. Iowa District aided promptly and liberally in fitting out the missionaries going to Utah and California, Brethren E. C. Briggs and Alexander McCord, who proceeded at once to their field of labor, going with a team of mules and light spring wagon over the inhospitable plains near eleven hundred miles to Salt Lake City.
From this till August 1 I was busily engaged in the ministry and had excellent success. Much was being said on the subject of "equality in temporal things" in some quarters, and it fell to my lot to explain that principle in a special conference near Brother Alfred Bybee's, above Crescent City, and in doing so I cited the fact (generally overlooked by over zealous advocates), that it is a many sided subject, and that wisdom demands that it be viewed on each and all sides; that "needs, wants," and
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many other "circumstances,", including qualifications and abilities, must be placed under consideration when investigating it, for notwithstanding Jesus proposed that his servants should be equal, yet "unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according his several ability"; also that the Saints are called to be "one in Christ Jesus," yet they have "gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us," and that this fact is briefly set forth in these words given through Joseph the Seer, in Doctrine and Covenants 51: 1, when providing for the organization and settlement of the Saints in the land of Zion according to the law of the celestial kingdom: "Wherefore let my servant Edward Partridge, and those whom he has chosen, in whom I am well pleased, appoint unto this people their portion, every man equal according to their families, according to their circumstances, and their wants and needs."
The "wants" and "needs" and "circumstances" connected with the individual, the nature of his business, stewardship, capabilities, and everything else that affects him and his work, must enter into the account and be considered, for these are the grounds upon which "equality" was and is to be established.
On mature thought and careful investigation as to what "equality" was and is in the sight of the Lord, some concluded they had erred in regard to it and so let their "zeal without knowledge" cool down.
At a prayer-meeting in Little Sioux, August 12,
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the Spirit of the Lord testified in power that wisdom would be given those called to lead his people.
The two-day meetings held during the summer and fall resulted well, many souls were added to the church, the labors of the ministry were harmonized, the Saints increased in unity and in spiritual things, and the religious prejudices of their neighbors were largely overcome.
On the second day of October, at Brother Jonathan Haywood's, I met Brethren Joseph, A. H., and David H. Smith, also a Brother William Davis, all just in from Nauvoo, Illinois. Conference convened on the 6th, about five miles east of Council Bluffs, and Joseph Smith was chosen to preside. Reports showed large increase in membership and excellent conditions spiritually. On question it was decided that a branch president has no right to delegate his presiding authority to any one, but that when he is absent the next in branch authority presides; nevertheless that a branch president has the right to call others to his assistance in ministering in word and ordinance.
President Smith said the elders should preach the gospel, and not tear down others; that they should build upon the sure foundation and teach by example -- be sure to preach the gospel and not politics, for the latter was no part of their business as ministers.
Brother A. H. Smith was appointed to travel and preach with me the ensuing fall and winter.
"Lewd fellows of the baser sort," because the conference would not suffer them to sell strong
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drinks near by, threatened to raid the grounds at night. Captain Frost, learning of this, kindly tendered the services of his company of "home guards," and they patrolled the conference grounds at night, and peace and the best of order prevailed.
Going with Brother Joseph and company, we made the tour of Crescent City, Little Sioux, Bigler's Grove, Galland's Grove, Union Grove, Council Bluffs, Plum Hollow, and Manti. In all, or nearly all of these places, President Smith counseled the Saints to fix themselves in permanent, happy homes, as best they could, and to the extent of their ability. He had made that a special point in his first trip to the West, the year before, for the reason (as we well knew, and deplored, and sought to correct) many thought the time to gather into one locality was just at hand, and that therefore it was not wise and proper to invest to much extent in real estate. President Smith and his colleagues advised the Saints to secure all the lands they could, practicably, and then "make thereon convenient, attractive homes, and settle down as if to remain a thousand years." Some thought he was inexperienced and not yet well instructed in relation to the gathering of the Saints, and so did not profit by the advice, but others did. The following I wrote to the Herald:
"On Friday, October 16, I was with the brethren at Galland's Grove. We stopped at the house of Brother Alexander McCord. That night Joseph had a remarkable night vision, which he told me in the morning. He said: 'I saw in my dream a
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woman, whom I was to receive into my charge, and under my watchcare and counsel, and she was almost wild, having been held captive a long season by barbarians, who had degraded and dishonored her. She was nearly naked. The clothes that were upon her were tattered and torn, and very filthy withal, and her whole appearance was that of extreme wretchedness. In her pitiable condition, she looked with distrust upon all around her, especially on me, apparently fearing lest 1, too, would abuse and disgrace her. My heart was deeply moved with her deplorable condition. I ordered that she be washed, her hair combed, and suitable apparel be given her, including clean underclothes. My request having been complied with, I now saw her again. But how changed, how entirely different from what I saw her last. Her garments now were of spotless purity, her eye beamed with joy and delight, her fears and misgivings were entirely banished, and she expressed her unbounded gratitude to me as her friend and benefactor, while she clasped her arms around my neck and imprinted upon my cheek a multitude of kisses with all the tender affection of a mother.'
"I said, when I heard it, that the dream or vision was of the Lord, and that the woman was the church, her captors a corrupt ministry, her wild, ragged, dirty condition represented her sinful, demoralized state, her distrust represents what is being said by many of the Saints in Europe and America, that is, that by and by Joseph will lead into the same corrupt doctrines and practices as Brigham Young,
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Strang, and others. The clothing in clean apparel represents the redeeming of the Saints by righteousness; the balance is easily understood. How plain this points out Joseph's mission and what will be done! On Saturday, the 17th, Joseph preached from Psalm 84:10: 'I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. In his explication of the text, he showed that the term house, here used, was a figure expressive of the church of Christ, and that the term doorkeeper was likewise a figure, meaning the gospel ministry. His remarks upon the qualifications essential for the ministry were highly instructive and edifying. The latter part of his discourse was upon the righteousness of the individual. He showed by a correct, cogent line of reasoning, that men's professions of righteousness were valueless, except they, in their manner of life, were comfortable to the law of God, and that we arise in the scale of righteousness by our righteous deeds. His sermon proved him fully equal to the important and hallowed duty of pointing the Saints to the 'old paths, where is the good way,' from which they have strayed in the cloudy and dark day, and it will long be remembered by those who heard it." -- Saints' Herald, volume 5, pages 55, 56.
When we were at Manti, October 23 to 26, we had large attendance at our services.
On Sunday night, the 25th, Joseph was expected to preach, but after the opening exercises rose and said: "The Spirit testifies that we ought to hold a prayer- and testimony-meeting." The presiding
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elder of the branch so instructed and a most profitable time was had in prayer, song, testimony, and the exercise of spiritual gifts. After the meeting had been in progress for a season President Smith rose, his eyes filled with tears, and he said: "I feel like prophesying." He then declared that God had begun a work in that place which would save or condemn many, and said the time was at hand when trials would come upon that people, and that those who accepted the Lord's work, and were faithful, would be blessed and prospered, and that those who would not would fear and be scattered; and he called on all to beware lest the diverging currents of tribulation sweep them out and dash them upon the rocks of misfortune. Immediately Brother David H. Smith arose in the Spirit and sang the first two verses of hymn number seventy-five in the Saints' Harmony (he wrote the third verse the next day), which in a poetic way embraces some of the features of the prophecy.
Had the people, thus warned, heeded this admonition of the Spirit, it would have saved many from being driven far away by their fears of threatened calamities, prevented their large losses in the hurried sales of land and other effects, at ruinous rates, and they also might have secured the ownership of Fisher's Grove and the best lands adjacent to it and now constitute one of the most wealthy and important settlements in Western Iowa. But some refused to be counseled for their own good, and they suffered accordingly.
President Smith, Bishop I. L. Rogers, myself, and
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others had advised the purchase from Colonel Cochran, of Council Bluffs, of a large body of excellent timber in Galland's Grove, which he offered chiefly on time at easy prices, and also advised the securing of lands on the Boyer, the Mosquitoes, and the Nishnabotna Rivers, all of which could have been accomplished cheaply and safely had there been united faith in and compliance with the advice of those called to counsel and lead the church in those times.
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Parting with Brethren Joseph Smith, D. H. Smith, and William Davis, Bro. A. H. Smith and I went with Brother John Jamieson to his home below Nebraska City, crossing the Missouri River in a skiff at Otoe Landing. Sunday morning, November 1, at about three o'clock, at the residence of Brother Jamieson was surrounded by a body of armed men in search of five Missouri guerillas who had raided Sidney, Iowa, not far from Fisher's Grove, and in doing so had killed a provost marshal and wounded other, causing great fear and consternation in all that region. For a few moments there was no little excitement, for we did not know but these armed men were Missouri raiders come to rob and lay waste as was their wont in many places in those times. But after an interchange of questions and answers the captain was assured by Brother Jamieson that Brother Alexander and myself were harmless
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preachers instead of Missouri guerillas. This little episode served to remind us keenly of the horrors of the Rebellion then cursing and ravaging our nation.
We remained preaching here till November 6, baptized a few, and then went to Brother John Leeka's, in Iowa, on foot, and attended district conference. After this we labored in and adjacent to the branches in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska during the winter, the weather very cold (at times thirty-two degrees below zero) and snow deep much of the time. Fair success attended our efforts.
December 6, Brother A. H. Smith and the writer administered to Sister Priscilla Conyers, who had been for days previous suffering great pain and blindness, from diseased eyes, and though we hesitated and doubted; when we saw her pitiable condition and the Spirit was given us in answer to fervent prayers, the Lord healed her instantly and she exclaimed to her husband at once, "Jack, thank God, I am healed! The pain has all left my eyes and my head."
On the nineteenth day of January, 1864, Brethren A. H. Smith, Thomas Revell, and the writer administered to Sister Prior Stephenson, of Council Bluffs, for cancer on the under side of socket-arch over her right eye, and by the blessing of God she was soon relieved of the affliction entirely and permanently.
Leaving Brother A. H. Smith to labor in Council Bluffs and vicinity, I proceeded on to Crescent City, North Pigeon, Boomer, Raglan, and Little Sioux, preaching by the way. On the twelfth day of February
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Brother John Johnson went with me to Preparation, where we tarried, preaching three sermons and baptizing Orrin Butts, George M. Scott and wife, Elijah Cobb and wife, and on vote of members present we ordained Brother Butts to the office of elder.
February 20 and 21, attended and presided over a special conference in Little Sioux. Brother Rowland Cobb, who had been silenced for preaching that the soul of man passes into many mortal bodies by transmigration ere it attains celestial glory and perfection, was patiently heard for near two hours in defense and advocacy of that theory, after which scriptural and doctrinal facts were presented in opposition to it, proving that man has but one earthly probation. He promised to no longer preach or teach that theory.
Brother Jehiel Savage had been advocating Southern California as the safe, suitable, and appointed place of gathering, held that there was "the land bountiful" mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and by this had created unrest and dissension with some, and for that reason he had been silenced. He, too, was patiently heard by the conference, his position was disproved, and he, too, resolved to abandon his "private interpretation" of scripture, abide by the doctrinal teachings of the church, and await the word of the Lord on doctrine and church government when necessity called for it. Satan strove hard to effect division, but the Lord gave victory to his cause and confirmed the ministrations of the presiding officers.
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About this time we had occasion to reprove some of the ministry for unministerial antics, attitudes, gestures, and speeches in the pulpit, by which offenses came to sober, spiritually-minded persons, hindering and harming the work of the gospel.
February 29, we administered to Father John F. Roberts for bodily infirmities, and were constrained by the Spirit to tell him his life would be lengthened out and that he would overcome and attain eternal life. (He lived in health for many years afterwards.)
On reading the "History of Joseph Smith" in Times and Seasons and comparing it with the same in the Millennial Star, published by the Brighamites, found it somewhat changed in the latter.
April 6, our mission conference convened in Little Sioux. Attendance fair. Howard S. Smith, on vote; was silenced as an elder and cited to appear at next conference and answer to charges for teaching heretical doctrine.
Sister G. Washington Conyers, being administered to for chronic liver disease, received speedy relief.
April 26, I learned by letter from Brother A. H. Smith that conference had assigned me a mission in the East. About this date I received a copy direct from Elder J. W. Briggs of the revelation he received in Wisconsin, November 18, 1851, in respect to the latter- day apostasy and promised calling of Joseph, the son of Joseph the Seer, to the presidency of the church, and wrote it in my diary, May 1, 1864.
Elders D. B. Harrington and C. G. McIntosh had
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been appointed a mission to Utah by the fall conference of 1863, and the Saints in the branches in the Missouri Valley cheerfully aided in fitting them out. My efforts were directed to this matter, so far as needful, that they should start the last of May.
Worn down with incessant labor, traveling, and preaching, and having been exposed much to the extreme rigors of the winter and the frequent and heavy rains of spring, my bodily powers became weakened and diseased to such an extent that on the fifth day of May I was prostrated with sickness which threatened to be fatal. But on the 20th, having partially recovered, I started with my family to the special conference in North Star Branch, five miles east of Council Bluffs, to go thence to my home in Illinois. I mention this illness only to say that A resulted from persistently violating God's laws -- the laws of life and health -- and thus admonish others to shun like evils.
At this conference, on Monday, May 23, we witnessed an exhibition of faith towards God such as was had in ancient times, but such as, in these degenerate times, is reckoned to be rank fanaticism. Some important matters had been laid over from Saturday, the 21st, but the cold rain was falling, the wind from the east filled the grove with whistling, rustling sounds of warning, foretelling a heavy and protracted storm at hand, and outward appearances forbade any attempt to hold further services. After waiting in tents and covered wagons a short season beyond the time appointed for beginning service, Elders Wheeler Baldwin, J. A. McIntosh,
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Hugh Lytle, S. W. Condit, and others gathered into a tent and in faithful, fervent prayer and supplication laid the wants of the occasion before the Lord, humbly beseeching him to stay the winds and abate the storm that the business deferred might be disposed of in a proper manner. The winds soon abated, the rain ceased to fall, the business of conference was resumed and finished, and when there began to be disputations and wordy strife about matters foreign to conference affairs, the winds raised, the rain began falling, and the session closed while the storm was on. Such was the faith of the Saints in those times.
After this conference we passed on through the Glenwood and Plum Hollow Branches to Manti, assisting what we could in meetings, gaining in health and hope daily. At Manti eight were baptize, among them our daughter, Mary Caroline.
From this point we went on to Pleasanton, Ottumwa, String Prairie, and Montrose, to Nauvoo, where we attended an excellent district conference, meeting with Elders Joseph, A. H., and D. H. Smith, J. W. Gillen, and Ebenezer Robinson. All the exercises were spiritual and edifying. Charity and unity abounded.
We reached Amboy, Illinois, the seventeenth day of June, having been away in Western Iowa about two years and eight months.
June 25 and 26, attended a district conference near Amboy, Father Zenas H. Gurley presiding, and had a season of great joy and gladness. In the social-meeting Sunday morning, Sister Mahala
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Cadwell-Conderman, moved mightily by the Spirit, her face radiant with its power and grace, spoke in prophecy, saying, among other things: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith the Lord, for my coming is nigh; and if they are faithful they shall meet me and see my face."
The ninth day of July found myself and family located in the Rogers' settlement, near Fox River, five miles south of Plano. About this time I wrote Elder J. W. Briggs, in England, stating my objections to his article on "Immortality," in which he assumed that men who become the sons of perdition will never be resurrected.
Hedrickism at this time was near its zenith; predictions had been made by its leader, Granville Hedrick, that infused zeal, if not fanaticism, into the hearts of many of its small membership, and a large proportion of that few were anxiously expecting to soon gather to and possess the lands set apart and dedicated in and about Independence, Missouri, by the first elders of the church in 1831.
I formed the acquaintance of Mr. Hedrick in June, 1857, at Washburn, Illinois, and at other times and places up to 1861 and 1862. From him I learned that he was brought into the church under the labors of Elder Hervey Green, at New Diggings, near Galena, Illinois, then apostatized, and, soon after the death of Joseph the Seer, hearing Elder William O. Clark, he reunited with the church, after that became an adherent of Gladden Bishop, then became engaged to some extent with spirit rappings, then wrote a little book against polygamy and in favor
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of the Saints voting in a president over the whole church. On invitation, in 1857, I attended a little conference over which he presided, near Mackinaw, Illinois; and in 1858 he and a Brother Owens attended a conference of the Reorganized Church at Zarahemla, Wisconsin, after which he gave me and Father Gurley a pressing invitation to attend a conference of the Hedrickites at Bloomington, Illinois, professedly to effect unity and fellowship with the Reorganized Church. Brother E. C. Briggs and I attended it; but before we started we had a season of prayer, dedicating ourselves and our mission to the Lord and seeking his favor and guidance. While at prayer the Holy Spirit fell upon Brother Briggs in power and he predicted that the people to whom we were going would yet "be brought down and be humbled in the very dust." Our astonishment at this testimony was very great, for we had supposed, from what Granville Hedrick and others had written us, that the Hedrickites were about to unite with the Reorganized Church. This we ardently desired, and we therefore interpreted the prediction in the light of our wishes, for we thought that when they learned the doctrine and history of the church they would feel self-condemned and humbled because they had not learned and understood the truth before.
