Confessions of John D Lee / Mormonism Unveiled - Chapters 1 - 8
A STORMY BEGINNING.
IN JUSTICE to myself, my numerous family, and the public in general, I consider it my duty to write a history of my life. I shall content myself with giving facts, and let the readers draw their own conclusion therefrom. By the world at large, I am called a vile criminal, and have been sentenced to be shot for deeds committed by myself and others, nearly twenty years ago. I never willingly committed a crime. I have acted my religion, nothing more. I have obeyed the orders of the Church. I have acted as I was commanded to do by my superiors, and if I have committed acts that justify my execution, I ask my readers to say what should be the fate of the leaders in the Church who taught me to believe that I could not and would not commit sin while obeying orders of the priesthood? My sins, if any, are the result of doing what I was commanded to do by those who were my superiors in authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will now give the facts which relate to my own history, and leave it to others to say how I should have acted - how they would have acted if situated as I was.
I was born on the 6th day of September, A. D. 1812, in the town of Kaskaskia, Randolph County, Illinois. My father, Ralph Lee, was born in the State of Virginia. He was of the family of Lees of Revolutionary fame, and was a relative of General Robert E. Lee, of the late war; he served his time as an apprentice and learned the carpenter's trade in the city of Baltimore. My mother was born in Nashville, Tennessee. She was the daughter of John Doyle, who for many years held the position of Indian Agent over the roving tribes of Indians in southeastern Illinois. He served in the war of the Revolution, and was wounded in one of the many battles in which he took part with the Sons of Liberty against the English oppressors. About the year 1796, he was appointed Indian Agent, and moved to Kaskaskia, Illinois.
My mother was first married in 1799, to Oliver Reed, and lived with him until he was assassinated by a man named Jones, who entered the house when the family were asleep, and striking Reed with a seat of a loom, knocked his brains out, at the same time severely wounding my half-sister, Eliza Virginia, then six months old. The blow and the screams of the child wakened my mother, who sprang from the bed, and recognizing the assassin, said, "For God's sake, Jones, spare my husband's life!" Jones said, "You know me, G-d-n you! you shall tell no tales." With this, he caught up a sugar trough and struck my mother on the head with it. The blow rendered her senseless. Jones, believing he had completed his work of death, then left the house. My mother soon revived, called upon the neighbors for assistance, and told who had committed the murder. Jones was arrested, convicted and afterwards hung for the crime. The injuries received by my mother, from the blow struck by Jones, affected her all the rest of her life.
After the death of Reed, my mother went back to Kaskaskia lived in her father's family until she married my father in the year 1808. My mother had two children by my father - that is, William Oliver and myself. My brother, William Oliver, died when about two years old. At the time of my birth my father was considered one of the leading men of that section of country; be was a master workman, sober and attentive to business, prompt and punctual to his engagements. He contracted largely and carried on a heavy business; he erected a magnificent mansion, for that age and country, on his land adjoining the town of Kaskaskia. This tract of land was the property of my mother when she married my father. My grandfather Doyle was a wealthy man. He died in 1809 at Kaskaskia, Illinois, and left his whole fortune to my mother and her sister Charlotte, by will. They being his only children, he divided the property equally between them.
My father and mother wore both Catholics, were raised in that faith; I was christened in that Church. William Morrison and Louise Phillips stood as my representative god-father and god-mother. It is from that Church record that I could alone obtain the facts and date that referred to my birth.
When about one year old, my mother being sick, I was sent to a French nurse, a negro woman. At this time my sister Eliza was eleven years old, but young as she was she had to care for my mother and do all the work of the household. To add to the misfortune, my father began to drink heavily and was soon very dissipated; drinking and gambling was his daily occupation. The interest and care of his family was no longer a duty with him; his presence was seldom seen to cheer and comfort his lonely, afflicted wife. The house was one mile from town, and we had no neighbors nearer than that. The neglect and indifference on the part of my father towards my afflicted mother, served to increase her anguish and sorrow, until death came to her relief. My mother's death left us miserable indeed; we were (my sister and I) thrown upon the wide world, helpless, and I might say, without father or mother. My father when free from the effects of intoxicating drink, was a kind-hearted, generous, noble man, but from that, time forward he was a slave to drink - seldom sober.
My aunt Charlotte was a regular spit-fire; she was married to a man by the name of James Conner, a Kentuckian by birth They lived ten miles north of us. My sister went to live with her aunt, but the treatment she received was so brutal that the citizens complained to the county commissioners, and she was taken away from her aunt and bound out to Dr. Fisher, with whose family she lived until she became of age. In the meantime the Doctor moved to the city of Vandalia, Illinois. I remained with my nurse until I was eight years of age, when I was taken to my aunt Charlotte's, to be educated. I had been in a family which talked French so long that I had nearly lost the knowledge of my mother tongue. The children at school called me Gumbo, and teased me so much that I became disgusted with the French language and tried to forget it - which has been a disadvantage to me since that time.
My aunt was rich in her own right. My uncle Conner was poor; he drank and gambled and wasted her fortune; she in return gave him thunder and blizen all the time. The more she scolded, the worse he acted, until they would fight like cats and dogs. Between them I was treated worse than an African slave. I lived in the family eight years, and can safely say I got a whipping every day I was there. My life was one of misery and wretchedness; and if it had not been for my strong religious convictions, I certainly would have committed suicide, to have escaped from the miserable condition I was in. I then believed, as I do still, that for the crime of suicide there was no forgiveness in this world, or that which is to come. My aunt was more like a savage than a civilized woman. In her anger she generally took her revenge upon those around her who were the least to blame. She would strike with anything she could obtain, with which to work an injury. I have been knocked down and beaten by her until I was senseless, scores of times, and I yet carry many scars on my person, the result of my harsh usage by her.