And so we went on, still hoping they would soon unite with us. But in this we were doomed to bitter disappointment, for Mr. Hedrick, in his opening speech in conference, occupying between two and three hours, did little else than scandalize and berate the character and work of Joseph the Seer, a man
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he never saw, and so wretched was this tirade that I withdrew and strolled up into town till I supposed he had exhausted both himself and his subject. This ended my confidence as to the Christian fairness and wisdom of Mr. Hedrick and my hopes for a coalition of the people he presided over with the Reorganized Church. Therefore, in 1864 and 1865, though most strenuous efforts were made by its leaders, I was conscious that. Hedrickism was short lived and doomed to defeat and dissolution. But that faction caused some annoyance among "the ignorant and unlearned," chiefly, however, by its misstatements and misrepresentations in respect to Joseph the Seer and the church under his presidency and the Reorganized Church under the presidency of his son. Mr. Hedrick's predictions, especially in respect to our nation and the gathering of the Saints, proved that God never called and sent him to lead the Saints, for they failed miserably.
July 16 Elder George Rarick and I started for the East on mission work, going by the way of Mission Branch, Illinois, thence to Galien, Michigan, and from there to Whitestown, Franklin, and then to Brother H. N. Kent's, near Summitsville, Indiana, preaching at all these places and baptizing. I left Brother Rarick to continue his ministry in that and adjoining fields and went to Hagerstown, and thence in company with Elder Frank Reynolds to Dalton, Indiana, preaching there to large congregations, and, leaving Brother Reynolds in charge there proceeded on to Cincinnati and Syracuse, Ohio, and began a series of fruitful meetings there the twenty-eighth
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day of August, preaching daily and visiting inquirers from house to house as opportunity offered, held frequent social- and prayer- meetings, in which the gifts of the Spirit cheered and edified the Saints and those earnestly seeking the way of the Lord. Here I baptized David Griffiths and wife, and John Thomas and wife -- father, mother, sister, and brother-in-law of Gomer T. Griffiths, of the Twelve. The latter then was a little boy whom, if I remember aright, I then blessed.
September 13 found me in Wheeling, West Virginia, where I met with Arthur and Alexander Bickerton, Frederick Ebeling, and others, all of whom treated me with kindness, and on the 16th met with Elder James Brown and others, all of whom were Bickertonites. In the evening I attended their council meeting, and, on invitation, I addressed them, urging the necessity of accepting the authentic revelations of Joseph the Seer as indorsed officially by the church.
On the 17th I visited J. Gillespie, Mrs. Elizabeth Allen, and others, some of whom said they had seen me in night vision just prior to my coming. I held three meetings in Wheeling, Elder James Brown, of the Bickertonites, taking part in the services by my request. Seeking opportunities, I hunted up and visited with many who became interested in the doctrine and church I represented, many of whom afterwards united with us, and prominent among these latter was this Elder Brown. On the twenty-second day of September he went with me to Kate's Rock, a few miles below Wheeling, where we tarried five
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days, preaching, and on the 26th I organized a branch of nine members, James McDiffit presiding elder, George L. Spencer teacher, and Samuel Davenport deacon. At this meeting Elder James Brown and Mrs. Melvina Davis also gave their names for membership. He was one of William Bickerton's apostles.
October 1 I was at Wheeling and attended a meeting in which Elder William Bickerton and I presented our views on church government. He finally argued that all the law needful was that written in the heart of the disciple. I replied that if this were true there was no need for the written instructions given by our Lord and his apostles -- "the law and the testimony" -- and that it were vain to expect man to be judged according to that "written." Finding his position faulty, he at length concluded that the Doctrine and Covenants was given to the church under Joseph the Seer, but that it was not needed now, and that some of its revelations were not true. After holding a few more services and baptizing a number, I proceeded on to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the fourth day of October, where I met Brethren Josiah Ells, A. Falconer, Joseph Parsons, Jesse Price, Matthew Smith, and others, and at once began preaching and looking up the scattered sheep throughout the city, and also in Allegheny City, where I met Brother James McDowell and family, Sister Mary Hulmes and family, and others who were interested in our efforts.
October 19 I went by steamer to Mingo coal works and was the guest of Brother James Brown and
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family. Continued here till the 26th, preaching, visiting, and baptizing, and then returned to Pittsburg, where I continued five days.
As I write of these experiences, my heart is filled with gratitude to God for his guidance and grace, and for the Christian love and fellowship of the Saints during my labors among them. A goodly number were baptized by Brother Josiah Ells and myself, and the Spirit of the Lord comforted and confirmed the souls of the disciples.
October 31 I reached New Brighton, near Beaver, Pennsylvania, and hunted up a goodly number of old members in those two towns and their vicinities. A Sister Carter, widow of a one time presiding elder of a branch at that place, related how Brigham Young, in an evening conversation with her husband and others, in 1844, stated that he no longer needed the Bible as a guide, because he had in his breast a surer guide than that.
Returning to Pittsburg I proceeded by train to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I found Elder William Small and family, at one time worthy and helpful members of the church, but who became bewildered by Rigdonism. They received me kindly. On the 10th I reached Hyde Park and was cordially received by Randolph Jones and others interested in our work. Here and at Providence and Hampton I hunted out a few who in due time united, with the church.
Brother James Jenkins had previously written me to know whether it was advisable for him to flee to Canada to escape being drafted (money being
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offered him by those opposed to the draft), or to enlist, get bounty, and thus enter the service of the Union. I had replied to him promptly to stand by his adopted country and its laws, enlist for its defense, arrange as well as he could for the comfort of his family, and go into the service of his country trusting in God for guidance and preservation, and that doing so he would be blessed and prospered. I now found he had accepted my counsel and with the liberal aid he had received from the city and nation and other sources had settled his family in a comfortable way and had gone to the army. It was my privilege to meet him a year afterward and learn that he never had occasion to go into battle, enjoyed perfect health and returned home with an honorable discharge and received the blessings of his household and substantial tokens of respect from his fellow citizens.
On the 22d I visited Pittston and there found some old members of the church, and on the 28th reached St. Clair, where I remained preaching for a short time. I labored also at Shenandoah, Minersville, and Pottsville, baptizing at some of the foregoing places.
The 30th found me in the city of Philadelphia, the guest of N. H. Ditterline, a member of the church in the days of the Seer. On answering my call at the door, he exhibited amazement and surprise, but invited me in and greeted me very warmly, and a short time afterwards told me he saw me in a night vision, the night before I came, with satchel in hand, just as I came to him. Of course, the Lord went
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before me as he promises to do for his servants, and prepared the hearts of the family so that I never wanted for a home and Christian helpers in Philadelphia so long as Brother Ditterline and family were living.
I was shown before reaching the city -- a vast threshing -- floor where I gathered eighteen large, beautiful grains of wheat from among the straw and chaff. In due time, after patient labor, I gathered out eighteen worthy members, and after that others were added to their number.
Here I first met and was kindly received by Brother and Sister John Chisnall, now of Kewanee, Illinois. In this city I found the remains of a Rigdonite branch, Joseph Newton, the leader of one part of it, and James Logan, the leader of another part. These would not agree, except in opposing my efforts. Pilate and Herod now became friends. As I had done many times before, I took up collections at my meetings to defray contingent expenses of hall hire, advertising, car fare, etc., and was liberally sustained in this manner until I effected a branch organization. The branch ever afterwards carried out similar methods in their financial matters. While in this city I called on the officers of the Brighamite branch, sought the privilege of speaking to their people or the use of their hall at a convenient season for that purpose, but was denied and opposed.
December 21 I returned to Pittsburg and labored there and in Allegheny City until the 26th, when I took train for my home at Sandwich.
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During all this trip abroad, among total strangers chiefly, though feeble in bodily health, I was greatly cheered and strengthened and prospered of the Lord, planting the work of Christ in many places and winning many souls to the loving service of the Lord.
January 14, 1865, found me with Brother I. L. Rogers at the home of David Dancer, near Wilton, Illinois, not far south of Chicago. A Reverend Rufus Smith, Mount Morris, had an appointment to preach in Wilton against the Latter Day Saints, and Mr. Dancer, whose wife was a member of the Reorganized Church, had procured Brother Rogers and me to be present and look after the interests of our members. We were therefore on hand promptly at the meeting hour, in the midst of a packed and overflowing congregation, to see and hear what was done to overthrow the Reorganized Church. In the pulpit and in front of it there were many sectarian preachers, and as we perceived Mr. Smith to be a shrewd, intellectual, and experienced speaker, we trembled lest, by his arts, he inflicted harm on the little flock of inexperienced members present. Moved by a common impulse of the Holy Spirit, Brother Rogers and myself, though seated some distance apart, prayed silently but fervently that God would interpose and make the occasion one to bless and strengthen the Saints.
When Mr. Smith attempted to speak derisively of Joseph the Seer and the Saints, he would stammer and stutter and seem at great loss both for ideas and words, but on the other hand when he would speak faithfully of the doctrine they advocated he was
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quite fluent. This condition continued with him until at length he apologized for his embarrassing condition, saying he never before was troubled in that manner. He then related that he met on the train, coming, "a good Latter Day Saint" who told him that God restored the gospel through Joseph Smith, by the hands of an angel (and here he turned and directed his words to the ministers about him), "because we are divided and contentious in regard to religious matters and do not follow strictly the teachings of Jesus and his disciples as written in the Bible!" He further stated that from that time forward he would seek to teach, faithfully, what was written in the Scriptures, and for financial support he would trust the Lord, and when called to leave home on preaching tours would leave his greenbacks with his wife, and even surrender his staff, if he had one. He remarked that this strange Latter Day Saint whom he met believed in the Bible and was remarkably well posted in it, and he called him "a good brother." In after times I sought diligently to find out who that good brother was, but could never learn, though I supposed I then knew every Latter Day Saint in all those regions or near them. Reverend Smith, a year afterwards, gave notice and returned and preached there "the funeral sermon of Protestantism," and thereafter abjured all church organizations. We held a few meetings, setting forth the doctrine of the church, and agreeable to previous arrangements returned home with Brother Rogers.
I spent the balance of the winter laboring chiefly
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in Fox River Valley and Central Illinois. April I a council of the ministry met at the schoolhouse near Brother I. L. Rogers'. President Joseph Smith was chosen to preside, and Charles Derry clerk. Here the question was raised in regard to the ordination of Africans to offices in the priesthood, and considerable discussion ensued. In a prayer-meeting, the evening of the 2d, a brother, Joseph Robinson, spoke in tongues, and President Smith gave the interpretation in which it was stated that the War of the Rebellion would be "brought speedily to a close," and that our nation would "have peace for a season;" also that the "prejudice of race, color, and caste would soon be done away among the Saints," and that "every nation and people" would soon have gospel ministers of their own."
Council continued until the 6th, when conference convened in Plano, Joseph Smith and William Marks presiding. At this conference President Joseph Smith was appointed to take charge of the publishing and editorial departments of the Herald Office, and of all the church publications. I was appointed to preside over the eastern district of the United States. This conference directed "that all appointments of missions by the conference are made with the understanding that they (the missionaries) are to labor in their ministry under the direction of the presidency of countries of pastorates in which their fields of labor lie."
The conference and councils were agitated no little on the question as to whether the Saints were justified in bearing arms in the service of the nation.
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Prominent among those who took the negative was Brother Samuel Powers, a man of great moral worth and intellectual force; but the church, through its conferences and councils hitherto, had affirmed that they were justified, and they so affirmed now by a very large majority, and ruled that the Saints should follow the instruction previously given by committee of three appointed by conference, who prepared and published an article entitled "Loyalty." On the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth days of May, council of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles was held at the residence of Bishop I. L. Rogers, near Sandwich, Illinois, in which it was resolved to reaffirm the article published in the Herald on the first day of May, 1863, entitled "Loyalty of the Saints"; also that the "Choice Seer" of 2 Nephi, chapter two, is Joseph Smith the Martyr; also that in case a president of a branch refuses to act in accordance with the will of the majority of said branch, the other officers of the branch should report him to the next higher in authority over such president. It was also resolved that "the gospel makes provisions for the ordination of men of the negro race who were received into the church by obedience to its ordinances."
This latter question was discussed, pro and con, with great warmth and persistency, and when put to a vote none would vote for it nor against it. Whereupon, Father Zenos H. Gurley said: "It is evident that we feel we lack wisdom in respect to this question, and I therefore move that we now refer it to the First President of the church, that
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he may lay it before the Lord and ask for needed instruction." President Smith arose and said: "If it be your judgment that this motion obtain, please raise your right hands"; and all hands were raised. The hour was now late, the council therefore adjourned; and on assembling the morning of the 5th, President Joseph Smith presented and had read the revelation found in section 116, Doctrine and Covenants.
Many of the council bore testimony that the Lord witnessed by his Spirit to them that the revelation was divine; and all, on motion, accepted it as of the Lord. But though I, with Bishop Rogers, accepted it heartily, and had previously advocated its sentiments, yet neither of us then received any special evidence of its divinity. But on the next day after, Brother Rogers called at my house and requested to hear the revelation (a copy of which I had) read again, "for" said he, "I received no testimony by the Spirit when it was read in council, nor since." I then took the revelation, sat down in the doorway, and read it aloud, Brother Rogers and my wife being near; and just as soon as I began reading, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon each of us in great assurance, witnessing the truth of the revelation and melting us to joyful tears. Some months after this, when in Pennsylvania and reading the Book of Mormon, Alma 15: 11, 12, the Lord opened my understanding and enabled me to see, in the paragraphs here cited, that his word there given taught the same sentiments as those contained in the revelation. In after times I inquired of many
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if they had ever fully understood the sentiments set forth in those paragraphs and was universally answered that they had not. This occurrence, like many others of a similar character, shows how perfectly the teachings of the Spirit of God agree, though given to different persons, in different ages, and in different parts of the world.
May 9, 1865, after prayer and committing myself and family to God, I parted from them to prosecute a mission to St. Louis, Missouri., as requested by the late conference. I proceeded on to Davenport and New Buffalo, Iowa, looking after the interests of the branches in these places, and then went to Burlington, and to Nauvoo, Illinois, the 15th. While there I had an interview with Sister Emma, the widow of Joseph the Seer, and her son Alexander. She stated that in the spring of 1844 a council, composed of a number of the leading authorities ' of the church, was held in Nauvoo, and at its close Elder G. J. Adams came and said to her, rejoicing greatly, that one matter was now settled; they now knew who Joseph's successor would be, -- it was little Joseph, for he had just seen him set apart under the hands of his father and others.
Brother Alexander H. Smith then related that Elder James Whitehead, a one time secretary of Joseph the Seer, said to him not long before, that in the spring of 1844, just prior to the death of the Seer, "young Joseph" was set apart in a council by his father and others to be his successor, and that Bishop Whitney, Doctor Bernhisel, W. W. Phelps, Alpheus Cutler, Willard Richards, and, he thought,
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John Taylor were present on that occasion; also that Bishop Whitney held the horn of oil; and further, that Joseph the Seer afterward stated to the Saints from the public stand that he was no longer their prophet, and, putting his hand on young Joseph's head, he said, "This is your prophet. I am going to rest."
I reached St. Louis the 19th and soon became acquainted with many warm hearted Saints residing here. Here I met Brother Gillen, and we proceeded to regulate and set in order what was needed in that branch, and in the one at Gravois, a few miles away. Some of the elders residing in the St. Louis Branch assumed the right to hold branch councils and pass rules for the government of the branch. We held, in councils, regularly called, that they had no authority for such acts, for the reason that they had not been appointed to it by either the branch or the district. Thereupon the council, on motion, resolved: "1. That only those chosen by the branch in a regular way are its authorities. 2. That all branch councils must be called by the branch or its presiding authorities."
On mature reflection the ministry and the membership heartily accepted our ministration, and peace, unity, and good fellowship were restored.
May 30 we wrote a notice to Elder George Hall, president of the St. Louis Branch, silencing him as a minister and demanding his license to be given to Elder William Hazzledine, president of the St. Louis District, and requesting him to await final action on his case.
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We continued to preach in St. Louis and vicinity until the eighth day of June, when Brother Gillen parted with me, he going to Cincinnati and the East.
During the time I remained in St. Louis a Sister Robert Smith and another sister, moved by a spirit to deceive and mislead, visited me at Brother James Anderson's. On entering the room and speaking to me, I discerned at once the spirit she was actuated by, and I reproved her for her unchristian course. About these times it seemed that a great variety of spirit influences were at work to blind, mislead, and destroy the branch; but in due time all was set in order, a goodly number were baptized, and the Spirit of the Lord gave much light and edification to the members.
July 2, conference of the St. Louis District convened. Elder William Hazzledine was chosen president, and by suitable effort, aided by the counsel we gave, district affairs were placed in a very satisfactory and promising condition.