My experience in childhood made a lasting impression upon me; the horrors of a contentious family have haunted me through life. I then resolved in my mind that I would never subject myself to sorrow and misery as my uncle had done. I would marry for love, and not for riches. I also formed the resolution that I would never gamble after I was married, and I have kept that resolution since I was a married man.
Aunt Charlotte had five children, four girls and one boy; i. e., Minerva C., Amanda, Eliza, Maria and John Edgar. They, as well as myself, were strangers to the affections of a mother, and the pleasures of a home.
When I was sixteen years old, I concluded to leave my aunt's house - I cannot call it home; my friends advised me to do so. I walked one night to Kaskaskia; went to Robert Morrison and told him my story. He was a mail contractor. He clothed me comfortably, and sent me over the Mississippi river into Missouri, to carry the mail from St. Genevieve to Pinckney, on the north side of the Missouri River, via Potosi, a distance of one hundred and twenty-seven miles. It was a weekly mail. I was to receive seven dollars a month for my services. This was in December, 1828. It was a severe winter; snow unusually deep, and roads bad. I was often until two o'clock at night in reaching my stations. In the following Spring I came near losing my life on several occasions when swimming the streams, which were then generally over their banks. The Meramec was the worse stream I had to cross, but I escaped danger, and gave satisfaction to my employer. At my request, I was changed, in the Spring of 1829, to the route from Kaskaskia to Vandalia, Illinois, the then capital of the State; the route went by Covington and Carlisle. This was also a weekly route; the distance was about one hundred miles, and I had eighteen hours in which to make the trip. While I was carrying the mail in Missouri, I got a letter from my sister, informing me of her marriage to Josiah Nichols, a nephew of Barker Berry, the sheriff of Fayette county, Illinois, and inviting me to visit them. Nichols was a wealthy man, and lived sixteen miles north of Vandalia. I had not met my sister for many years, so I concluded to visit her. This was one reason why I wished to be put on the Vandalia route. One day, when I arrived at Vandalia, I did not find post-master in the post-office. I could not find him, so I left mail at the post-office door, and rode up to my brother-in-law's house. I had a pleasant visit there, and returned the next morning to carry the mail back to Kaskaskia. The post-master, not knowing where I was, had sent another person with the mail, at my expense. It cost me $ 15.00 - a little over my wages for two months. I returned to Kaskaskia, where my employer received me kindly, and laughed at my mishap. I agreed to pay all damages if he would change me to another route, for I could not consent to return again to the scene of my failure. My employer kindly gave me the place as stage driver from Kaskaskia to Shawneetown, on the Ohio river. The route ran by Pinkneyville and Gallatin; and it was one hundred and twenty miles in length, through thinly settled country. I drove on that line about one month, when I commenced driving stage from Kaskaskia to Belleville. In traveling this route, I passed by my aunt Charlotte Conner's place. Uncle Conner had then gone to the lead mines at Galena. When my aunt and cousins saw me, they all begged me to return and live with them. They made great promises of kindness, and I was finally persuaded to agree to return, and live in the family. I soon quit the stage-driving business and returned to my aunt's.
All I know of my father, after I was eight years of age, is, that he went to Texas in the year 1820, and I have never heard of him since. What his fate was I never knew.
When my mother died, my uncle and aunt Conner took all the property - a large tract of land, several slaves, household and kitchen furniture, and all; and, as I had no guardian, I never received any portion of the property; in fact I was robbed of all. The slaves were set free by an act of the Legislature; the land was sold for taxes, and was hardly worth redeeming when I came of age; so I sold my interest in all the land that had belonged to my mother, and made a quit-claim deed to it to Sidney Breeze, a lawyer of Kaskaskia, in consideration of $200. My sister, by the kindness of Dr. Fisher, her guardian, received a. much greater price for her interest in the land than I did.
I was born on the point of land lying between and above the mouth of the Okaw or Kaskaskia river and the Mississippi river, in what is known as the Great American Bottom - the particular point I refer to was then called Zeal-no-waw, the Island of Nuts. It was, nineteen miles from the point of the bluffs to the mouth of the Okaw river; ten miles wide up at the bluffs and tapering to a point where the rivers united. Large bands of wild horses, French ponies called "punt" horses, were to be found any day feeding on the evergreen and nutritious grasses and vegetation. Cattle and hogs were also running wild in great numbers; every kind of game, large and small, could be had with little exertion. The streams were full of fish; the forests contained many varieties of timber; nuts, berries, and wild fruits of every description, found in the temperate zone, could be had in their season. This point of land is one of the finest on the globe; there I spent my early year.; there I had pleasures and sorrows; there I met the maiden that first taught me love's young dream. Near by was the Kaskaskia Reservation of the Kaskaskia Indians, Louis DuQuoin was Chief of the tribe. He had a frame house painted in bright colors, but he never would farm any, game being so plentiful he had no need to labor. Nearly all the settlers were French, and not very anxious for education or improvement of any kind. I was quite a lad before I ever saw a wagon, carriage, set of harness, or a ring, a staple or set of bows to an ox yoke. The first wagon I ever saw was brought into that county by a Yankee peddler; his outfit created as great an excitement in the settlement as the first locomotive did in Utah; the people flocked in from every quarter to see the Yankee wagon. Every thing in use in that country was of the most simple and primitive construction. There were no saw mills or grist mills in that region; sawed lumber was not in the country. The wagons were two-wheeled carts made entirely of wood - not a particle of iron about them - the hubs were of white elm, spokes of white oak or hickory, the felloes of black walnut, as it was soft and would bear rounding. The felloes were made six inches thick, and were strongly dowelled together with seasoned hardwood pins; the linch pin was of hickory or nab; the thus were wood; in fact all of it was wood. The harness consisted of a corn husk collar, hames cut from an ash tree root, or from an oak; tugs were raw hide; the lines also were raw hide; a hackamere or halter was used in place of a bridle; one horse was lashed between the thills by raw hide straps and pins in the thills for a hold back; when two horses were used, the second horse was fastened ahead of the first by straps fastened on to the thills of the cart.
Oxen were yoked as follows: A square stick of timber of sufficient length was taken and hollowed out at the ends to fit on the neck of the ox, close up to the horns, and this was fastened by raw hide straps to the horns. All other implements were made in an equally primitive manner. The people were of necessity self-sustaining, for they were forced to depend upon their own resources for everything they used. Clothing was made of home manufactured cloth or the skins of wild animals. Imported articles were procured at heavy cost, and but few found their way to our settlements. Steamboats and railroads were then unthought of, by us at least, and the navigation of the Mississippi was carried on In small boats, that could be drawn up. along the river bank by means of oars, spikes, poles and hook. The articles most in demand in the settlements were axes, hoe, cotton cards, hatchela for cleaning flax, hemp and cotton, spinning wheels, knives and ammunition, guns and bar shears for plows. In exchange for such goods the people traded beef, hides, furs, tallow, beeswax, honey, etc. Money was not needed or used by any one-everything was trade and barter.
The people were generous and brave. Their pleasures and pastimes were those usual in frontier settlements. They were hardy, and well versed in woodcraft. They aided each other, and were all in all a noble class of people, possessing many virtues and few faults. The girls were educated by their mothers. to work, and had to work. It was then a disgrace for a young woman not to know bow to take the raw material - the flax and cotton - and, unaided, manufacture her own clothing. It is a lamentable fact that such is no longer the case.
THE INDUSTRIOUS YOUNG MAN.
AFTER I settled up with my employer and drew my wages I had but little money left. But I had learned one good lesson: that men who will lead you into trouble will seldom stand by you to get you out of it. I then knew that a soft answer turned away wrath, and I also found out that a man should never spend money that he had not earned. So I determined to live within my income from that time forward, to be prompt and punctual to all my engagements; making my word my honor and my bond. Theme rules I incorporated into my creed and tried hard to reduce them to practice.
I formed a liking for Emily Conner, the daughter of Henry Conner, when we were quite young. Her father was Marshal of the State of Illinois, under Ninian Edwards, the Governor of the State. Emily was an orphan, and lived for about four years at my aunt Charlotte's after her mother died, and until her father married again. She had a consoling word for me at all times when I was in trouble. From being friends, we became lovers and were engaged to be married, when my circumstances would permit. The year after I quit driving stage, I raised a large crop of grain on my aunt's farm, but she did not think I was entitled to any pay for it. This, after her fine promises, was rather disheartening, but I bore it without complaining. My uncle Conner returned home that Fall, and was much pleased to see me back on the farm again, and by his influence I was well treated the remainder of the Fall and Winter. That Winter I went to a school for three months. Early in the Spring the Indian war, known as the Black Hawk war, broke out, and volunteers were called for. I enrolled myself at the first call, in the company of Captain Jacob Feaman, of Kaskaskia. My uncle Conner was First Lieutenant in the same company. The company was ordered to rendezvous at Fort Armstrong, Rock Island, where the troops were reorganized, and Capt. Feaman was promoted to Colonel, and James Conner became Captain of the company. I served until the end of the war, and was engaged in many skirmishes, and lastly was at the battle of Bad Axe, which I think took place on the 4th day of August, A. D. 1831, but am not certain as to the date.
The soldiers were allowed to go home about the first of September, 1831. Our company got to Kaskaskia, and were discharged, I think, on the first of September, 1881. I got back to my uncle's with a broken-down horse and worn-out clothing, and without money. During that month I concluded to seek a more genial clime, one where I could more rapidly better my financial condition. I went to see and talk with Emily, the friend of my childhood, and the girl that taught me first to love. I informed her of my intentions. We pledged mutual and lasting fidelity to each other, and I bid farewell to the old farm, and went to St. Louis to seek employment. When I landed on the wharf at St. Louis, I met a negro by the name of Barton, who had formerly been a slave to my mother. He informed me that he was a fireman on the steamboat Warrior, running the Upper Mississippi, between St. Louis, Mo., and Galena, Illinois. I told him I wanted work. He said he could get me a berth on the Warrior as fireman, at $25.00 a month; but he considered the work more than I could endure, as it was a hard, hot boat to fire on. I insisted on making the effort, and was employed as fireman on the Warrior, at $25.00 per month. I found the work was very hard. The first two or three times that I was on watch, I feared I would be forced to give it up; but my proud spirit bore me up, and I managed to do my work until we reached the lower rapids near Keokuk. At this place the Warrior transferred its freight, in light boats, over the rapids to the Henry Clay, a steamer belonging to the same line.
The Henry Clay then lay at Commerce, now known as Nauvoo. I was detailed with two others to take a skiff with four passengers over the rapids. The passengers were Mrs. Bogges and her mother, and a lady whose name I have forgotten, and Mr. Bogges. The distance to the Henry Clay from where the Warrior lay, was twelve miles. A large portion of the cargo of the Warrior belonged to the firm of Bogges & Co. When we had gone nearly half-way over the rapids my two assistants got drunk and could no longer assist me; they lay down in the skiff and went to sleep. Night was fast approaching, and there was no chance for sleep or refreshment, until we could reach Commerce or the Henry Clay. The whole labor fell on me, to take that skiff and its load of passengers to the steamer. Mr. Bogges aided me when he could do so, but much of the distance I had to wade in the water and push the skiff as was most convenient, I had on a pair of new calf-skin boots when we started, but they were cut out by the rocks in the river long before reached the end of the journey.