On the 4th the Saints and some of their friends celebrated the day at a point in the forest west of the city. The Declaration was read by Elder George Thorp, addresses made by myself and others, recitations by the children and young people followed, interspersed with songs and hymns, and a most enjoyable season was had. After these exercises closed, I baptized four persons.
I remained in St. Louis and vicinity up to the 5th and was much blessed by the Lord and liberally aided by the Saints and friends. From here I went to Hannibal, Missouri, remained three days, held
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three services, and then passed on to Quincy and home.
On the twenty-seventh day of July I went, in company with my family, Father Z. H. Gurley, Elijah Banta, and Mrs. M. Faulkner, to East Paw Paw, where I had, at one time, been engaged in merchandising for years, and we held services in the seminary hall in the evening, replying to an attack upon our church, made by Elder Sheldon of the Methodist Church. The hall was filled to overflowing by my old neighbors, anxious to learn the facts of our faith as assaulted by Reverend Sheldon. The Lord stood by me in power and the services resulted well, some being converted to the faith by the presentation made. We all passed on to conference the next day, which convened the 29th, and though the attendance was not large, we were greatly blessed of the Lord. On the 30th Mrs. Faulkner [now Sister M. Walker] was baptized by Father Z. H. Gurley, and at her confirmation in the afternoon it pleased God to bestow on her the baptism of his Holy Spirit, fully confirming her in the faith of the gospel of Christ.
August 8 found me at Brother George A. Blakeslee's, Galien, Michigan, and on the 15th I reached Kirtland, Ohio. Preached here till the 22d, and then went on, via Erie, Pennsylvania, to Brookfield, Ohio, where I remained preaching and baptizing as opportunity offered till August 29, when I was joined by Brethren Stephen J. Stone and C. G. Lanphear on their way west from New York. I proceeded thence to New Brighton, Pennsylvania, the 30th.
The second day of September I received a letter
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from my wife stating that our son Charles had his arm broken. That night I made his case one of special prayer, and I saw him in a night vision, looking ruddy and well, the afflicted arm swinging leisurely at his side, and I said to him, "Charley, how is your arm?"
He replied, "O, it is all right now."
I said to him further, "Does it not pain you any?"
"No," he replied, "it has pained me none since I had it administered to."
A few days after this I received a letter from my wife stating nearly if not exactly the very words used by my son in the night vision.
We mention these incidents in detail that the reader may see how the tender watchcare of the Lord through the Spirit is near them who serve him, and that, too, in some of the humbler matters of life.
I remained in New Brighton, Beaver, and vicinities till the 11th, Brother Joseph Parsons and myself, in the meantime, baptizing ten persons and confirming them.
I spent the time from September 11 to the 27th in Pittsburg, Alleghany City, Mingo Coal Works, Brighton, and Forksburg, baptized some at all of these places, and on the 24th organized a branch in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, where there were about thirty members. On the 28th I reached St. Clair, Pennsylvania, remained there a few days and baptized four persons. Also baptized some at Shenandoah City.
October 10 found me in the city of Philadelphia, the guest of John Chisnall, where I met Elder James
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W. Gillen. We labored together till the 18th, in the city, when I went to Hyde Park and he to Fall River, Massachusetts. During the next fifteen days I labored in Hyde Park, Scranton, Pittston, Plymouth, and Danville, and in the latter place baptized four persons and confirmed them at the house of Brother William Crum.
The latter part of October and the chief part of November I devoted my time in the ministry in Pittsburg and vicinity and in New Brighton, from whence I proceeded home, reaching there November 25. The balance of the winter I spent in teaching the district school, near where I resided, and preaching when I could take leisure from school service.
March 18 found me at St. David's, near Canton, Illinois, worn down with school and pulpit labors and exposures, and suffering from bronchial affections which had afflicted me for the past two years. I reached home the 21st, accompanied by Brother Elijah Banta. Before reaching my house I told him I should be sick nigh unto death, and requested him to mention the matter to no one, for the fact had been shown to me some days before, and that I would recover.
Under date of April 11, 1866, my diary notes read follows: "I have been sick with acute bronchitis for the past twenty-three days, but am now recovering fast and am able to ride to Plano in carriage and attend the last day of conference."
Brother Joseph Smith, at the opening of conference, April 6, in an inspirational prayer, pleaded
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with the Lord for my recovery, also that my voice be heard in the conference ere its close. That prayer was granted, though all outward indications were against it, until the evening of the 10th. From that time forth I gained in health rapidly, and on May 2 went with Brethren Marks and Rogers to Nauvoo to procure the manuscript of the Inspired Translation by Joseph the Seer. On the morning of the 3d we called on Sister Emma, the widow of the Seer, stating that we had come by direction of the church to procure the manuscript, that it might be prepared for the printer and be published at an early time. She very readily placed it in our hands, and in reply to our inquiry as to what remuneration she asked for taking care of it in the past, she replied that she would make no charge, but said if we would furnish her a copy of the book when published she would be pleased. We said to her that the church was quite willing to pay her well for the manuscript, either a stated amount or a percentage on sales, as she might choose. She replied promptly that if she had desired to sell the manuscript she could have done so long ago at a large price, for the Brighamites and others had importuned her for it and some had attempted to steal it. She said that she had entertained no fears of any one getting it in any improper way from her possession, for she was conscious that the watchcare of the Lord was over it.
Returning home on the 5th, contrary to previous arrangements and by admonition of the Holy Spirit, I speedily arranged and went to Michigan and
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labored a short season and then proceeded on to Kirtland, reaching there the fifth day of June, where I spent fifteen days, preaching there and at other points in that region with good results. Here I was joined on the 18th by President Joseph Smith and Elder Elijah Banta, on their return from a trip to Washington, Joseph having been called there by the chairman of the Committee on Territories. On the 20th Elder Banta and I went to Mineral Ridge, Ohio, where we preached a short season, baptized some, and went thence to Brookfield, Ohio. We held a series of meetings at this place, attended district conference July 7 and 8, were greatly blessed in our administration by the Spirit of the Lord, though Elder Banta passed through a season of great trial, Satan and his emissaries seeking in a most subtle manner to destroy his confidence in his ordination to the ministry. The Lord had graciously foreshown to him these assaults of the enemy, and being thus prepared he was thereby fortified against them.
July 9 found us at Brother E. Tyler's, near Conneautville, Pennsylvania. Here we tarried until the 13th, preaching nightly, and daily visiting among the few members and friends residing there. On the 15th we reached Greenwood, New York, where we remained, preaching and reasoning with the people as we had opportunity, until the 22d. While here Brother Banta was greatly blessed of the Lord, the Holy Spirit was given him in large measure the evening of the 22d when preaching. From that time forward he probably never questioned his call to the
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ministry, for whereas he had a great impediment in his speech and had been sorely annoyed with it when trying to preach or speak in public, he now spoke in the pulpit with ease, fluency, grace, and spiritual power. We planted a good work in Greenwood and its vicinity, and we trust yet to see greater fruits resulting there than in the past.
July 24 we reached Hyde Park, Pennsylvania. We labored here and at Providence and other points near by with fair success. Here again Brother Banta was greatly blessed of the Lord in preaching the word, especially at Continental Coal Works, for he there preached one of the most suitable and interesting discourses we ever listened to. His hearers were both surprised and delighted with his sermon. Brother Banta now proceeded to Pittsburg and the West, and I remained preaching at Hyde Park, Pittston, and Plymouth. While laboring at the latter place I visited some Brighamite families, among them those of Joseph E. Betts and his father. Immediately upon entering their house the wife of Joseph E. Betts recognized me, for she, the very night before, had seen me in a night vision and heard me teach from the Doctrine and Covenants. I left them some tracts and papers, they promising to investigate the claims of the Reorganized Church, which they did do, and by and by they united with the church and became, in West Belleville, Illinois, and elsewhere, intelligent advocates and active members. Brother Betts resides there at this writing, and his wife in paradise.
I baptized seven persons while in Plymouth and
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organized a branch there, W. W. Jones presiding elder, and Thomas O. Davis priest. I spent the time from the thirteenth to the twenty- ninth days of August at Danville, St. Clair, and Shenandoah City, preaching and visiting. On the 27th I baptized Jonathan D. Ellis, post-master at Shenandoah City, and ordained him to the office of elder, he to have the watchcare of the church in that city and vicinity. Here we were crowded out of both church and schoolhouse, and on invitation of the proprietor, Mr. Williams, I preached in his saloon and restaurant, having the best of order and attention. I baptized a goodly number in that region while on this trip, and we had great joy and gladness in the society of these Saints.
On the 30th I proceeded to Fall River, Massachusetts, via New York City, and on the 31st began ministerial labors there in connection with Elder William Cottam, president of the little branch planted by Elder J. W. Gillen. -- I continued my labors here, holding meetings at night and visiting among the people by day, until the 11th, during which time five were baptized and the Holy Spirit confirmed the word with signs following.
The 12th found Brother and Sister Thomas Gilbert and myself in Dennisport. We remained there and at Middletown, near by, until the 17th. Brother Gilbert administered baptism to a few. On the 17th I went to Boston, where I tarried, the guest of Brother E. N. Webster, visiting Charleston, Chelsea, Somerville, Lawrence, and Salem. Hunted out a goodly number who became interested in our labors, and on
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the 25th I baptized Brother E. N. Webster and his daughter Enonora in Boston Bay. Here was my first administration of baptism in the sea.
These were days never to be forgotten, for the Lord aided us greatly and made happy the hearts of those who received the gospel in love.
On the 29th I visited Cohassett and called upon the family of Captain Cyrus Gammon. He with his wife had formerly been members of the church, had stumbled over the heretical doings of Brigham Young and others, but still retained a love for the gospel. I learned that there were about thirty former members there, but many of the male members, like Captain Gammon, were out at sea, for they were seamen by occupation.
Between the fourth and tenth days of October I made the tour of Millbury, Pawtucket, Cranston, and Providence, seeking out those who once had been members of the church, and others who were interested in the faith, reasoning with and distributing tracts among those who would receive us.
On the 13th and 14th we held the first conference of the Massachusetts District, Brother William Cottam being chosen to preside. The attendance of the membership was not large, but the Spirit of the Lord blessed the people mightily. The gifts were bestowed abundantly in the meeting the forenoon of the 14th. Among those who were so blessed was a little daughter of Brother William Cottam. She arose in the assembly and in a meek, humble way bore her testimony, saying that God had greatly blessed her with his Spirit in answer to prayer:
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that her teachers and parents had taught her to pray, and she knew that the gospel she had received was of the Lord. At this she stopped speaking, stood and trembled, her face bathed in tears and shining like light, and then, with clasped hands and face uplifted, she broke forth praying in another tongue. The Holy Spirit rested upon the entire assembly in great power, and all were melted to tears. The president of the meeting gave the interpretation, which was a prayer to God that he would bless, preserve, and finally save her in his everlasting kingdom. Time can never efface from my Memory the experience of my first trip in gospel work to the Eastern States.
On the 16th I started for the West, calling at Hyde Park Pittsburg, and New Brighton, Dunmore, Pennsylvania, preaching and teaching as opportunity could be found. A goodly number were baptized. Then went on to Brookfield and Syracuse, Ohio, at each of which places some were baptized. From the latter place I proceeded on by the way of Cincinnati to New Albany, where I met Brother Elijah Banta, agreeable to previous appointment, and from whence we went by carriage to Scottsville on the twelfth day of December and were kindly received by Mr. David Scott. On the evening we began a series of meetings at the schoolhouse. The people seemed very shy. The evening of the 14th we preached in Mount Eden chapel, and had, for one of our hearers, Reverend Henry, of New Albany, who had been imported into Scottsville to refute us and frighten us away. The congregation was very large
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and much excitement prevailed. At the close of the service Reverend Henry requested the use of the house the next morning at ten, in order to discuss the doctrine we taught. It was granted to him by the presiding elder of the Campbellite Church located there, Elder Vardaman Scott, who requested that I be permitted to reply to Mr. Henry if I desired to. On approaching Mr. Henry, in the midst of his fellow ministers and admirers, he said to me, very curtly, "Mr. Blair, I am going to skin you to-morrow!"
To this I replied that I hoped if we had a discussion it would be conducted in a Christian spirit and for the purpose of promoting truth and righteousness. Excitement was now at fever heat. The Campbellites, Methodists, and Adventists, many of them, were fairly mad at me, though there were some already who were believing the principles we advocated, but Mr. Henry was a theological champion, and Campbellite, Advent, and other ministers joined together in bringing him there.
The next day, the 15th, at ten a. m., the church was packed with an eager and excited congregation, among whom were probably no less than a score of ministers. Reverend Henry spoke for two hours, claimed that Christ never had but twelve apostles; that Paul and Matthias and Barnabas, and some others, were simply and only the apostles of the church; also that the gift of the Holy Ghost in its spiritual signs and manifestations, was promised to and enjoyed by none except the apostles and some few Jewish disciples; and were never intended to
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be bestowed, generally, upon the church. He also claimed that the Bible, that used by the Protestants, contained all the word of God ever given to man or that ever would be; and further, that the Latter Day Saints proved themselves heretics when they taught a church organization, similar to that of the Christians in the times of Christ and his apostles, and that the promise of the Holy Spirit should he enjoyed by the membership of Christ's church in these latter days.
We took notes, carefully, and after a ten-minute recess took up his principle points in order and replied for two hours, not a soul of the large congregation leaving their seats.
Reverend Henry then, for half an hour, tried to amend and explain and fix up his flimsy, shattered theories, and to this I replied an equal length of time. This was the beginning of a goodly work in that region of country, and we followed it up with five more discourses and then went on to Franklin, Indiana, where I again joined Brother Banta and from whence we proceeded home.
[ 129 ]
On the twenty-eighth day of December, 1866, I engaged with Brethren Joseph, Ebenezer Robinson, and I. L. Robinson in preparing the manuscript of the Inspired Translation of the Bible and continued to assist in that work, preaching in the meantime when leisure offered, until the first day of July, 1867. In the preparation of this manuscript
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we were greatly blessed and enlightened of the Lord.
Conference convened April 6 to 9, at Keokuk, Iowa, and held an important session. As we were waiting at its close to take train at Keokuk for Montrose and Nauvoo, Brother William Redfield was seized suddenly in the depot, with cramping and convulsions in a most peculiar and distressing manner, an affliction he has suffered with for many years past. Brother Derry coming in at that moment, I silently signified to him, though in the midst of a crowd of strangers, that we should administer for Brother Redfield's relief, and upon this we quietly placed our hands upon his head, praying fervently, but silently, and almost instantly he was completely recovered.
We mention, occasionally, numerous instances of divine interposition, that God may be glorified and his believing children confirmed in present truth.
July 5, accompanied by Brother Ebenezer Robinson, I started out to visit St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, to get the Inspired Translation stereotyped and published. Remained in St. Louis until the 10th, but could not arrange to get our work done in the manner we desired. We then visited Cincinnati the 11th and 12th, but could effect no suitable arrangements for the work in that city. On the 15th and 16th we visited various offices in Philadelphia without success, but on the 17th we called on Wescott & Thompson and readily secured satisfactory terms, and on the 19th concluded our contract in writing. When I told him that the book was a revision, correction, and translation of the
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Scriptures by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, the Spirit of the Lord rested both on him and us, and he exclaimed with tearful eyes: "All right! I want to do your work, and it shall be done well and in good time." Up to this time we had not explained to him the nature of the book, nor our religious associations. From this time forward Mr. Wescott and his associates were our helpers and warm friends. Brother Robinson stated afterward to myself and other that his experiences and testimonies of the Spirit in procuring the stereotyping of the Inspired Translation were quite similar to those attending him in Cincinnati when he procured the stereotyping and publication of the Book of Mormon.
Thursday evening, July 25, I attended an interesting prayer-meeting at Brother N. H. Ditterline's. An elder James Logan, a Rigdonite, created some excitement by his boisterous speech. A sister spoke in tongues and Elder Logan attempted to interpret it, saying that the sister would not change her faith and unite with the Reorganized Church. The sister stopped him and said she had already changed her faith, was now in favor of the Reorganized Church and that God had given her testimony leading to this change. Of this meeting my diary notes say: "The Lord wrought gloriously and many are coming over to the Lord's work." And later I wrote as follows to the Herald:
"On coming to this city in July last, with Brother Ebenezer Robinson, to attend to the stereotyping of the New Translation, we found a branch of the
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Saints organized under the presidency of Elder N. H. Ditterline.
"They had been organized for some six years, holding the view that Sidney Rigdon was the only legal representative of the presidency of the church; and while they had no confidence in the effort that Elder Rigdon and his associates are now making, they nevertheless looked for him to ordain his successor at an early day. Thus they have been looking and waiting, watching and praying, until of late.