After a great deal of hardship I succeeded in getting my passengers to the steamer just as it became dark. I was wet, cold, hungry and nearly exhausted. I had strained every nerve to accomplish my task, and save those ladies, from a night of suffering in an open skiff on the river. Yet when we boarded the boat I was forgotten; no one paid any attention to me. I was among strangers. I expected that the passengers that I had faithfully served would see to my wants, but in this I was mistaken; no one paid any attention to me. I sat down by the engine in my wet clothing and soon fell asleep, without bedding or food. I slept from exhaustion until near midnight, when I was seized with fearful crampings, accompanied by a cold and deathlike numbness. I tried to rise up, but could not. Every time I made an effort to rise, the pains increased. I thought my time had come, and that I would perish without aid or assistance. When all hope had left me, I heard a foot-step approaching, and a man came and bent over me and asked if I was ill. I recognized the voice as that of Mr. Bogges. I said I was in the agonies of death, and a stranger without a friend on the boat. He felt my pulse, and hastened away, saying as he left me, "Do not despair, young man, you are not without friends, I will return at once. He soon came to me bringing a lantern and a bottle of cholera medicine, and gave me a large dose of the medicine, then he brought the Captain and others to me. I was soon comfortably placed in bed, and from that time I had every attention paid me, and all the medical care that was necessary. Mr. Bogges sat by me a long time and rubbed my hands and limbs until the cramping gave way. He told me by way of apology for his seeming neglect, that he had supposed I was one of the regular crew of the Henry Clay, and was among friends. That his wife and mother-in-law had noticed that I appeared to be a stranger, and they had seen me when I sat down by the engine alone; that after they retired, his wife was restless and insisted on his getting up and finding me; this was the occasion of his assistance coming as it did. He then asked me why I was there and for a history of my former career. I gave him a brief history of my life, which seemed to interest him very much. He told me he had formed a slight acquaintance with my uncle Conner, at Galena, the year before, and considered him rather a hard case. So the conversation dropped for that night. I recovered rapidly, and by noon the next day was up, and reported myself to the Captain for duty, informing him why I was there, and what I came for. I was set to work loading the steamer. In the meantime, Mr. Bogges had contracted for freighting his goods to Galena, where he resided; and had provided for the passage of himself, wife and mother-in-law. They would go by land from Commerce, as he dreaded the passage of the upper rapids in time of low water, as it then was. After finishing the loading of the steamer, I again began to fire up to get ready for a start. While so engaged, Mr. Bogges came to me, and talked to me for some time. He said steam-boating was a hard life at best, that I would be constantly wet, cold, and broken of my rest, and would soon drift into bad habits; that he considered me an honorable young man, and felt an interest in me like a father should feel for a son; that he admired my grit and courage, and said I had manly principles, which was more than the average, that his wife was interested in my welfare, and that, at the suggestion of her and her mother, and of his own wish, he now offered to employ me, and wished me to go to Galena with him, and act as his clerk that winter; that he was doing business as a provision and groceryman, that in the Spring he would furnish me with tools, and every thing I needed, and I could go to mining, it I wished to do so, and he would then give me the half that we could make. He asked me then what wages I was getting. I told him $25. "I will give you $50," said he. I said, "You are very kind, indeed, sir. I should not charge you more than I am getting here, except my expenses from Galena to Saint Louis, as I may have that to pay, for I may not suit you; for I have had very little experience in selling goods, though I have traded and trafficked considerably with the people where I have lived. And the services that I rendered you, as we came up the river, was simply my duty. It was what I had been employed to do, and I did it and no more. He said, "I know what you have done, and if you will only go with me, I will pay you double what you are getting here, and perhaps three times as much." "But," said I, "you know I am already employed, and have no right to break my contract, and leave my employer. He said he would arrange that with the Captain, if I would go with him. I consented, and after settling with the Captain of the Henry Clay, who bid me good bye and good luck, I started for Galena, Illinois, with Mr. Bogges and his family, to take charge of a business then almost new to me.
We reached Galena In safety, and good health. Now a new era in my life commenced. Mr. William Bogges introduced me to .John D. Mulligan, his partner. I at once commenced my duties as salesman and bar-tender at the store, and general outside man for Mr. Wm. Bogges; who placed me in charge of every thing in which he was interested.
The business was such that I found it more than play. Many a time I did not get rest or sleep for forty-eight hours at a time. I have frequently taken in $100 in twenty-four hours for drinks, at five cents a drink. The receipts, for provisions sold, would average $1000 a day. During the winter, Mr. Mulligun was taken sick, and I had the whole business to attend to for three weeks. I found out that the clerks in stores have as hard work to do, and put in more hours during the day and night than the farm hand has to labor. I paid strict attention to business, making the interest of my employers my interests. On account of my faithful services, I was permitted to prepare hot lunches during the night, to sell to gamblers. What I made was my own. In this way I made from $50 to $100 a month extra.
One day while I was absent from the store, looking after the farming interests of Mr. Bogges, a French half-breed, by the name of Shaunco, got on a drunken spree and cleared out the store, and saloon, too; he broke considerable furniture, glassware, and made himself generally troublesome. When I returned at night, Mr. Bogges told me of all the troubles that Shaunce had occasioned, and said if he repeated it, I must give him a good drubbing. I said I would rather have nothing to do with him. Things were quiet for a few days, then the miners got on a spree, and a large number of them came to where I was working. Shaunco was in the crowd. I was then out at dinner. They attacked Mulligan, beat him up badly, and ran him out of the building; then the drunken crowd set things up generally.
Hearing the disturbance, I ran to the store. I entered by the back door, and went behind the counter. As I did so Shaunce ran to the counter and grabbed up a large number of tumblers, and threw them over the house, breaking them all. I said, "Mr. Shaunce, you must either behave, or go out of the house. As I said so, he jumped over the counter, caught me by the throat, and shoved me back against the counter, saying, "You d-d little pup, how dare you insult me!" There was no time to swap knives. I must either receive a severe beating, or do something to prevent it. I remembered the advice that my uncle Conner had given me about fighting. He said, "John, it you ever get in a fight with a man that over-matches you, take one of his hands in both of yours, and let him strike as he may, but get one of his fingers in your mouth and then bite it, and hold on until he gives up. Acting on this advice, I succeeded in getting one of his thumbs in my mouth. I held to it until I dislocated the thumb joint, when he yelled, "Take him off!" This little affair made a quiet man of Shaunce, and my employers were more pleased with me than ever before. They made me a present of $50 for what I had done.
I formed a slight acquaintance with the father of General Grant while in Galena. He was a steady, orderly man. U. S. Grant was then about seventeen years of age. I remember a story that was told at that time about the Grant family by John L. Dickerson, who resided near Galena. Dickerson had a horse that he wanted to sell, and young Grant took a fancy to it and insisted that his father should buy it for him. The father sent young Grant to buy the horse, but directed him to give no more than $60, and said, "You offer him $50, and it he refuses that, offer $55; if he still refuses, you can give $60, but that is as much as I will pay, for he has offered it for that price. Young Grant went to Dickerson and commenced to talk about buying the horse. Dickerson said, "Tell me just what your father said about your trading with me. This made Grant think a few minutes, when he said, "Mr. Dickerson, I expect it is best to tell the truth. Then he informed him what his father had said. Dickerson was so pleased at it that he let Grant have the horse for $55, saying he deducted $5 on account of the lad being so honest.
I made money while with Bogges & Co., and was saving of what I earned. I did not gamble. I took good care of myself, and, having Lie respect of every person, I admit I was quite vain and proud. I was accused by the gamblers of being stingy with my money. So I thought I would do as others did, and commenced to give money to others as a stake to gamble with on shares. Soon I began to play. I won and lost, but did not play to any great extent. Mr. Bogges took me to task for gambling, gave me good advice, and showed me how utterly impossible it was for me to be a successful business man if I gambled. He also showed me many of the tricks of the gamblers, and I promised him to quit the practice as soon as I got married, and also not to gamble any more while in his employ. I kept these promises.
In the early part of 1832 I received an affectionate letter from my Emily, desiring me to return to her, and settle down before I had acquired a desire for a rambling life. I then had $500 in money and two suits of broad-cloth clothing. I was anxious to see Emily, so I settled up With Bogges & Co., and started for home. Emily was then living at her sister's house in Prairie de Roache; her brother-in-law, Thos. Blay, kept the tavern there. I boarded with them about two weeks, during which time I played cards with the Frenchmen there, and dealt vantune, or twenty-one, for them to bet at. I was lucky, but I lived fast, and spent my money freely, and soon found that half of it was gone.
I soon discovered that Emily was dissatisfied with my conduct. I proposed immediate marriage; Emily proposed to wait until the next fall, during which time we were to prepare for housekeeping. Her suggestions were well intended, and she wished to see if I would not reform, for she had serious doubts about the propriety of marrying a gambler. She asked me to quit gambling, and if I had made that promise all would have been well, but I was stubborn and proud and refused to make any promise; I thought it was beneath my dignity. I really intended to never gamble after my wedding, but I would not tell her so; my vanity overruled my judgment. I said to her that if she had not confidence enough in me to take me as I was, without requiring me to give such a promise, I would never see her again until I came to ask her to my wedding. This was cruel, and deeply wounded her; she burst into tears and turned from me. I never saw her again until I went to ask her to attend my wedding. I went up into the country and stopped with my cousins; while there I met the bride of my youth; she was the daughter of Joseph Woolsey and Abigail his wife; they had four daughters, all grown. I attended church, went to parties, picnics, etc., with the girls, and fell in love with Agathe Ann, the eldest girl. The old folks were opposed to my marrying their daughter, but after suffering the tortures and overcoming the obstacles usual in such cases, I obtained the consent of the girl's parents, and was married to Agathe Ann Woolsey on the 24th day of July, A. D. 1833. The expenses of the wedding ended all my money, and I was ready to start the world new and fresh. I had about $50 to procure things to keep house on, but it was soon gone; yet it procured about all we then thought we needed. I commenced housekeeping near my wife's father's, and had good success in all that I undertook. I made money, or rather I obtained considerable property, and was soon comfortably fixed. I followed trading everything, and for everything that was in the country.
My wife was born January 18, 1814; our first child was born on the 3rd day of July, 1834; we named him William Oliver. In October, 1884, I moved to Fayette county, Illinois, and settled north of Vandalia, near my sister's, and lived there some two years; during that time our oldest child died. I next purchased a farm on Luck Creek, in Fayette county, Illinois, and lived on it until I went to Missouri to Join the Mormon Church.
LEE BECOMES A MORMON.
IN 1836 my second child, Elizabeth Adaline, was born. After I moved to Luck Creek I was a fortunate man and accumulated property very fast. I look back to those days with pleasure. I was blest with everything that an honest heart could wish.
I had a large house and I gave permission to all sorts of people to come there and preach. Methodists, Baptists, Campbellites and Mormons all preached there when they desired to do so. In 1837 a man by the name of King, from Indiana, passed by, or came to my place, on the way to Missouri, to join the Mormons He had been a New Light, or Campbellite preacher. I invited him to stay at my place until the next Spring. I gave him provisions for his family, and he consented to and did stay with some time. Soon after that there was a Methodist meeting at my house. After the Methodist services were through I invited King to speak. He talked about half an hour on the first principles of the gospel as taught by Christ and his apostles, denouncing all other doctrines as spurious. This put an end to all other denominations preaching in my house. That was the first sermon I ever heard concerning Mormonism. The Winter before two elders, Durphy and Peter Dustan, stayed a few days with Hanford Stewart, a cousin of Levi Stewart, the bishop of Kanab. They preached in the neighborhood, but I did not attend or hear them preach. My wife and her mother went to hear them, and were much pleased with their doctrine. I was not a member of any church, and considered the religion of the day as merely the opinions of men who preached for hire and worldly gain. I believed in God and in Christ, but I did not see any denomination that taught the apostolic doctrine as set forth in the New Testament.