"Soon after the arrival of Brother Robinson and myself in the city, we attended some of their meetings, and a privilege being offered us to speak, we bore a few words of testimony to them in regard to the Reorganization. We asked the privilege of holding a meeting among them, to explain our views and position at length. It was granted, and we proceeded to explain the teaching of the Scriptures in regard to lineal priesthood, and to cite the promises to the ‘seed' and ‘posterity' of the Martyr. Brother Robinson then gave an outline of Elder Rigdon's claims and leadership, from the time he professed, in Nauvoo, to be the ‘guardian' for the church, until his final ‘hegira' from Greencastle, Pennsylvania, more familiarly known by some as ‘the valley.'
"He told them how that at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Elder Rigdon professed to set up the ‘little stone,' kingdom of Daniel 2:35, 45, which the revelation of October, 1835 (section 65) and many others in the Doctrine and Covenants, says was set
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up fourteen years before. He also told them of Elder Rigdon baptizing them out of all former organizations, thus rejecting and abandoning the church organized under the Martyr. He furthermore told them of the ‘grand council' of seventy-three, at the head of which was Elder Rigdon and his counselors, and that in this council they cut off offending members without reference to the order appointed in the law of God, and in direct violation of that law. He also told them of Elder Ridgon's revelations and prophecies that proved false, as for instance, his prophecy that Christ would come in person to the ‘barn' where they were holding their protracted conference.
"By this time the people began to think that Elder Rigdon might not be the man of God they thought him to have been, and they undertook a thorough investigation of the matter. We told them to read for themselves, the law and the promises, and ask the Lord in faithful prayer for wisdom and a correct understanding; and also for a testimony through the Spirit as to whether young Joseph was his father's rightful successor.
"A few nights afterwards we attended one of their prayer-meetings, and Brother Robinson and myself took part in the exercises. Two of the branch opposed our position, and one of them (James Logan) seemed quite harsh and bitter, advocating the idea that Elder Rigdon, and he only, was the successor of the Martyr.
"Hitherto this man had exercised an almost unlimited control in the minds of the member, but
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he was doomed to see his counsel and advice fall harmless to the ground. Many of the members had sought unto God by prayer for the needed wisdom and the desired testimony, and the Lord had heard and answered them; and they believed God rather than man, notwithstanding the man was one whom they loved and honored. One after another of the members arose and bore their testimony, and expressed their faith in the Reorganization, until at length one arose and spoke in tongues. The opposing elder professed to interpret it, when he was straightway rebuked by the Spirit through the one who spoke the tongue, and told that if he spoke (to interpret) to speak by the Spirit or not at all. He turned to the person who spoke the tongue, and asked if what he had said (interpreted) was true or false; and the reply was that it was false. The person then declared to the congregation how that she had sought by prayer to God for the testimony of his Holy Spirit, as to whether young Joseph was his father's successor, and the Lord had now given her testimony that he was. And thus it was that in their hour of need, when they had faithfully sought unto God by prayer, he proved to them 'a present help.'
"On the twenty-first day of August I rebaptized Brother N. H. Ditterline, and on the evening of the 22d we proceeded, after confirming Brother Ditterline and ordaining him by vote of the members present to the office of elder -- to organize the Philadelphia Branch, consisting of ten members, including five elders, N. H. Ditterline, presiding elder.
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Some more have expressed a desire to unite with us, and we hope to have an addition of eight or ten more in a short time, and that finally a great work may be done, and a large church raised up in this city.
"We have taken a nice and commodious hall, and are having some pleasant and interesting meetings. We have increasing congregations of attentive listeners. At times the word is declared in power, and in the demonstration of the Spirit, and at all times we have the liberty of the Spirit.
"We ask the Saints to remember in their prayers the work of God in Philadelphia.
"The work of stereotyping the New Translation is progressing finely, and the plates will probably be ready in about six weeks.
"The Lord seems to have the work entirely in his own hands, for he has raised up to us kind friends in the stereotypers, and printers, and bookbinders, men who seem to take a deep interest in the book and in the church.
"PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, August 27, 1867."
On the twenty-ninth day of July we paid Wescott & Thompson one thousand dollars on our contract.
On the 31st Brother Robinson started for Pittsburg and the West.
September 9 I wrote to Sidney Rigdon, Sr., and sent him some proof-sheets of the Inspired Translation. On the 16th, sent sample of paper, also estimates for printing, paper, and binding of the Inspired Translation to Ebenezer Robinson, as I had done to Joseph Smith. On the 17th received
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letter from President Joseph Smith requesting me to go west to labor as soon as I could get released from present duties.
On the 24th I ordered the printing and binding of five thousand copies of the Inspired Translation of the firm of J. P. Lippincott & Co., Wescott & Thompson guaranteeing the payment of fifteen hundred dollars to twenty-five hundred dollars on the contract in ten or twelve days, such confidence did he and his firm have in our reliability.
October 4, at the urgent request of the Saints at St. Clair, Pottsville, and Shenandoah City, made them a visit, laboring among them in word and doctrine.
On the 16th settled with Wescott & Thompson, paying them in full on stereotyping contract. Labored in Pittsburg and vicinity from the 18th to the 24th, and in Brookfleld, Ohio, from the 24th to the 31st, and then proceeded home.
On the seventh day of November I made my report on the Inspired Translation to the publishing committee. From this time until December 25 my time was devoted to preaching in Sandwich, Rochelle, Amboy, Kewanee, Mission, Millersburg, and vicinities, some of the time in company with President Joseph Smith. At the latter place and at Buffalo Prairie, near by, the Lord added to the church, and the hearts of the people were greatly blessed and comforted. December 30 found me at Galland's Grove, Iowa. I continued preaching here and at Denison, Deloit, Dunlap, Little Sioux, Preparation, Council Bluffs, Omaha, Crescent City,
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Plum Hollow, Manti, and other western points. At all of these places I found it well to set forth the claims of the Inspired Translation, and show its superiority in morals, in doctrine, and in historical fact over other versions. In this effort I was blessed richly with the liberty of the Spirit.
The following are some items of my report of this western trip to the Herald:
"Dear Herald: Knowing that the Saints are anxious to hear of the welfare of the church, and of the labors of the elders, from time to time; I now undertake to give a brief sketch of my labors for the past few weeks in Illinois and Iowa.
"On the seventh and eighth days of December I attended conference at Kewanee, Illinois. The work is prosperous in that district. From there I wept. to Millersburg, Illinois, where I preached to large congregations on Sunday, the 15th. The Methodists and Presbyterians began protracted meetings, and our congregations were, for the four evenings following, much smaller than before. I held meetings at four other places, and the attendance was generally large, and much interest was manifest. There is a noble band of Saints in that region. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are enjoyed by many, and there are excellent prospects for large additions to their branches. They intend having a meeting-house built by September next, and already have made a vigorous effort toward getting the materials for it. A sister, the wife of Brother J. B. Larew (LaRue), living in this branch, was healed at the Truro conference, in September last, of ulcers in the
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head, a complaint with which she has been troubled since she was three years old, and from which she has suffered greatly for the past few years, and especially for the last year. Some time before the conference, she dreamed of going to conference, of there seeing President Joseph Smith, of being administered to by him, and of being healed. This she told to many. When the time for conference came, her ill health forbade her attending it, but she finally yielded to the importunities of friends, and went. She there for the first time saw Joseph, was administered to by him, and was healed, just as she dreamed.
"From there I went to Galland's Grove, found the Saints in rather a backward state, but with a fair prospect for improvement. Preached a few times to large congregations.
"At Deloit, Crawford County, I held four meetings, congregations large, attentive, and deeply interested. There is a fine branch here, and it is in a healthy, prosperous condition. At this place met packages of George P. Dykes' papers, and found them to contain many untrue statements in regard to the Reorganized Church, its ministry, etc., to say nothing of their faulty argumentation.
"I next called at Little Sioux, where I preached a few times to large and attentive congregations. While here I dreamed that I heard a wolf howl, and, going out, I looked in a westerly direction, and saw, at a short distance from me, a prairie-wolf. I turned and looked near by, to the northeast, and saw a flock of sheep, one of which had been badly
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mangled by this wolf. When I awoke, I understood this dream as relating to spiritual affairs at Little Sioux. The sheep are Saints, but the wolf is not, though he may profess to be.
I preached once in Crescent City and twice Bluff City. A gentleman in Bluff City, learning that the Saints were in want of a commodious hall, offered them, gratuitously, his newly finished storeroom for our services on Sunday. Our congregations here were large and respectful, listening with marked attention to our discourses on "The Holy Scriptures," and "Are the. Scriptures inspired of God?"
I preached once in Florence, and once in Omaha; found the Saints generally in good spirits.
In company with Brethren S. W. Condit and D. P. Hartwell, went to Manti, Fremont County, and attended quarterly conference; had a very good time; the Lord was in our midst with some degree of power. A great change has occurred at this place within the last few years. Joseph Smith, our president, prophesied in an evening meeting at this place in 1862, that God had begun his work in this place, and, that as many as embraced it and adhered to it would be blessed, and they that did not, would be broken and scattered. This has, to a great extent, been fulfilled already, as many of the Saints here can testify.
While in Western Iowa I learned that certain ones stated that the committee publishing the New Translation had altered it, and that as it is now published, it does not agree with the manuscripts.
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Inasmuch as I have had more or less to do with the manuscripts from the time they were delivered, by Sister Emma Bidamon, in May, 1866, into the hands of President William Marks, Bishop I. L. Rogers, and myself, until they were stereotyped, under my supervision, in the fall of 1867, I will say that the committee were careful in copying to follow the manuscript as they found it, as near as chaptering, versifying, punctuation, etc., would permit. But to put to silence all caviling in regard to that matter, we will quote a prophecy touching the New Translation, found in Doctrine and Covenants 42: 15: "Thou shalt ask and my Scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety." If the manuscripts have been altered, and made to read differently from what the Lord designed, then they have not been "preserved in safety," and this prophecy is false.
One of the strongest proofs that the Reorganized Church is the church of Christ, is found in the fact that God has honored it in causing the New Translation to be brought forth by it. By doing so he has declared, essentially, that they are the believers:
"Thou shalt write these things which I shall speak, and in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught, and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee, and they shall be had again among the children of men: among as many as shall believe." -- Doctrine and Covenants 22: 9.
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And that its ministry are the Lord's ministry and the Lord's elders:
"Thou shalt ask, and my Scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety; and it is expedient that thou shouldst hold thy peace concerning them, and not teach them until ye have received them in full. And I give unto you a commandment, that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. " -- Doctrine and Covenants 42:15.
By referring to the first paragraph of section forty-two, it will be seen that the revelation was given directly to the elders of the Lord's church. In paragraph fifteen we learn that they were to "ask," and the "Scriptures" should "be given," and in the next place they should be "Preserved in safety." This promise is full of meaning, implying great danger through which they would pass before publication, and anticipating the base charge of alteration, or corruption, that would be made by some; and testifying that the Martyr's widow and the Reorganization were safe places of deposit for, and trusty and chosen guardians of, those sacred records.
It further testifies that they (the elders of Christ's church) should "receive them in full" or in their completeness, and commands them, "then ye shall teach them unto all men," so that when we find what church has the honor of bringing forth the Scriptures
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in their fullness, and teaching them to all others, we find the church of Christ.
The Brighamite, Rigdonite, Hedrickite, and all other churches, are dependent on the Reorganized Church for the New Translation. God has chosen that it should be the source, and its elders the ministry from whence the fullness of the Scriptures should go forth to all men, hence it is the Lord's church, and its elders are the Lord's elders.
March 1, 1868, found me at home near Sandwich, Illinois. I had now been engaged for nine years continuously in the missionary field, and I concluded to engage in secular business pursuits in order to the better look after the interest of my family, which now consisted of seven persons, and also to repair my temporal concerns, and I began making arrangements in that direction. But, as will be seen later on, the adage, "Man proposes, but God disposes," was found true in my case. During March I preached the word in the branch at Amboy, also at Earlville, Sandwich, and Batavia. By request of the citizens of Earlville, where I had formerly been engaged in produce dealing, I gave my reasons in a public address for being a Latter Day Saint. Other ministers had been invited to give in this manner their reason for the religious hopes they respectively entertained. The opera hall, in which the addresses were delivered, was filled upon these different occasions with eager listeners, many of whom were critics on doctrine, thus making these occasions both instructive and entertaining.
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The results of this effort proved excellent, as we afterward learned.
General Conference convened April 6, at Plano. In a council of the First Presidency and Twelve during this conference, it was appointed that "Elders W. W. Blair and A. H. Smith take charge of and labor in the Utah and California missions." This appointment was confirmed by the conference. A few days prior to this I saw myself in a distant land, laboring where there were peoples of all colors and nationalities, notably Chinese, Mexicans, and Islanders, and I was given to understand that there was my mission field. Being thus prepared in a measure, I accepted the mission, and after arranging my home affairs as best I could with the limited means at my command (here came a sharp trial of faith), the church treasury being so low that I could receive from the Bishop for both myself and family but fifty dollars, I set out the first part of May to make my way to San Francisco, California, by the way of New York and thence by steamer via the Isthmus of Panama to the Golden Gate. This was largely a work of faith, for to make the trip it then required, as was supposed, between two hundred and fifty dollars and three hundred dollars to reach San Francisco. Just how I was to succeed I did not know, but I had confidence that under the over-ruling hand of God I would reach my destination in due time, and so I went, Brother Elijah Banta accompanying me, preaching by the way. We called and labored at Brookfield, Ohio, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and a few other points in Pennsylvania;
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and on June 5 at half past twelve we took the steamer Santiago De Cuba at pier number forty-six, New York, and started out to sea at once. Before we bought our tickets a new line of steamers had been put upon the route between New York and San Francisco and rates were reduced so that we secured passage for eighty-five dollars each.
The Saints and friends had aided me liberally at the points before mentioned, so that after I had purchased my ticket and made numerous purchases of things likely to be needed in a month's trip at sea, I had more money remaining than I received from the Bishop.
The trip between New York and Aspinwall was stormy and rough in the main. Brother Banta was taken with seasickness immediately we struck the sea outside of New York, and continued so until the morning of the third day out. On the night of the 8th we passed the island of San Salvador, the first land discovered by Columbus in 1492. Rockets were exchanged by our steamer and the lighthouse on the island, giving an interest to the scenery on that beautiful starry night. On the morning of the 10th we passed the eastern point of Cuba. That part of the island had a wild, desolate appearance. The sea was as smooth as a mirror, and as beautiful as a quiet day, a cloudless sky, and the blazing sunlight could make it. Just at nightfall we passed the western extremities of San Domingo and soon after encountered rough seas which continued until long after we passed the island of Jamaica on the right,
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whose mountains lifted their peaks, in places, far above the lowering clouds.
On the 12th a strong easterly wind prevailed and the ship rolled and pitched heavily. The storm increased until the sea was wild and tumultuous, tossing its waves at times clear across our vessel, and before night came on not a person, except the officers or the crew, was seen on deck save Brother Banta and myself. We felt desirous of witnessing a storm at sea, and though the night was on, we sought permission of the officers and obtained the privilege of going onto the upper deck, which we did by clinging to the ropes until we reached the leeward side of the pilot-house, where we remained for an hour or more, wet by the dashing spray, and witnessed the wild, furious tossing of the waves, the blinding flashes of lightning accompanied by deafening peals of thunder, until our curiosity and love of the sublime and the awful were thoroughly satisfied.
When the storm was at its worst it was rumored that the vessel was heavily loaded with iron rails in the hold and that the extreme tossings of the vessel had displaced them, throwing them toward the bow and leeward side of the ship and that we were momentarily in danger of going to the bottom of the sea. These tidings, with the howling of the storm and the almost deathlike quiet that reigned, aside from the calls and answers of the seamen, filled many a heart with doubtings and dismay, and had I not, before leaving home, seen myself engaged in mission work in what I understood to be California,
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doubtless I, too, would have feared greatly. But as it was, our trust was in God, and we at least exhibited no fear, and thereby attracted the attention of some, and among them a Canadian Methodist man who sought our acquaintance and company soon after we went on shipboard, but who soon afterward was found drinking and gambling with great abandon. When the evil rumors were rife, he sought us out and professed to be very religious again and forced a talk on religious matters. We feared his repentance was not genuine, and a few days afterward he "returned like a dog to his vomit" and we had no more of his company. Such is one of the dark, pitiable sides of life.
On Sunday, the 14th, we reached Aspinwall, a small place inhabited chiefly by blacks, with a few French, Dutch, and English, glad to place our feet again on solid ground. Here we saw the rain literally come down in streams , not a breath of air stirring, and the atmosphere as warm as that of a hothouse. We crossed over to Panama by railway, forty-seven miles, through settlements principally of Jamaica negroes, dwelling together in a state of semi-nudity which put to blush the most callous-hearted. At about half past eleven we proceeded by small steamer to the splendid ship Oregonian anchored out in the bay. At that time Panama seemed an old town; its streets were narrow and its population numbered about two thousand.