I read in the New Testament where the apostle Paul recommended his people to prove all things, then hold fast to that which is good; also that he taught that though an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel than this which ye have received, let him be accursed. This forbid me believing any doctrine that differed from that taught by Christ and his apostles. I wanted to belong to the true Church or none.
When King began to preach at my house I noticed that every other denomination opposed him. I was surprised at this. I could not see how he could injure them if they were right. I had been brought up as a strict Catholic. I was taught to look upon all sects, except the Catholic, with disfavor, and my opinion was that the Mormons and all others were apostates from the true Church; that the Mormon Church was made up of the offscourings of hell, or of apostates from the true Church. I then had not the most distant idea that the Mormons believed in the Old and New Testaments. I was astonished to hear King prove his religion from the Scriptures. I reflected. I determined, as every honest man should do, to fairly investigate his doctrines, and to do so with a prayerful heart. The more I studied the question, the more interested I became. I talked of the doctrine to nearly every man I met. The excitement soon became general, and King was invited to preach in many places.
In the meantime, Levi Stewart, one of my near neighbors, became interested in this religion, and went to Far West, Missouri, to investigate the question of Mormonism at head-quarters. He joined the Church there, and when he returned he brought with him the "Book of Mormon" and a monthly periodical called the Elder's Journal. By this time my anxiety was very great, and I determined to fathom the question to the bottom. My frequent conversations with Elder King served to carry me on to a conviction, at least, that the dispensation of the fullness of time would soon usher in upon the world. If such was the case I wished to know it, for the salvation of my never-dying soul was of far more important to me than all other earthly considerations. I regarded the heavenly boon of eternal life as a treasure of great price. I left off my frivolity and commenced to lead a more moral life. I then began trying to lay up treasure in Heaven, in my Father's rich store-house, and wished to become an heir of righteousness, to inherit in common with the faithful children the rich legacy of our Father's Kingdom.
A third child had been born to us, a daughter; we called her Sarah Jane. During that year our second child, Elizabeth Adaline, died of scarlet fever. The night she lay a corpse I finished reading the Book of Mormon. I never closed my eyes in sleep from the time I commenced until I finished the book. I read it after asking God to give me knowledge to know if it was genuine and of Divine authority. By careful examination I found that it was in strict accord with the Bible and the gospel therein contained. That it purported to have been given to another people, who then lived on this continent, as the Old and New Testaments had been given to the Israelites in Asia. I also found many passages in the Bible in support of the forthcoming of such a work, preparatory to the gathering of the remnant of the House of Israel, and the opening glory of the Latter Day Work, and the setting up of the Kingdom of God upon the earth for the reception of the Son of Man, the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth a thousand years, etc.; all of which, to me, was of great moment. My whole soul was absorbed in these things. My neighbor Stewart, who had just returned from Missouri, brought the most cheering and thrilling accounts of the power and manifestations of the Holy Spirit working with that people. That the spiritual gifts of the true believers in Christ, were enjoyed by all who lived faithfully and sought them. That there was no deception about it; that every one had a testimony for himself, and was not dependent upon another. That they had the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of those tongues. The power of healing the sick by the laying on of hands; prophesying, casting out devils and evil spirits, etc. All of which be declared, with words of soberness, to be true. Stewart had been my playmate and my companion in former years. His word was considered good by all, and it had great influence on we, and strengthened my conviction that the Book of Mormon was true - that it was a star opening the dispensation of the fullness of time.
We arrived at Far West, the then headquarters of the Mormon Church, about the fourth day of June, 1838. The country around there for some fifteen or twenty miles, each way, was settled by Mormons. I do not think any others lived within that distance. The Mormons who had been driven from Jackson, Ray and Clay counties, in 1833, settled in Caldwell and Daviess Counties.
The night after our arrival at Far West, there was a meeting to be held there. Stewart said to me, "Let us go up and hear them speak with new tongues and interpret the same, and enjoy the gifts of the gospel generally, for this is to be a prayer and testimony meeting. My reply was, "I want no signs; I believe the gospel they preach on principle and reason, not upon signs - its consistency is all I ask. All I want are natural, logical and reasonable arguments, to make up my mind from. Feeling in this way, I did not go to the meeting.
The Sunday after, I attended church in Far West Hall. The hall was crowded with people, so much so that I, with others, could not gain admittance to the building. I obtained standing room in one of the windows. I saw a man enter the house without uncovering his head. The prophet ordered the Brother of Gideon to put that man out, for his presumption in daring to enter and stand in the house of God without uncovering his head. This looked to me like drawing the lines pretty snug and close; however, I knew but little of the etiquette of high life, and much less about that of the kingdom of heaven. I looked upon Joseph Smith as a prophet of God - as one who held the keys of this last dispensation, and I hardly knew what to think about the rash manner in which the man was treated who had entered the house of God without taking his hat off. But this did not lessen my faith; it served to confirm it. I was fearful that I might in some way unintentionally offend the great and good man who stood as God's prophet on the earth to point out the way of salvation.
We remained at the house of elder Joseph Hunt, in Far West, several days. He was then a strong Mormon, and was afterwards first captain in the Mormon Battalion. He, as an elder in the Church, was a preacher of the gospel; all of his family were firm in the faith. Elder Hunt preached to me the necessity of humility and a strict obedience to the gospel requirements. through the servants of God. He informed me that the apostles and elders were our true teachers, and it was our duty to hear, learn and obey; that the spirit of God was very fine and delicate, and was easily grieved and driven from us; that the more humble we were, the more of the Holy Spirit we would enjoy.
After staying in Far West about a week, we moved about twenty miles, and settled on a stream called Marrowbone, at a place called afterwards Ambrosia. Sunday, June 17, 1888, I attended meeting. Samuel 11. Smith, a brother of the prophet, and elder Daniel Cathcart preached. After meeting, I and my wife were baptized by elder Cathcart, in Ambrosia, on Shady Grove creek, In Daviess county, Missouri. I was now a member of the Church, and expected to live in strict obedience to the requirements of the holy priesthood that ruled, governed and controlled it. I must do this in order to advance in the scale of intelligence unto thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers, and through faithfulness and fidelity to the cause, receive eternal increase in the mansions that would be prepared for me in my Father's kingdom.
My neighbor, Stewart, and myself each selected a place on the same stream, and near where his three brothers, Riley, Jackson and Urban, lived. Urban Stewart is now Treasurer of Beaver county, Utah. On my location there was a splendid spring of pure, cold water; also a small lake fed by springs. This lake was full of fish, such as perch, bass, pickerel, mullet and catfish. It was surrounded by a grove of heavy timber, mostly hickory and oak, in nearly all their varieties. We could have fish sufficient for use every day in the year, if we desired. My home on Ambrosia creek reminded me much of the one I had left on Luck creek, Illinois; but it was on more rolling land, and much healthier than the Illinois home had proven to us. I knew I could soon replace, by labor, all the comfort I had abandoned when I started to seek my salvation. I felt that I had greatly benefitted my condition by seeking first the kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness; all else, I felt, would be added unto me. But still I knew I must be frugal, industrious, and use much care. I improved my farm as rapidly as I could, and was soon so fixed that we were comfortable. Meetings were held three times a week; also prayer and testimony meetings, at the latter sacrament, was administered. In these meetings, as well as in everything I was called upon to do, I tried hard to give satisfaction. I was a devout follower from the first. Whatever duty was assigned me, I tried to discharge with a willing heart and ready hand. This disposition, on my part, coupled with my views of duty, my promptness and punctuality, soon brought me to the notice of the leading men of the Church. The motives of the people who composed my neighborhood, were pure; they were all sincere in their devotions, and tried to square their actions through life by the golden rule - Do unto others as you would they should do unto you. The word of a Mormon was then good for all it was pledged to or for. I was proud to be an associate with such an honorable people.
Twenty miles north-east of my home was the settlement of Adam-on-Diamond. It was on the east bank of Grand river, near the Three Forks. Lyman White, one of the twelve apostles, was president of that Stake of Zion. In July, 1888, Levi Stewart and myself concluded to visit the settlement of Adam-on-Diamond. We remained over night at the house of Judge Mourning. He was a Democrat. He told us that, at the approaching election, the Whigs were going to cast their votes, at the outside precincts, early in the day, and then rush in force to the town of Gallatin, the county-seat of Daviess county, and prevent the Mormons from voting. The Judge requested us to inform our people of the facts in the case, and for us to see that the Mormons went to the polls in force, and prepared to resist and overcome all violence that might be offered. He said the Whigs had no right to deprive the Mormons of their right of suffrage, that they had a right to cast their votes as free and independent Americans. I knew that the two political parties were about equally divided in Davies county, and that the Mormons held the balance of power, and would turn the scale which ever way they desired.
I had heard of Judge Mourning as a sharp political worker, and I then thought he was trying to get up and carry out an electioneering job for his party; therefore I paid but little attention to what he said.
We visited our friends at Adam-on-Diamond, and returned home. While on this trip I formed the acquaintance of Solomon McBrier, and purchased some cattle from him. He wished to sell me quite a number, but as I did not wish to be involved in debt, I refused to take them, for I had a perfect horror of being in debt, for I knew that when a man was in debt he was in nearly every respect a slave, and that if I got in debt it would worry me and keep my mind from that quiet repose so necessary for contemplating the principal beauties of nature, and communing with the Spirit regarding holy subjects.
On Monday, the 6th day of August, 1838, the greater portion of our people in the settlements near me, went to Gallatin to attend the election. In justice to truth I must state, that just before the general election of August, 1838, a general notice was given for all the brethren of Davies county to meet at Adam-on-Diamond. Every man obeyed the call. At that meeting all the males over eighteen years of age, were organized into a military body, according to the law of the priesthood, and called "The Host of Israel. The first rank was a captain with ten men under him; next was a captain of fifty, that is he had five companies of ten; next, the captain of a hundred, or of ten captains and companies of ten. The entire membership of the Mormon Church was then organized in the same way. This, as I was then informed, was the first organization of the military force of the Church. It was so organized at that time by command of God, as revealed through the Lord's Prophet, Joseph Smith. God commanded Joseph Smith to place the Host of Israel in a situation for defense against the enemies of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
At the same Conference another organization was perfected, or then first formed - it was called the "Danites." The members of this order were placed under the most sacred obligations that language could invent. They were sworn to stand by and sustain each other. Sustain, protect, defend, and obey the leaders of the Church, under any and all circumstances unto death; and to disobey the orders of the leaders of the Church, or divulge the name of a Danite to an outsider, or to make public any of the secrets of the order of Danites, was to be punished with death. And I can say of a truth, many have paid the penalty for failing to keep their covenants. They had signs and tokens for use and protection. The token of recognition was such that it could be readily understood, and it served as a token of distress by which they could know each other from their enemies, although they were entire strangers to each other. When the sign was given it must be responded to and obeyed, even at the risk or certainty of death. The Danite that would refuse to respect the token, and comply with all its requirements, was stamped with dishonor, infamy, shame, disgrace, and his fate for cowardice and treachery was death.