Just at dark we weighed anchor and stood out into the great Pacific sea. The night was beautiful; the stars shone out brilliantly and seemed twice as
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numerous as we had ever seen before. The days passed rapidly away as we steamed along the coast, first touching at Acapulco, on the 20th. On Sunday, the 21st, at about ten o'clock our attention was called by the captain to a lofty range of mountains, said to be about one hundred miles distant, one peak of which towered high above the clouds that seemed resting quietly in huge masses below. About noon we reached Manzanilla, a small Mexican port, said to be fifteen hundred and fifty miles from San Francisco. Here we saw the very finest pineapples and bananas. Before entering the harbor the captain had requested Brother Banta or myself to read Episcopal service at half past ten. This we declined to do, for we were not acquainted with that style of service, and then we did not propose to number ourselves with that class who "draw near to God with their lips, while their hearts are removed far from him." The captain, nevertheless, read the appointed service for that day as was required by the rules of his company, and after going on deck it was but a short time before we heard him cursing and swearing in a furious manner, threatening to put certain disorderly parties in chains until they reached San Francisco.
The night of the 22d we struck the trade-wind, damp and chilling, from the northwest. At about seven o'clock on the morning of the 23d we passed the point of land lying west of the Gulf of California. The coast at this point is rocky, sandy, and barren, with no traces of timber visible.
On the morning of the 25th the sky was clear,
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the atmosphere very bracing, the sea smooth and clear as glass, so that we could see hosts of porpoise and other species of the finny tribe, and occasionally a whale would lift itself near us plainly into sight and spout streams of water high up in the air. At six o'clock we were off the Island of Clementina. Here we saw six or eight whales, two of them quite near the ship, not over sixty or eighty feet away. Just at nightfall we passed the Island of St. Catalina.
The morning of the 27th we passed Point Conception, about two hundred and twenty miles from San Francisco, and on the morning of the 28th, after a splendid passage of twelve days from Panama, our stately vessel, like a thing of life, rounded in at the Golden Gate and steamed up the bay, reaching San Francisco at nine in the morning, when with hearts filled with gratitude to Cod for our safe and enjoyable passage from our home in Sandwich round about by sea to the western metropolis of our nation, we quit the steamer and with hopeful hearts sought the hospitable home of Brother and Sister Thomas J. Andrews, where we were received with most Christian cordiality by our brother and sister and a few friends who were in waiting for us, they having learned by letters overland that we would reach the city about that date.
Immediately we set about our Master's work, for, we attended sacrament and social-service at three o'clock and in the evening preached to an attentive and appreciative congregation. The kindness of the
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Saints and friends we here met on the western shores of our continent, in a far away and strange land, gave us keener relish for those courtesies and manifestations of Christian love which bind together the hearts of God's faithful people.
Here I began to see the fulfillment of the vision given me at home just before conference concerning our mission field in the midst of a people apparently from among all nations.
We found the work in this western mission in a somewhat divided and lukewarm condition, and after canvassing affairs so far as we could in a preliminary way proceeded to call priesthood meetings to make further inquiries, also to advise and instruct relative to church government. On the tenth and eleventh days of July Brother Banta attended district conference at Petaluma, and by patient effort, aided by Brethren Oman, Adamson, and others, the affairs of the district were placed in a united and prosperous condition. On the same date Brethren Thomas Dungan, Hervey Green, and myself attended an excellent district conference at Watsonville, and were made the guests of Brother and Sister George Adams. The business of the conference passed off to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, a few were baptized and confirmed, the Spirit of the Lord blessed the services richly, and joy and gladness reigned in the hearts of the Saints. Continuing our meetings nightly, on the 14th I baptized Norman S. Moses and his daughter and son. We continued services nightly at this place till the 20th, having excellent congregations,
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the people attending in goodly numbers, and many were deeply interested. On the 21st went to Santa Cruz, held two services and baptized and confirmed Ambrose T. Moses. On the 24th Brother Green and I, with Brother Thomas Dungan, went to Brother William Hopkins', near Washington Corners. Here we met Brother Banta, and together we held a series of interesting and profitable meetings. August 2 I baptized three persons. On the 6th Brother Banta and I went to Petaluma and entered upon our work in that vicinity, arranging fields of labor for the various elders in that district, and preaching nightly with fair success.
The 20th found me at Sacramento. Here I found the heretical teachings of George P. Dykes had caused us no little luke-warmness and division. By his cunning craftiness and large experience in matters of religion he had sown the seeds of evil so far as he had opportunity. Aided by the faithful ministry and membership we soon got matters so adjusted that our meetings were largely attended and the Spirit of the Lord cheered the Saints. September 1 we administered to Miss Mary, daughter of Brother William O. and Sister Julia R. Clark.
In answer to urgent calls from the Saints in Nevada, I visited Carson City the 3d, and on the 4th set out with Brother E. C. Brand, on horseback, visiting many of the Saints and friends in Carson Valley and high up in the foot-hills, Brother Brand and I lodging one night in a place similar to that in which our blessed Lord was born. The trip was interesting and successful, though somewhat trying
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and painful at times; for I was not accustomed to riding a fractious, badly broken "broncho." I preached at the schoolhouse in Jack's Valley at eleven a. m. on Sunday, the 6th, trying at first to speak on the kingdom of God, but the Spirit was taken from me gradually until I had to stop. I then began to preach on the righteousness of God as contained in the written word, showing its binding force on the Saints, and in this was greatly blessed of the Spirit. I afterwards learned that the Saints in that branch needed teaching on the latter subject rather than on the former, and some of the Saints appreciated the situation and afterwards remarked that the sermon was just what was needed.
On the 12th district conference convened in Carson City, where I was made the guest of Brother and Sister Thomas Millard. Our labors were blest both at Jack's Valley and Carson City, resulting in effecting unity, reviving interest, and in the baptism of a goodly number of persons. Here we first met Brethren Emanuel Penrod, A. B. Johns, D. E. Jones, and their families, all of whom were helpers in the work. Labored with success also at Genoa, Mottsville, and Fairview, baptizing some. Sister Gilman, of Genoa, and Sister Mott, of Mottsville, were notably good helpers in the Lord's work and were worthy. On the 21st began meetings n Franktown; was the guest of Brother John Twaddle and family. Our services were largely attended by interested listeners, and some who had been leading wretched lives in, the past, addicted to intemperance, gambling, and the like, were converted and
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became orderly and devoted members of the church. While in this vicinity we held services in Pleasant Valley and were the guests of Brother Stephen Wood. In all our labors in this vicinity we were greatly sustained by the Holy Spirit, and a number of additions were made to the church.
October 6 I attended conference in Meriam's Hall, San Francisco, which continued until the 9th, and passed off pleasantly and profitably, unity and godly zeal predominating very largely.
At our prayer-meeting on the 15th at the residence of Brother T. J. Andrews, it was revealed through the Spirit that the Lord's work in the California and Utah Districts would be revived and make very considerable headway from that time forward. This was fulfilled in due time as many souls can testify. On the 16th I went to Washington Corners, where Brethren Thomas Dungan, Hervey Green, and myself conducted a series of profitable meetings.
On the morning of the 21st, about nine o'clock, when Brethren Dungan, Green, and myself were calling on Brother Glaud Rodger and family, sudden and repeated shocks of earthquake came with a loud, rumbling sound, the house lurching ominously from north to south and with such violence as to throw Brother Green, Sister Rodger, and some of the children prostrate upon the floor, tossing chairs, tables, bedsteads, etc., about in wild confusion, filling all hearts with terror. When first it came, I thought an explosion had occurred, but at the second thought concluded it was an earthquake and
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thereupon offered a silent, fervent prayer, and instantly felt the Holy Spirit speaking peace to my heart and imparting perfect confidence in God. Sister Rodger, in her tender solicitude for her children, screamed aloud. We sought as best we could to encourage her to trust in the Lord, assuring her God certainly would care for us and for her children.
The first vibrations lasted nearly thirty seconds and shortly afterwards were followed by others. Chimneys were shaken down, also some buildings, including the Catholic church at the old mission, were thrown down; and all through the country and especially in San Francisco and other cities in the regions around, there was great consternation; much damage was done, with some loss of life.
On the 28th I baptized William Hopkins and his wife Elizabeth, also John Joyce and Charlotte, his wife. Thursday, the 29th, found Brother Glaud Rodger and myself at Santa Cruz. We remained here visiting and preaching as opportunity offered. On Sunday, the 8th, I preached in the Unity Chapel in the city, at two and at half past six. In a night vision I had seen the chapel, came to its open doorway, heard people engaged in religious services, strove in vain to look within and see what was going on, but all within seemed the blackness of darkness. As I looked a feeling of horror came over me, and the thought came forcibly to my mind that what I had seen was not a dream, but divine reality. I afterwards learned that this vision signified that inasmuch as the Unitarians deny the
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divinity and deity of Christ, they have not the light of Christ, but are in gross darkness on that point.
On the eleventh day of November I baptized Moses M. Meder and Sarah, his wife, also Misses Jane, Emma, and Ella, their granddaughters, and Brother Rodger and I confirmed them in the evening at Brother Meder's residence. Here I first met Francis M. Sheehy, and at this time the Lord touched his heart and brain with the power of gospel truth, but it was not until some time afterward that he felt prepared to abandon Catholicism and unite with the Latter Day Saints.
During the winter of 1868 and 1869, I devoted considerable time in writing for the Herald, partly for reason that rainy weather interfered with ministerial labor, but more especially because I was prompted thereto by the Holy Spirit.
George P. Dykes and his sympathizers worked with great craftiness and energy to destroy the Reorganized Church in the Pacific Mission, but was exposed and his errors refuted to the satisfaction of all who loved the truth and the right supreme. The Lord revealed by vision, prophecy, tongues, and otherwise, to many of the worthy Saints, the character, doings, and fate of this cunning adversary, so that in all parts where he had obtained damaging influence, the Lord exposed the evils of this man and brought him to merited shame and reproach. This was the Lord's doings and justifies him where he says, "Leave judgment alone with me, for vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord of hosts."
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At Sacramento, Stockton, Washington Corners, Watsonville, Petaluma, San Bernardino, and other points, the Lord confirmed his work with signs following, bestowing upon the faithful Saints the gifts of healing, prophecy, tongues and interpretations, tilling their hearts with assurance and holy joy. Spiritualism had become very thoroughly established throughout California and was making fearful inroads among the sectarian churches. Many who had been connected with Utah Mormonism became ensnared by it, and became infidels to the Christian religion, ancient and modern, and some of these fell into habits of gross impurity and immorality, and nowhere was this more noticeable than in Southern California. It would appear that having known the truth, then having been blinded and bewildered and finally disgusted with Brighamism, they fell an easy prey to the seductive wiles and boastful, miraculous pretensions of spiritualism.
From the eighth day of February to March 24, 1869, I labored in and about San Bernardino with most excellent success, baptizing many, and ordaining a number of worthy men to various offices in the church. While there I preached upon the latter day apostasy, the need and promise of a reorganization of the church, pointing out the prophecies relating to those very essential matters and bearing testimony to the divinity of the work of the Reorganized Church.
Among my hearers was a Brother John Garner, who had a long time been a member of the former organization and who still held to the thought and
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hope that the Utah Mormon church was the church of Christ and still accepted of God. On his invitation I visited him at his home, conversed with him and his family freely on these topics, and he at length told me a singular and very instructive vision he had some years before but had not understood until of late. In the vision he saw that he and others were seeking to ascend to heaven by means of what was called a "liberty pole, or ladder," and that when they had reached a high point in their ascent, some one above him shouted aloud to stop, for the pole or ladder was discovered to be rotten and weak, endangering those seeking to go higher upon it. Upon this they regretfully returned down to the ground, went out a short distance, stood and scanned the ladder and sorrowed because it had failed them in their efforts. Immediately after that he heard a voice, not far away, calling him and others, saying there was now another ladder by which to ascend to heaven, that it was new and strong and sound. To this call they finally yielded and went, and, upon examination accepted it for what it was proposed, and immediately proceeded to ascend thereon until they reached a point where they saw Joseph the Seer and Hyrum the Patriarch reach down and grasp them by the hand, lifting them up upon the plane whereon they stood. From this point he looked out as far as the eye could reach upon a scene, wide and extended, and of enchanting beauty, where they met and greeted many of the loved ones that had gone before. "Now," says Brother Garner, "you, Brother Blair, are the very
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man I heard and saw in that vision calling me and others to ascend to heaven by the means prepared, and I, therefore, and my wife and some of my children are ready for baptism." Soon after this I baptized him and a number of his family, with many others, all of whom became members of the San Bernardino Branch.
April 6 our mission conference convened in the senate chamber in Sacramento and was fairly well attended. George P. Dykes, by word and deed, aided by a few he had misled, did all in his power to deceive and confuse the Saints and destroy their faith in the Reorganized Church. But the Lord was again our helper. We challenged him to meet us in discussion in public during the conference, and sent the challenge by Brethren Gillen and Potter, Clapp and Banta, and while they went to seek him I remained at Sister Rohrer's and was shown of tile Lord that he would evade and utterly decline discussion. I felt sorely troubled over the situation of affairs and of course made it a subject of special prayer, and in a night vision heard a voice out of heaven saying, "I will be thy defense for thirty-one days." With this came the comforting influence of the Spirit of the Lord, and my heart had rest. The conference resulted well every way, and the work of the Lord spread abroad with success.
On the fifth day of April, I received a letter from Sister E. C. Brand, Carson City, Nevada, stating that her husband was lying at the point of death with a most severe attack of small-pox; that physicians and nurses gave no encouragement as to
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his recovery, and he asked that we lay the matter before conference and ask the prayers of the Saints in his behalf. The evening of the 5th we held a council at Brother Richardson's and all united in prayer, asking the Lord to restore Brother Brand to health and a life of usefulness in the ministry, and on the morning of the 7th I received a telegram from Carson City, dictated by Brother Brand, saying, "Thank God, I am healed. Send me where you will." He came to Sacramento not many days after and entered actively again on mission work.
On the 18th we held branch meeting in the senate chamber to regulate and set in order the affairs of the Sacramento Branch. An Elder Mitchell assumed to undertake to regulate branch matters by virtue of his ministerial authority and superior wisdom. I objected to this, setting forth the fact that, according to the order of God, certain men had been chosen and set apart for that work, namely, presidents of districts and presidents of missions, and that even these were not to interfere in branch matters unless needed and invited by either the officers or a majority of the membership of such branches. By vote of the members present, I took the chair and proceeded to regulate such matters as were needed, and this resulted in bringing order, unity, and prosperity to the branch. I then proceeded to labor some at Liberty, Sacramento, Stockton, Somersville, in all of which places additions to the church were made. We met with success in our labors at San Jose, San Juan, and so passed on to Watsonville and Santa Cruz and
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learned, July 9, that Sister Lydia Moses, whom elders had administered to for a severe case of lung and liver complaint of long standing, had entirely recovered, also that Sister Jane Hart, to whom they administered for deafness, had likewise recovered; also that Sister Margaret Moses had entirely recovered from certain chronic afflictions by administration of anointing and prayer, and by careful observance of the Word of Wisdom.
On the twenty-sixth day of July, when in Sacramento, I replied to a malicious and vexatious article in the Bee from the pen of George P. Dykes. Sunday, friends and helpers, assaulted me at the close of the afternoon service in the senate chamber, brandishing the butt of his whip about my head in a violent manner, when he was seized by Brethren Anderson and Richardson and threatened by them with severe treatment, from which he was saved by my interposition, begging them and warning them to do him no harm, but to render him good f or the evil he designed, saying that I was aware he was blindly actuated by the evil counsels of George P. Dykes.
From this time forward the church in California and Nevada made rapid progress. Brethren J. W. Gillen, J. C. Clapp, E. C. Brand, Hervey Green, and others did excellent work, as was seen in the fruits that. followed.
About the twenty-fifth day of November I reached Malad City, Idaho, where I met Brethren Alexander H. and David H. Smith; attended district conference
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and remained laboring in that region until in the month of December. While here David H. Smith (in the absence of the other elders, they being at Samaria), upon request of Morgan Jones and wife, administered to their little two-year-old boy supposed to be dying of stone in the bladder, and he was relieved of a stone as large as a watermelon seed while David's hands were still upon him. Considerable additions were made to the church in this region, and stability and unity abounded.
From Malad I went to Salt Lake City, where Alexander and David had been prosecuting successful labors, aided heartily by Brother E. C. Brand and others, many attending their meetings and scores being baptized. The Brighamites did everything in their power, apparently, to hinder the efforts of these sons of Joseph the Seer, and their fellow laborers; but success had attended them. The Lord blessed their labors with signs following them that believed. A Mr. Rasmussen, who had been a Brighamite for many years, was prevailed upon to attend their services and at length united with the church and was baptized by David H. Smith. When he was confirmed he was told he should receive his health and be blessed of the Lord. This was an important statement from the fact that during over fourteen years he had been strangely afflicted, for at times he would be bound and prostrated with convulsions, and this he had suffered to such an extent that his nerves were unsettled and his flesh had fallen off until he was a mere skeleton. Upon a number of occasions, when a Brighamite,
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he had been seized and prostrated publicly in this strange manner, and had been forbidden to attend their meetings because of the excitement resulting from these attacks, and he had even been threatened with arrest by the police if he did not desist. But from the time he was confirmed and administered to by David and his brethren he never had, while he remained in Utah, any further affliction, but regained his health from the first, and increased his flesh until he became completely restored. In the meantime he received the gift of tongues and of prophecy in a very notable degree, and, as he often said in testimony-meetings and elsewhere, he was "a living miracle."
Utah Mormonism was now coming rapidly to judgment. Its strange doctrines and peculiar practices were being sharply discussed, and it was confronted not only with the Reorganized Church but with a body of dissenters eventually called Godbeites. Prominent r epresentatives of the Government, such as Vice-president Colfax and party, also, were criticizing Brighamism and cross-questioning its leaders, much to the annoyance and discomfiture of the latter.
Godbeism (a sort of hybridism, being part spiritualism and part Mormonism), during the winter of 1869 and 1870, became organized, and with such men as William S. Godbe, Henry W. Lawrence, E. L. T. Harrison, Eli B. Kelsey, and William H. Shearman to lead it forward, it became a dangerous menace to Brighamism. Strife and bitterness abounded. Brighamism was the persecutor, and
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Godbeism and everything else in the way of Brigham Young and his fellows was persecuted. Dangers and hindrances were thick on every hand to those who dared call in question the doctrines and doings of Brigham and his fellows, and perhaps no winter was ever seen in Utah when the very foundation of Brighamism was so laid bare and broken up as that of 1869 and 1870. In those times we were shown that God had laid the ax at root of the Brighamite tree, and though good work had been done before, more decisive work would follow in the near future and that notable system of evil would be hewn down, also that the chief men of the Godbeite movement would be mixed up with it in some measure and be affected by its overthrow.
On parting with the Saints prior to starting home to Illinois, in our last service in Independence Hall, I stated by constraint of the Spirit to the packed assembly present that the time was near at hand when the fear and the dread that had been upon the people would be taken from them and be put upon their oppressing leaders, also that civil and religious liberty would yet come to Utah and abound throughout all her borders. During these times and for two years after, we sent many carloads of people away to the East, procuring cheap fares for them. Others, profiting by our teachings, broke away from Brighamism and fled to Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California, Oregon, and other localities east and west, many of whom have since united with the Reorganized Church.
I returned home the latter part of March to attend
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conference. President Joseph Smith and the conference of April, 1870, appointed me to take charge of the Utah and Pacific Slope Mission, Brother A. H. Smith to be associated with me.
In answer to urgent requests from John, James, and David Scott, and others, at Scottsville, Indiana, I made them a visit in May and June, preaching the word there and in that vicinity, holding a discussion at Mt. Eden with Elder Vardaman Scott of the Campbellite Church on the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. A report of my labors at that time is in the Herald for July 15, 1870, page 436. The Lord stood by in defending the mission of the Seer, giving great liberty and spiritual power in my labors, both there and at Galien, Michigan, and, by his blessing we baptized thirty-three in all during the month of June, and organized two branches.
During my labors in Southern Indiana I was bitterly opposed, especially by sectarian ministers who agreed among themselves long enough to array all their talent and skill to overthrow what they called "Mormonism"; and the people, blinded and excited by their misstatements, slanders, and craftiness, seemed ready to do me violence and drive me away (even some women threatened it); but humbly trusting in God, dealing gently and patiently with an persons, God gave his work the victory.
I held a three-day discussion with Elder Vardaman Scott, forced upon me by other ministers with himself, in which it was demanded that I affirm:
1. That Joseph Smith was a prophet sent of God.
2. That the church organized April 6, 1830, by
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Joseph Smith and others, was and is the only divinely organized church of God on earth.
3. That the Book of Mormon is of divine origin.
We protested that this arrangement was altogether unfair, but as we could get nothing better I accepted it, for I was anxious to get the facts touching those propositions before the people, even though I had to do so at a great disadvantage. Excitement ran high, the church and its surroundings where we held the debate were crowded with people eager to see and hear; all the sectarian ministers in that place or near by were on hand, and the few friends I had feared lest I become overawed and vanquished. One of them met me early the morning of the second day of the discussion and expressed his fears that I would be borne down by the great odds arrayed against me, saying that on that day there would be a concentration of all their forces to overwhelm me with defeat. I replied that I feared nothing but my own infirmities and lack of qualification, that I knew I had the truth of God and that all the powers outside of his kingdom could not resist that truth when faithfully and wisely presented. I furthermore told him (M. R. Scott) that God would manifest the truth of the proposition I was affirming that day, for he had shown me in a vision that. my opponent would be as feeble as a child in my hands, and that I had seen him helpless in my grasp, prostrate on the ground, while I smote him at my will with a two-edged sword, punishing him severely, but carefully seeking to spare his life.
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And so it proved to be; for in the presence of that vast audience God gave us, by his Spirit, a signal victory in favor of his truth, so that at the close of the discussion that second afternoon, Elder Scott publicly declined to hold further discussion, though we had not yet finished the proposition, "Was Joseph Smith a prophet sent of God?" I demanded that inasmuch as he and his friends had forced the discussion upon me and had all the advantages arising from the unfair form and statement of the propositions, he must stand to the work and take his chances as I had to do. This he persistently declined to do. But at the close of the services a crowd of his fellow opposers took him to the rear of the church and there prevailed upon him to change his methods (which had thus far been manly) and "go for him!" It was therefore arranged to continue the contest. But when service time arrived next day not one half of the former congregation were in attendance.
Elder Scott did change his manner of discussion in some measure, for he now relied largely on Anti-mormon perspective stories instead of biblical and historical facts. Short work was made in disproving his slanderous statements, while we devoted the chief of the time pouring in, with all the power and light the Lord gave us, the true doctrine and historical facts touching the "marvelous work and a wonder" our Lord had called us to advocate and defend.
This man afterward came into the church, but he had been stricken with paralysis and did not long survive.
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On the seventh day of July I started for the Pacific mission field, and labored in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska until the 19th with excellent success, and from the 21st engaged actively in prosecuting mission work throughout the Rocky Mountain region. In all our labors in the various parts of Utah and Idaho, we had to contend with and deplored the blinding effects of the servile bondage caused by the secret endowments forced upon the Utah Mormons, consisting of secret covenants, oaths, passwords, signs, grips, and robbings, etc., constraining us to believe that it was and is a modern plan of ancient Gadiantonism and a base corruption of Free Masonry. The masses of the people bound together by these, it was difficult to engage their attention and get them to freely and candidly investigate our teachings.
Governor Shaffer and other Government officials treated Brother Brand and myself with marked consideration and assured us that the power of the Government would be asserted if needed to protect us in our rights as American citizens. As time passed on we perceived that the Utah Mormon leaders and their sympathizers did everything in their power to hedge up our way, hinder our work, and prejudice the people against us.
On the tenth day of August Brother Brand and I, on their solicitation, had an interview with Reverend J. P. Newman and Doctor Sutherland
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relative to a proposed discussion between Orson Pratt and Reverend Newman. They sought our opinion as to the best methods by which to prosecute such discussion, and we replied that, inasmuch as they were confined to the Bible as the rule of evidence, it would be essential to assume, 1. That God in the beginning, in the creation of Adam and Eve, revealed his will that monogamy and not polygamy was heaven's plan in. respect to marriage. 2. That though the patriarchs, after the flood, practiced plural marriage, it was not by the commandment of God, but was contrary to his will as manifest in the putting away of Hagar by Abraham, which was done by direct commandment of the Lord. 3. That God suffered plurality of wives in the midst of his people under the Mosaic covenant because of the hardness of their hearts, as he did divorce, retaliation, and the like, at the same time manifesting his displeasure against it. 4. That when Christ, the perfect teacher of perfect truth, came and introduced the full light of God's will, he reaffirmed the will of God in the beginning, and taught that the having of two living wives at the same time constituted adultery. 5. That all the New Testament teachings were in favor of monogamy and strictly against polygamy. These, in substance, were our views, and we claimed that if they were maintained by the abundant proofs in the Bible the discussion would prove that the Bible did not sanction but condemned polygamy.
Mr. Newman did well in the discussion that followed until he and Mr. Pratt entered upon a learned
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contest as to the meaning of the Hebrew original of Leviticus 18:18. Almost an entire day was frittered away by Mr. Newman in attempting to prove that the original for sister in the text meant wife; but Orson Pratt proved himself the better Hebrew scholar, that Mr. Newman's rendering was wrong, and he therefore obtained the mastery on that point. This was a serious setback to Mr. Newman, yet many of the points he made were so valuable and weighty that this gain of Mr. Pratt counted but little in the final issue.
Mr. Newman, as an orator, was far superior to Mr. Pratt; but the latter, as a logician, was much the superior of Mr. Newman. The discussion, with the honest, liberal, and intelligent thinkers, was very damaging to polygamy. One of the best, if not the very best, of all the points made by Doctor Newman was when he declared, as if by inspiration, that, while polygamy might do for monarchs who founded empires, and for princes who conquered kingdoms, and for priests who supported themselves in affluence by the money wrung from their people, it would not do for the poor man (who specially needed the favors and blessings of God), for he could barely support his one wife and little family; that polygamy increased and added burdens; but that the gospel of Jesus Christ lessened and lightened them; therefore, polygamy could not be of God.
On the 23d I went with Brother E. C. Brand to Corinne, whose citizens were anxious to have the Reorganized Church make that place and vicinity
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one of their strongholds, and there were some inducements, in a financial way, presented us in favor of it. But we declined to entertain anything favorable to it, and so passed on to Malad City, laboring there until September 5.
During the month of September we bestowed considerable labor in and about Ogden and on Weber River as far up as Echo City, meeting with much secret opposition, yet reaping valuable fruits for our labors.
On the 25th, at two o'clock, I preached in Independence Hall, Salt Lake City, and set forth the fact that the Spirit had revealed to us the downfall of Brighamism at an early day.
When in Providence, near Logan, in Cache Valley, so bitter were some of the Brighamites against us that they brazenly pelted the house with rocks where we were holding service, and at night stole a bur from our wagon, and when we started to leave in the morning one fore wheel ran off, causing anxiety and delay. But following the special promptings given us at the moment, we went to the little creek near by and at once saw in the midst of the crinkle grass the lost bur, and then we fixed up and proceeded on our way.
I spent the winter of 1870-71 chiefly in Salt Lake City and Ogden, but devoted considerable time in preaching the word in Idaho, Cache Valley, and on the Weber River, meeting with considerable success. Brethren E. C. Brand, J. W. Chatburn, Alexander McCord, and Samuel Wood rendered valuable
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aid at many of these points and elsewhere, and we gathered out many people.
January 31, 1871, I started for Battle Mountain and Austin, Nevada. Labored at these points, mainly at Austin, until the 22d, and a considerable number were added to the church.
I reached Carson, Nevada, on February 24. Preached there and at Genoa, Mottsville, and Franktown up to March 29, and baptized a number. Spiritualism and infidelity were the chief obstacles we found in the way of progress.
The thirtieth day of March found us in Sacramento. -- Our conference for the mission convened April 6 at Washington Corners, and we had a very excellent season. The reports of the mission field were mostly encouraging.
I visited San Bernardino early in May, attended district conference on the 13th, and found that church interests were doing well in all that region. Spiritualism in these parts was putting on a very aggressive front, and on the 19th, by requests of numerous citizens, preached at half past seven, giving our views as to its origin, life forces, and as to its future work. While here the church received considerable accessions, and we found that the Saints were progressing in knowledge, and in influence with their neighbors, also in the gifts and graces of the gospel.
May 28, we began preaching in Watsonville and continued to labor there and at Santa Cruz until the seventh day of June, adding some to the membership of the branch at Watsonville. We then proceeded
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to San Francisco on the 7th, and preached the word there and at Washington Corners, Livermore Valley, and on the 25th baptized three at Washington Corners. At Stockton, July 1, two were added to the church, and on the 12th started to Franktown, Nevada.
During my labors this trip in California the Spirit of the Lord comforted me greatly and confirmed the work.
I spent twenty days in Washoe and Carson Valleys, meeting with fair success and adding five persons to the church by baptism.
August 8 found me in Salt Lake City. I continued my labors here and at other points in Utah until the sixteenth day of September and then went East and attended the semiannual conference at Park's Mills, near Council Bluffs, which convened the 20th, and from there proceeded home.
During the fall and early winter, my time was devoted in preaching throughout Northern and Central Illinois.
December 21, I began a series of meetings in Deloit and Denison, in Western Iowa, and was universally greeted with large and attentive congregations. I have sought to confine my efforts to the essential topics touching the plan of salvation, man's duty to God and his fellow men, the fulfillment of prophecy, and bearing testimony to the divinity of the Christian religion and the Reorganized Church of Christ. I was deeply impressed then, as I had been before, and have been since, that the world's great need is the religion of Jesus
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Christ precisely as taught by himself and his disciples, with all its spiritual graces and gifts and powers and promises and assurances of the Holy Spirit as set forth in holy writ. Special pains were taken to teach and illustrate the soul's personal identity, its accountability to God, and its conscious existence after death. At Galland's Grove, Little Sioux, Council Bluffs, Omaha, Crescent City, Plum Hollow, Nebraska City, and Manti, we labored with much satisfaction and excellent fruits until the twenty-ninth day of March, 1872. Considerable additions to the church were made.
I attended the General Conference, April 6, which convened in St. Louis, Missouri. Labored in St. Louis, Cheltenham, and Gravois, Missouri, also at Alton and Bloomington, Illinois, reaching home the latter part of April.
May 6, in a council composed of President Joseph Smith and Bishop I. L. Rogers, also Josiah Ells, E. C. Briggs, and W. W. Blair of the Twelve. Among other things, it was resolved: "That we consider it to be wrong, and tending to heresy, to teach, preach, or write against the avowed doctrine and order of the church, -- the general conferences and high councils being the proper places in which to discuss and determine these matters." This action grew out of the reckless and antagonistic writings and teachings of some who assumed to be wiser than Joseph the Seer and the church councils and conferences in his time, or the church and its councils at the present. But this was not intended
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to either suppress or discourage legitimate, orderly discussion.
We visited and preached in Kewanee, Canton, St. David, Breed's Station, Amboy, Rochelle, Paw Paw, Streator, and Piper City, in Northern Illinois, up to July 10.
On the seventeenth day of June, on invitation, I met with the Board of Publication, at Plano. On that date, pursuant to previous arrangement, the the board took possession of the Herald Office and the property pertaining thereto, and assumed control of the publishing interests of the church.
From July 12 to September 2 I preached the word in New Providence, Scottsville, Marietta, and other points in Indiana, which resulted in adding numbers to the church. Elders Goss, Mathes, and Treat figured to get up a discussion with us while in Scottsville, but for reasons known to themselves they failed to accept our propositions.
During October and November visited Princeville, Buffalo Prairie, Millersburg, and a few other points near them, set in order some branch affairs, and baptized a few.
Our conference in Kewanee, December 6 to 8, proved an excellent one. My diary minutes say, "The entire session of conference was greatly blessed by unity, peace, and the presence of the Holy Spirit." Remaining a short time, I then proceeded to Happy Hollow, Iowa, December 11, where Brother and Sister Adam Fletcher had aroused a spirit of investigation, and after preaching a few
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sermons there to fairly attentive listeners, proceeded to near Leon, Iowa, where I held a series of meetings in the Jennings' Schoolhouse, some of my hearers afterward uniting with the church.
The epizooty had smitten the horses at this time throughout all the West, and when unable to travel by railway we had to make the most of our journeys on foot. The twenty-third day of December found me at Brother William Hopkins', two miles southeast of where Lamoni is now located. The Order of Enoch had located a fine body of land in this region and were actively engaged in improving it. I was highly pleased with the general outlook of affairs and was confident that the Lord would here plant a work from whence would go forth the gospel of Christ to all peoples abroad, for the Lord had given us by night vision and the constraint of his Spirit most encouraging evidences on that point. The country then was very thinly settled on the Iowa side of the state line, and not a few of the inhabitant in that region and round about were bitterly prejudiced against the Latter Day Saints. Some of them said that the Lord, by dreams, had shown them that the Saints would settle there in large numbers, both before and after this time, testified that the Lord, in an open vision, had shown him many years before, when in Washington, D. C., that the Saints would gather in large numbers on either side of the state line west of Pleasanton, and when in that vision he heard the voice of singing from heaven of this verse:
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Zion's children cry aloud:
See their numbers -- how they swell!
How they gather, like a cloud!"
(Hymn 939, Saints' Harp.)
The few Saints located there were dwelling in unity, and the gifts and blessings of the Holy Spirit were richly enjoyed. I preached in and around Pleasanton and then went to St. Joseph, Missouri, where I preached in the court-house to full and attentive congregations, in the meantime setting in order some things needed in branch affairs, resulting in better understanding and needed unity.
The sixteenth day of January, 1873, I began a series of meetings at Lees Summit, near Independence, Missouri, and while here saw myself with others at work cleansing and cleaning up a highway. The part cleared and put in order was beautiful indeed. There was coiled up near the highway a huge serpent, which I smote upon the head with my implements of labor.
On the 27th, by vote of eight members present, I proceeded to organize the Lees Summit Branch. The 30th, I went to Independence. Had quite a lengthy interview with the Hedrickites. They were then very sanguine that they would build up largely in that city and the country adjacent. We held a series of meetings in the German church . Some of the Gentile citizens and some of the Hedrickites sought to make my stay among them agreeable. The time was then drawing nigh when some of the revelations of Granville Hedrick would be tested by the unfaltering, remorseless hand of time. He
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had predicted in 1864 that "the awful calamity of war and famine" would come upon the people of the Northern States, "beginning" in 1871; that at that time the sword would "fall heavily" upon the people, and that famine would quickly follow. This proving false, his pretensions to be a prophet of God should have been rejected by all. But some of his disciples still adhered to his claims, false though his prophecies and promises proved.
I was at Bevier, the fifteenth day of February, where I remained preaching until the 25th, blessed of the Lord, and having fair success. Afterward I labored in Bryant and Canton, Illinois, from March 1 to 18. My efforts there were blessed of God and resulted in the baptism of seven. The Saints were living in unity and enjoying the gifts in a very liberal degree. I also held a few interesting meetings in Kewanee from the 20th to the 27th, and on the 30th attended an excellent fast meeting with the branch in Sandwich.
The annual conference of 1873 met at Plano, April 6, and on the 7th President Joseph Smith placed in my hands a revelation to present to the Quorum of Twelve, part of which was given March 1, and the remainder on April 6, 1873. (See Doctrine and Covenants 117.) By this I was called to be one of the counselors in the First Presidency of the church. I had, not long prior to this, evidence given me of the Lord that I would be called to that position in the church, a position to which Jason W. Briggs would have been called had he been faithful. But of this matter no mention had been made to
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any one, for I was determined that, if the manifestation was of the Lord, which I did not doubt, the matter should be made public by others instead of myself.
Having now become associated with the First Presidency, it devolved upon me to assist President Joseph Smith in arranging and appointing the several missions of the Quorum of the Twelve, which we did on the 12th, suggesting also the missions of some of the seventy. On Sunday, the 13th, the congregations were very large, the church being packed to overflowing. The sermons were excellent, both in the morning and at night. At half past two o'clock, at the social-meeting, the Spirit of the Lord was poured out in power, cheering and confirming the hearts of the Saints. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were enjoyed to a great degree, and it is safe to say that but few services have been held in which there was a greater outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord than on this occasion.
On the 24th the Bishopric met in council with the First Presidency to consider matters pertaining to the financial affairs of the church.
May 3, I went to Canton, Illinois, and from that time until the 14th labored there and at Bryant and St. David, and then proceeded on to St. Louis, preaching there and at Gravois, also at West Belleville, Illinois. In all these places I found lively interest, and we added a few to the church. From the latter place I went to Wayne County, Illinois, to regulate church affairs. Preached in Jeffersonville, Cisne, Brush Creek, and other points, frequently in the
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groves, and generally to large and interested audiences. A few gave heed to the word preached and entered by the door into the fold. In all these places I found many noble, warm-hearted people, both in and out of the church. A branch of the church had been organized in this region in the days of Joseph the Seer and continued until they became identified with the Reorganized Church. This is a matter to be noted by the Saints, and especially by the ministry, for it has been claimed by some that all the organized branches at the death of the Seer followed the Twelve. But this is a mistake, for there were scores of them east and west, north and south, that never fell under the rule of Brigham Young and his fellows.
After spending a few days at Alma, I reached home the twenty-seventh day of June, and July 1 the First Presidency met in council to consider appeals to the High Council, matters relating to the Bishopric and the sending of Alexander H. Smith at once to California. Much of the time during the summer months I traveled and preached at various points in Northern and Central Illinois, also attending upon duties pertaining to the First Presidency.
The semiannual conference convened in the grove at Park's Mills, near Council Bluffs, Iowa, September 3. The attendance was very large. An excursion car conveyed a large number from Plano and Sandwich, Illinois, under the management of Elders Elijah Banta and Bishop I. L. Rogers. This session was a very important one. The number in attendance was variously estimated at from five
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thousand to ten thousand people, probably the former was nearer the correct number. Reports from nearly all the mission fields were encouraging. The clerk of the conference reported through the Herald as follows:
"This conference was the largest ever held by the Reorganized Church. The attendance was large from the beginning; the interest and attention never flagged; there was the profoundest peace, the completest good humor, and most perfect order prevailing ever before observed. The camp was carefully cleansed on Saturday morning; the police, under the management of Brother Thomas Chatburn, devised and quietly enforced admirable and efficient measures to secure peace and good order during the entire session. An adequate conception of the nature and number of the crowds attending conference can not be conveyed by us, but some opinion may be formed by the following: At noon, on Sunday, there were on the grounds four hundred and eighty-one wagons, buggies, and carriages that were stationary, and one hundred and twenty-one that were in motion. There were also one hundred and twelve tents pitched around the stand and the circle inclosing the seats. * * * It is said by those resident there that our conference was the largest religious gathering ever assembled in the West; and by those whose opinion is entitled to consideration it is pronounced to have been the most orderly and peaceful they ever attended. There was but little sickness, and some administrations to those sick were
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followed by immediate relief. So cares the Lord for his people."
I remained laboring throughout Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska, assisted for a time by Brother J. R. Lambert. On the 21st, I began a series of meetings in the court-house at Harlan and continued till the 27th, having large congregations and good interest.
On the 28th, I began a series of meetings at Galland's Grove and had crowded congregations to the close.
On the sixth day of October I went with Elder Thomas Dobson to Camp Creek and Lake City where we remained until the 10th, preaching a series of sermons in the latter place. Here we were attacked in an ungentlemanly manner by a Reverend _____ Birch and his confederate, who sought to disconcert us and break up our meetings. The people resented this, and the editor of the Calhoun County Pioneer told us that Reverend Birch and Reverend McDaniels of the so-called Christian Church, with others, arranged to break up our meetings, but that public sentiment was against them, and the better class of citizens were desirous of learning our faith. This gentleman and other prominent citizens assured us that they and others of that place held the Brethren Dobsons, Masons, and other Latter Day Saints at Deloit and near there, in the highest esteem, for a few years before, when crops were ruined by early frosts, these Latter Day Saints, who chanced to have good stocks of old corn and wheat on hand, furnished the few citizens of Calhoun County
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with breadstuff and seed at moderate prices, giving those who needed it ample time to make payment, and that they were assured by these acts, as well as by common report, that these Saints were practically a worthy people.
The branch of the church at Deloit we found to be growing in numbers, enjoying the peace and gifts of the Holy Spirit, dwelling together in unity, and they were building a nice brick church, and were liberally aided by their neighbors.
Returning to Galland's Grove I began a series of meetings on Sunday, October 12, during which a number were added to the church. The 16th I met Brother J. R. Lambert at Council Bluffs, where we labored until the 19th, when I visited Omaha, and with Brother James Caffall held three services. At the half past two o'clock meeting, when at prayer, I was strongly impressed to ask the Lord to bind and cast out very evil spirit present, and just as. I uttered the words one of the congregation was seized with a power which sought to prostrate him upon the floor, throwing him into spasms and frightful contortions, with groaning and trembling that threw the congregation into a state of consternation, and immediately rising up I exhorted the Saints to composure and quietude, and Brother Caffall, Brother Hatt and myself proceeded to rebuke the evil spirit, and instantly the man was released, quiet was restored, and the services proceeded under the favor of the Lord.
This same man, during the conference at Park's Mills, had a similar spell and was administered to
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by President Joseph Smith and others, and after patient, persistent, and faithful ministration he was relieved; but it was a long and fearful struggle.
The 23d found me at Little Sioux, Iowa, and I there met with an old member of the church, Brother Ira Miles, who resided in Utah. He said Brigham Young was then trying to cheat him out of a lot in Salt Lake City, on First East South Street, worth twenty thousand dollars, one which lie obtained soon after the city was platted. He related that W. W. Phelps, at Far West, Missouri, in 1838 and 1839 placed a stolen side-saddle at Sister Emma Smith's house unknown to her. She told a Brother Watson, when she learned the fact, to return the saddle to Phelps. This act on the part of Phelps created no little scandal and trouble, for Phelps was then in fellowship with apostates and mobbers. Miles also stated that the "school of the prophets" in Utah, about two years before, voted Brigham Young about one million dollars, that being a part of Young's indebtedness to the various funds of the church over which he presided. Miles said lie was in the meeting at the time that was done. He further said Brigham had taught aforetime that young Joseph would preside over the church. He further said that Jesse C. Little told him that he went to Washington, District of Columbia, by instruction of Brigham and his fellows and requested of the Government the privilege of enlisting men for the Mormon Battalion in 1846.
I spent the fall and early part of the winter at various points in Western Iowa, and at White Cloud,
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Kansas; also at St. Joseph, Missouri, with good results; on the eighth day of November I baptized nine. President Joseph Smith came on the 10th, and on the 11th we issued to Elder D. H. Bays a certificate of appointment to the Texas Mission. I then preached a few sermons in Atchison, Kansas, where there was a thriving branch of the church, and then passed on to Cherokee, and labored in that region and in Galesburg and Joplin.
Near the latter place I tarried with Brother Alexander Williams, an eccentric and at one time a noted man in the church. In his talk over experiences in church affairs he related that in a council in Nauvoo soon after the death of Joseph the Seer, Brigham Young said, "We will stick together in a mass and behave ourselves until God speaks to young Joseph." This was said in respect to the anticipated calling of Joseph to the presidency of the church. Brother Williams further said that "in the camp near Laramie, when moving west, Brigham Young and others counted up young Joseph's age, and Brigham said Joseph would come by the call of God when he should get to be about twenty-one years of age"; and to this Brother Williams added, "Brigham often, in Utah, said much the same in regard to Joseph, and" that "such was the faith of the Utah church until Brigham Young changed it." He further said Brigham Young afterwards preached against young Joseph, calling him a drunkard, a pettifogger, and an associate with his father's murderers; also that Joseph had forfeited his right, and that David Hyrum would lead
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the church; but that when David composed the song beginning, "Little Herald, stop a moment," Brigham then said the Smith boys had forfeited their rights, and from that time on he took special pains to belittle and abuse Emma and her sons.
Brother Williams related that his son Thomas, once a lawyer and a wealthy merchant of Utah, was without doubt slain by Brigham's secret police, with Brigham's knowledge and connivance, and that after that affair he (Williams) found it essential to his own peace and safety to get out of Utah, and that by a crafty move he succeeded in getting up, first among the apostates at Malad City, and after that he located in Gallatin County, Montana, where he resided until he moved to Missouri.
Brother J. T. Davis and I held services in the theater in Joplin, having excellent attention and interest. Continued in this region until December 10, preaching the word and adjusting church affairs. A few persons were added to the church.
When at Brother I. L. Rogers', December 25, in company with Brethren Joseph and David Smith and Emma, their mother, also H. A. Stebbins and some others, Sister Emma incidentally mentioned that she once told Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball to their faces that the first two principles of their religion were deception and lying. And she remarked further that herein was the cause for Brigham Young's saying that she taught her children to lie.
During the month of January, 1874, and the first part of February following, I was engaged in preparing
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tracts for the church on the first three principles of the gospel, preaching in the meantime as opportunity offered. The latter part of February I labored in Southern Wisconsin at Sandusky, Willow Branch, and other points; also setting in order some church affairs.
Preached in Galien, Michigan, and vicinity, and in Northern Illinois during March and until the session of General Conference, April 6, in Plano. The conference was small, owing to a misunderstanding of a recent Herald editorial.
President Joseph Smith at this conference "spoke of the fact that elders often complained of not being supported when they have gone over fields that others have exhausted. Said that often no account was given of means received. The elders are required to prove the world, or try the world. They should try new fields. Try and turn a new furrow. If it is practicable that the elders should go into the field, it is also practicable that means should be supplied." After the close of conference I continued my labors in assisting to prepare tracts for the church. Father Z. H. Gurley and I held a series of meetings in Mission the first days of May, resulting in the baptism of a goodly number.
On my way to St. Louis, June 10, I called at Nauvoo and learned with sorrow that Brother David H. Smith had become deranged in mind, and we advised mental rest and relaxation.
On the 14th, at ten o'clock, district conference convened in the city of St. Louis. My diary notes of that date read: "Met Brother James Whitehead
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in the hall, and when I grasped his hand the Holy Spirit fell upon me and witnessed that he was indeed a brother in the Lord." This was my first acquaintance with him.
This session of conference was a very spiritual and profitable one.
On the 16th Brother Whitehead related to me that Joseph the Seer "took young Joseph on the stand, in a public meeting, and putting his hand on his head he said to the Saints: I am no longer your prophet. This (referring to young Joseph) is your prophet. I have finished my work and am going to rest."
Brother Whitehead said that young Joseph was ordained by Joseph and Hyrum in the council room in the brick store. He also said he was Joseph's clerk at that time and after. He also said that he heard Joseph say, in public, that if Brigham Young had the lead of the church he would lead it to hell.
I spent some time preaching in and about St. Louis, and over in Illinois at Caseyville, Alma, and West Belleville. Some additions were made to the church by baptism.
On the eleventh day of July I went to Wayne County, Illinois, and in company with Brother G. H. Hilliard entered upon active ministerial labor near Jeffersonville, and the Lord added to the church a few there.
From the twenty-third day of July to September 8, I preached the word and looked after church interests in Floyd, Clark, Crawford, and Ripley Counties, Indiana, baptizing a number; also labored
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some in and near Amanda, Ohio. The little branch at this point was united and spiritual under the watchcare of Brother M. B. Williams.
I attended the fall conference, September 18, at Park's Mills, near Council Bluffs. At this conference Brother Joseph Smith exhorted the Saints to steadfastness in strict adherence to the principles they had espoused, being satisfied that the work was one which God would bless. He was with his people in heart, the object sought of the work being eternal life with rest and peace. The Saints were warned against giving too much heed to reputed revelations, far too often siren songs and not from the Lord. He wanted to be sure that it is the Lord that speaketh before he obeyed; further stating that it is a serious thing to belong to the Church of Christ; that we should be careful and honest about our fellowship; that forbearance is due to each other, and that we are nearer together in unity than what we were."
On the 23d I was chosen a member of the Board of Publication in place of Brother Elijah Banta, resigned.
October 17 I met in council at Plano with Brethren Joseph Smith, I. L. Rogers, and J. W. Briggs in relation to the latter taking a mission to Utah and publishing a periodical in the interests of the church there, also in respect to selecting some central business location for the church and the press. On the 19th, in the same council, with Brother Elijah Banta added, met at Brother I. L. Rogers' to consider the same matters, and, after prayerful deliberation,
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it was resolved that the southwestern part of Decatur County, Iowa was the most eligible business center for the future business center of the church and that Brethren I. L. Rogers, David Dancer, and Elijah Banta be a committee to raise funds, purchase lands, and locate the site.
November 13 I was with Elder Henry A. Stebbins at Brother Ormond Dutton I s near Janesville, Wisconsin, to arrange for a discussion with Elder William Sheldon' of the Advent Church, who had expressed a desire in public to discuss with any representative man in respect to the conscious condition of the soul after death; and after seeking for two days to get him to either accept or make challenge, he left for his home at Broadhead, Brother Stebbins and I engaged in preaching in that vicinity and at Burlington and Rochester, Wisconsin. On the fifteenth day of December I wrote a challenge to Elder Sheldon, covering all the essential points of difference between us, and sent to him at Broadhead, inviting him by the courtesy of President Joseph Smith, to come to Plano and discuss the points involved. Shortly after, I received an answer declining or reason that at Plano we had a large church and the sympathies of the citizens. I then invited him, by the courtesy of presiding elder, Elijah Banta to meet us in discussion in the city of Sandwich offering to furnish hall, board, and incidentals, free. To this he made a similar reply. I immediately wrote him proposing to discuss the propositions of Broadhead, where he resided. To this he made
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no reply, but not long afterward he began publishing of letters in the World's Crisis, of Boston, against the issues presented in the propositions. This gave occasion Herald, and in due time, for the publication of Joseph the Seer. It had been shown me, when with Brother Stebbins at Mission, Illinois, that Mr. Sheldon would not abide a discussion, but would skulk away, not daring to meet the issues.
During the month of January and up to Februrary 21, 1875, I held a series of very interesting meetings at Pecatonica, Illinois, had large and attentive audiences, was blessed of the Spirit, made many friends to the church, some additions resulting therefrom in due time. On the 23d, by courtesy of Brother Joseph Smith, I read a letter to him from Doctor R. D. Foster, Ocala, Iroquois County, Illinois' it will be remembered by many that he figured prominently with the Laws and others at Nauvoo in the persecutions against Joseph and the Saints in 1844. He now seemed deeply concerned and interested concerning the latter-day work, and bore strong testimony to the prophetic mission of Joseph the Seer. Some of his testimonies were afterward printed in the Herald. From this time forward I assisted in matters pertaining to the Board of Publication until conference convened, April 6, at Plano.
May 1, attended conference at Binghampton, Wisconsin, and on the 2d assisted in dedicating a church erected by the Saints at that place, after which I preached at Shiocton and Oshkosh. My labors throughout Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois
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up to the sixteenth day of June were rewarded with a number of substantial accessions to the church. Preached in Galien, Michigan, from the twenty-first to the twenty-eighth days of June, three of Brother Blakeslee's family being added to the church by baptism. The last days of July and up to the seventeenth day of August I preached at various points in the vicinity of Lawrence, Michigan, resulting in the addition of a few by baptism. While here I met with the family of Brother Seth P. Bass and learned that their daughter (now Mrs. Columbus Scott) had been miraculously healed by the administration of the elders when physicians had pronounced her beyond the help of medical skill. My next point was Coldwater, Michigan, and its vicinity. I labored here and over in the edge of Indiana from the 18th to the 30th, and found the church in that region in a fairly prosperous condition.
On the eighth day of September met with the fall conference at Park's Mills, near Council Bluffs, and when returning home to Illinois, labored a short season in Decatur County, Iowa.
The twenty-first day of November found me in the city of St. Louis. I remained there preaching, and in its vicinity, and also at various points in Illinois until the ninth day of February, 1876, and found as a general thing, the work of the church progressing fairly. A number of additions were made to the church and the Spirit of the Lord was manifested in the midst of his people. An incident worthy of mention occurred in the city of St. Louis.
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A Sister Cowlishaw fell from a high box, striking the small of her back in such a manner as to render her helpless, and distressing her with almost unbearable pain. Various remedies were used for her relief without help. As a last resort she sent for Elder William Anderson and myself to administer to her with anointing and prayer. On entering her room we found her unable to move and in great distress. After a season of prayer, we administered to her and the Holy Spirit was present in a large degree. After administration I remarked to her that we were blessed, and I was assured she would be. Upon this she sprang from the bed and exclaimed to Brother Anderson, "Oh, Brother William! is it possible! I am healed! That pain has all gone!" and with many words she expressed her gratitude to God for her speedy restoration.
Spring conference for 1876 convened at Plano. During the session the Rules of Order was presented and adopted by conference as a manual of practice for the church.
The Adventists, under the lead of W. C. Thurman, had lately been waiting at Lewiston, Maine, in a hall decorated for the purpose, for the coming of the Savior. Elder Thurman felt quite sure that Christ would make his second advent April 19, 1875. These failures are a piece with a score of other times appointed by the various bodies Adventists, which proves that they know but little, if anything, in respect to the subject of the second advent.
May 11, a council composed of the First Presidency,
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Bishopric, and Board of Publication met in the Herald editor's room, in Plano, where it was resolved that I. L. Rogers, David Dancer, and W. W. Blair be a committee to arrange for locating the business center at some other point than Plano. In answer to letters we wrote to various parties at various points; we received many communications; and on the sixth day of June the "locating board" decided to fix the business center of the church in the southwestern corner of Decatur County, Iowa, as soon as practicable. David Dancer, John Scott, and W. W. Blair were made an executive committee to procure means, buy lands, and locate the business center.
I labored in the ministry throughout Northern Illinois, so far as my other duties permitted, up to the sixteenth day of June, and then went to Piper City and Roberts, preaching there for a season, reaching St. Louis the latter part of the month. Continued my labors there and at West Belleville and vicinity until the sixth day. of July, when I started for the Eastern States, making a short call at Amanda Branch, near Middletown, Ohio. From there I went to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where I labored until the 26th. During this time I baptized and confirmed some in Pittsburg. From here I went, in company with my wife, to Philadelphia, attended the Exposition, and on the third day of August we proceeded on to Newark, New Jersey.
The fifth day of August found me at Fall River, Massachusetts, laboring in the midst of the Saints, from whence I proceeded to New Bedford and then
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to Providence, Rhode Island, preaching and looking after the interests of the church. I continued in the Massachusetts District, where I was joined by Brother Elijah Banta, preaching and holding council meetings until the 31st, when I returned to Philadelphia. I found the Saints in the Massachusetts District in a united and prosperous condition, enjoying the gifts and blessings of the Spirit in a large measure. Among other confirming testimonies of the Holy Spirit, I learned of the miraculous healing of an old lady (a Mrs. Atwell, I believe), before she became a member of the church a short time before, at Providence, of internal cancer, said to be such by her physicians, who confessed that they could do nothing to effect her recovery.
I spent a prosperous and pleasant season preaching the word and visiting among the Saints and friends in Hornerstown, New Egypt, and other points in New Jersey.
While in Philadelphia, about the twentieth day of September, I was shown that I should go to the fall conference in Western Iowa, which hitherto I had not intended to do, and on the sixth day of October I met with the conference at Park's Mills, near Council Bluffs. President Joseph Smith was absent in the Pacific Mission, the attendance was large, reports from all quarters were generally good, and showing a large increase in numbers and interest. At one of the services was witnessed what many have seen elsewhere, namely, a minister of excellent repute and first-class qualifications, caused
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by the withdrawal of the Spirit of God, to stop preaching in the midst of what promised to be a very entertaining discourse. This is one of the peculiarities attaching to the preaching of the word by ministers among the Latter Day Saints, and many of the elders have had experience in this direction. The Lord said to Jeremiah, "Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee; be ye not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them." The Lord did similarly with Ezekiel and others of his servants, and yet the Lord said to the latter, "I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb and shalt not be to them a reprove * * * But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them," etc.
The Lord did similarly with Zacharias (Luke 1: 20, 22), and with Moses (Exodus 4: 10-12), all of which prove that such are the servants of God, and that he exercises over them immediate control, and is one of the peculiar and strongly confirmatory evidences of the special government of God, and of the divinity of the latter-day work. We repeat it, that many of the ablest, most eloquent, and popular ministers of the Latter Day Saints, have experienced this special control of the Lord, and experienced thereby that the Lord holds the reins of his work in his own hands. It would seem that such occasions are designed of God to teach his people the great fact that without him we can nothing, a fact essential for all to know.
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On the nineteenth day of October I met with E. H. Pierce, a Brighamite elder, and never had a keener sense of the cunning craft in Brighamism, and never saw the importance fact so clearly, that the simple, unadorned of Jesus Christ was, and is, and is to be, the of God unto salvation to every one who accepts it. This Brighamite elder made plural marriage and the Brighamite endowments essential to salvation, as his leaders and fellow ministers also had done. and in this way were beguiling and blinding the people, causing them to put their trust for salvation, not purely and alone in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but in these added, hurtful, and heretical theories, thus casting contempt upon the gospel and saying in effect that it was not the power of God unto salvation to those who believe it.
I remained in Western Iowa and North Missouri until the middle of December following, preaching the word, having fair success. The balance of the winter of 1876, and 1877, I devoted in preaching at various points in Northern Southern Wisconsin, and Eastern Iowa, and in looking after the interests of the committee on location and duties of the First Presidency.
The thirtieth day of December, I performed the sad service at Spring Prairie, Wisconsin, of preaching the funeral sermon of Brother William Aldrich. He united with the Reorganized Church in 1859 and had been an active worker and a liberal helper with his means in building up the church of Christ. He was held in high esteem among the Saints and
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by his neighbors near Burlington, where he had resided for nearly thirty years. While in that vicinity Brother John Montgomery, his wife's brother, related to me how he was healed in New Hampshire, a few years before, of a stiff knee-joint from which he had suffered from his boyhood. Brother Samuel Powers and Brother Aldrich administered to him in a meeting when East on a mission. He stated that as he returned home from this meeting, when passing his pasture, he got out of his carriage, opened the gate and drove some stock out, and as he returned to shut the gate, he for the first time perceived that his lameness and stiffness of the knee joint has passed away, and that he could walk with the utmost ease.
Brother Aldrich had stated to me in conversation relating to the latter-day work, the cruel, unprovoked mobbings and robbings that he, in common with others of the Saints, had endured in Caldwell County, Missouri, in 1838 and 1839, and the distress he and his family suffered in consequence, and how he suffered a spirit of vindictiveness and bitterness to inspire him against the Missourians, and that this continued with him until he heard and united with the Reorganized Church in 1859. When I met him in California, in 1871, he told me that on passing through Salt Lake City, and meeting with Brigham Young, George A. Smith, and many others whom he had formerly known intimately in Kirtland, Far West, and Nauvoo. they still retained the same spirit of hatred and retaliation, and that he could make great allowance for them, for he had
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been under the same influences till he renewed his covenant in the Reorganized Church.
The month of January following, I labored in the ministry at Burnside and vicinity in Illinois with fair success, baptizing a number. While here I learned some of the tactics of the anti-Mormons from 1843 to 1846. I was told by persons not members of the church, that the persecutors stole and hid away their own stock and charged it upon the Mormons in order to create prejudice and bitterness against them, so as to drive them out of the country, that they might obtain their lands and other property at a great sacrifice. One of these gentlemen told me that immediately after the Mormons were driven from Nauvoo, he was at Fountain Green and heard some of the persecutors, who were warm and unguarded with strong drink, boast and laugh about their getting their neighbors' cattle and horses out of the pastures into the highway, and then arousing these neighbors by their cries that the Mormons were driving off their stock to Nauvoo, after which they would skulk into the corn-fields or brush so as to avoid detection. In this and similar ways many honorable and fair-minded people were made to believe that the Mormons were very bad citizens and thus turning their influence against them.
While at Burnside I was told by Brother Solomon Salisbury of this remarkable conversion. He had been an infidel and a very worldly-minded man, and was given to intemperance, frolicking, gambling, and the like. At length he was smitten with
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disease which terminated in what was supposed to be quick consumption. He grew worse rapidly until he was said to be beyond the power of medical skill. At this time he dreamed and was told in the vision to send for his cousin, President Joseph Smith, and that if he did so the latter would administer to him and he should be healed. Conscious that the manifestation was one of mercy from God, he immediately sent a telegram to President Smith, at Plano, upon which the latter came, talked with him on gospel topics, and then, though the weather was extremely raw and chilly, on Brother Salisbury's urgent demand, he was taken in a wagon to a stream of water near by, was baptized, and in a short time was radically cured and made a new creature in Christ Jesus spiritually and bodily, and from that time forward to the present he has been a gospel helper and a witness for the truth.
I had occasion during the month of February to write in defense of the perfect prophetic character of the Prophet Ezekiel which had been hurtfully assailed by one of our leading ministers. The article may be found in Herald for March 1, 1877. During the latter part of the month I held a series of profitable meetings in Burlington, Iowa, and on the 26th instant baptized and confirmed six persons, among them Brother Frederick Johnson and wife and son.
Annual conference convened at Plano, April 6. The committee on location reported their efforts, and were heartily sustained by the conference. The session lasted seven days and the meetings for business,
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prayer and testimony, were attended by the Holy Spirit richly, and much important business was done.
Brethren Joseph Luff and J. J. Cornish, of Canada, attended this session, and on request of Brother I. L. Rogers to supply preachers for our branch at Sandwich on Sunday, the 8th, I secured these brethren to speak at the morning and evening services. They were strangers to our people, young in years, new members of the church, and some thought I had made a mistake in my selection for it was expected that many of the leading of Sandwich would attend our services. I assured the anxious and doubting ones that no mistake had been made. At eleven o'clock our chapel was packed with intelligent and eager listeners. After the preliminary exercises, I introduced Brother Cornish who, in a meek but trustful way, entered upon his sermon, and from beginning to close the Spirit of the Lord rested upon him with much grace and power while he discoursed upon these words of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians: " 'Our gospel came unto you not in word only, but in power, and in, the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." Probably that text never had a clearer exemplification of the sentiments it contains than in the effort of Brother Cornish. All were pleased, and many were anxious he should preach the sermon in the evening. -- The doubters' fears had fled away.
In the evening, Brother Joseph Luff was the speaker. It was feared by some that he would not
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be equal to the occasion, and these suggested that Brother Cornish or myself occupy the hour, but I assured them again that no mistake had been made in selecting the speakers for the occasion, and so it proved, for Brother Luff preached a most timely, spiritual, and effective discourse, and just such as was needed for the occasion. These young ministers were living witnesses and exemplars of what the Lord does in enlightening and sustaining even the young and inexperienced minister who trusts him faithfully and serves him in spirit and in truth. One such experience is greater proof of the divinity of the Christian religion and of the latter-day work than all the learned, uninspired treatises and sermons and lectures ever put forth by uninspired men, for God puts his manifest seal on their efforts.
[ 201 ]
The close of the preceding chapter brings the Memoirs of W. W. Blair to the spring of 1877. He kept a faithful account of all of his travels and work from that time up to the time of his death, and the writer of this chapter has long had it in mind to finish this work that he had begun. However, after carefully reading the diaries that lie kept I am compelled to conclude that, if attempted, the work would be unsatisfactory to the readers as well as myself, and so it is omitted.
These memoirs are published that his early experiences as well as the experiences of some others with whom he was closely associated in the early days of the Reorganization may be preserved to the church. While his death was a heavy blow to his family, there is comfort in. the thought that lie died at the post of duty, busily engaged in the Master's cause, The following extract from the obituary notice, written by Elder Mark H. Forscutt, appeared in the Herald of April 29, 1906.
"The sudden stroke by which Father Time laid one of Israel's nobles low, and removed one half of the late presiding quorum of the church militant to the realms of paradise, is felt and mourned deeply wherever the knowledge of its great loss has gone. The one of whom we thus write was American by birth, but Scotch by descent, and was named by his
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parents William Wallace, a name that to some who are familiar with the history of that noble Scotchman, his faithfulness to principle, and his integrity to his chief, will seem almost prophetic as they recall President Blair's devotion to principle and his personal integrity to the prophet of Israel whose counselor divine wisdom had chosen him to be.
"William Wallace Blair was born at Holly, in Oneida County, in the state of New York, on October 11, 1828, and died April 18, 1896. He had therefore lived in the flesh 67 years, 6 months, and 7 days, filling a little less than the proverbial threescore and ten of earthly pilgrimage; but as his life was not one of those which are measured by years so much as by deeds, we feel assured that he filled his mission ere he took his departure, and has gone to his reward.
"Our departed brother, notwithstanding the position to which he attained in the Church of Christ, charged himself with being, at one time, quite skeptical on religious questions. His skepticism., however, was not an innate quality of the man. He loved truth and admired consistency in doctrine. He believed that if the Bible was to be accepted as containing the word of God, then all so-called Christian dogmas, as well as the ethics and personnel of Christians should be weighed and measured by it. Unsatisfied with what he heard, disappointed in what he saw, lie lost faith in professing Christians, and in Christian professions. But when he heard 'the eleventh-hour message' delivered by William Smith, a brother of the Palmyra Seer,
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he accepted it in good faith, and adhered to it thenceforth to the end. It was to him the Good Shepherd's voice. This was in 1851. Like others under William Smith's leadership, he looked forward to and hoped for the restoration of the church to the order and system of government it was under before the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and from which he believed there had been serious apostasy. In consequence of this hope He took an active interest in the organization known as the Reorganized Church, and became identified with it on April 7, 1857. This was during a conference held at Blanchardville, Wisconsin. He was there ordained a high priest; this on the day following his admission to church fellowship. On October 7, 1858, he was ordained an apostle.
"As an apostle and a traveling minister lie was conscientiously and almost continuously employed. As such he was, perhaps, the most widely known minister of the church in America. Personally be had many friends, and by his kindness of heart and suavity of manner he made friends for the cause wherever he went, as well as for himself and by implication, for his compeers, and for every worthy representative of the cause he so well loved and so worthily adorned.
"As a counselor, an official character the divine Leader alone can determine his value in. little can be said by man. His reverent and pacificatory disposition would of necessity prevent him from attempting to lead where he should but counsel and guide, equally as his manly and courageous qualities would
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preserve him from sycophancy, prevent him from fawning, and deter him from offering the adulations which would mark the policy of him who would rather seek for meeds of praise from his chief than the establishment of what in his judgment would involve honor and truth. To stand by one holding the important position of President of the Church in all the world, to drink sufficiently deep draughts of inspiration to sufficiently grasp every new truth revealed, to be competent to teach such truth, to defend it against opposition, and its revelator against the suggestions of doubt, and the objections of unbelief, requires spirituality, judgment, firmness, and courage such as few men possess; but President Blair possessed all these qualities in an eminent degree. The church has lost an able and loving representative; but none will feel the loss more keenly than the one of his quorum who is left to mourn alone. We all deplore our loss; but confident that lie who has taken our brother does all things well, we meekly bow and pray for grace to say from the deepest depths of the heart's fountain, 'Thy will, O God, be done.' Israel has thousands of good men; but had only one William W. Blair."
We thus close this volume, and humbly pray that it may be the means in God's hands of encouraging and building up the faith of all who may read its pages.
LAMONI, Iowa, July 7, 1908.
Elder William Wallace Blair (1828-1896)