This sign or token of distress is made by placing the right hand on the right side of the face, with the points of the fingers upwards, shoving the hand upwards until the ear is snug up between the thumb and fore-finger.
I here pause, and ask myself the question, "Am I justified in making the above statement? I ask those who think I am not fully justified in telling all I know, to wait until they read the whole story; how I have been ordered, how I have obeyed orders, and how treacherously I have been used and deserted by the Church and its leaders. It is my purpose and intention, for such is my certain duty, to free my mind, and bring to light some of the secret workings, some of the deeds of darkness, that have been the result of the evil teachings of aspiring men, who have tried to couple their vile acts with the Gospel of Truth; and endeavored, alas! too successfully, to palm it off on the credulous and weaker-minded brethren, as a religious duty they owed to God, to unquestioningly obey every order of the Priesthood.
To return to the election at Gallatin: - The brethren all attended the election. All things seemed to pass off quietly, until some of the Mormons went up to the polls to vote. I was then lying on the grass with McBrier and a number of others. As the Mormons went to the polls, a drunken brute by the name of Richard Weldon, stepped up to a little Mormon preacher, by the name of Brown, and said:
"Are you a Mormon preacher, sir?"
"Yea, sir, I am."
"Do you Mormons believe in healing the sick by laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, and casting out devils?"
"We do," said Brown.
Weldon then said, "You are a d-d liar. Joseph Smith is a d-d impostor."
With this, he attacked Brown, and beat him severely. Brown did not resent it, but tried to reason with him; but without effect. At this time a Mormon, by the name of Hyrum Nelson, attempted to pull Weldon off of Brown, when he was struck by half a dozen men on the head, shoulders and face. He was soon forced to the ground. Just then, Riley Stewart struck Weldon across the back of the head with a billet of oak lumber, and broke his skull. Weldon fell nearly on me, and appeared lifeless. The blood flowed freely from the wound. Immediately the fight became general.
FIGHT AT GALLATIN, MISSOURI, BETWEEN MORMONS AND "GENTILES."
Gallatin was a new town, with about ten houses, three of which were saloons. The town was on the bank of Grand river and heavy timber came near the town, which stood in a little arm of the prairie. Close to the polls, there was a lot of oak timber, which had been brought there to be riven into shakes or shingles, leaving the heart, taken from each shingle-block, lying thereon the ground. These hearts were three square, four feet long, weighed about seven pounds, and made a very dangerous, yet handy weapon; and when used by an enraged man they were truly a class of instrument to be dreaded. When Stewart fell, the Mormons sprang to the pile of oak hearts, and each man, taking one for use, rushed into the crowd. The Mormons were yelling, "Save him!" and the settlers yelled, "Kill him; d-n him!" The sign of distress was given by the Danites, and all rushed forward, determined to save Stewart, or die with him. One of the mob stabbed Stewart in the shoulder. He rose and ran, trying to escape, but was again surrounded and attacked by a large number of foes. The Danite sign of distress was again given by John L. Butler, one of the captains of the Host of Israel. Butler was a brave, true man, and a leader that it was a pleasure to follow where duty called. Seeing the sign, I sprang to my feet and armed myself with one of the oak sticks. I did this because I was a Danite, and my oaths that I had taken required immediate action on my part, in support of the one giving the sign. I ran into the crowd. As I reached it, I saw Nelson down on the ground fighting for life. He was surrounded by a large number, who were seeking to murder him, but he had a loaded whip, the lash wrapped around his hand, and using the handle, which was loaded with several pounds of lead, as a weapon of defense. He was using it with effect, for he had men piled around him in all shapes. As I approached, a man sprang to his feet. He had just been knocked down by Nelson. As the man was rising, Nelson gave him a blow across the loins with the handle of his whip, which had the effect of straitening out the villain on the grass, and rendered him an inoffensive spectator during the remainder of the play. Captain Butler was then a stranger to me, and until I saw him give the Danite sign of distress, I had believed him to be one of the Missouri ruffians, who were our enemies. In this contest I came near committing a serious mistake. I had raised my club to strike a man, when a Missourian rushed at him, and struck him with a loaded whip, and called him a d-d Mormon. The man then gave the sign, and I knew how to act.
Capt. Butler was attacked from all sides, but, being a powerful man, he used his oak club with effect and knocked a man down at each blow that he struck, and each man that felt the weight of his weapon was out of the fight for that day at least. Many of those that he came in contact with had to be carried from the field for surgical aid. In the battle, which was spirited, but short in duration, nine men had their skulls broken, and many others were seriously injured in other ways. The severe treatment of the mob by the Danites, soon ended the battle. Three hundred men were present at this difficulty, only thirty of whom were Mormons, and only eight Mormons took part in the fight.
I was an entire stranger to all who were engaged in the affray, except Stewart, but I had seen the sign, and, like Sampson, when leaning against the pillar, I felt the power of God nerve my arm for the fray. It helps a man a great deal in a fight to know that God is on his side. After the violence had ceased, Captain Butler called the Mormons to him, and as he stood on a pile of building timber, he made a speech to the brethren. He said that his ancestors. had served in the war of the Revolution to establish a free and independent government - one in which all men had equal rights and privileges; that he professed to be half white and free born, and claimed a right to enjoy his constitutional privileges, and would have his rights as a citizen, if he had to fight for them; that as to his religion, it was a matter between his God and himself, and was no man's business; that he would vote, and would die before he would be driven from the polls. Several of the Gentile leaders then requested us to lay down our clubs and go and vote. This Captain Butler refused, saying, "We will not molest any one who lets us alone, but we will not risk ourselves again in that crowd without our clubs." The result was, the Mormons all voted. It is surprising what a few resolute men can do when united. After voting, the Mormons returned home, fearing additional violence if they remained.
It may be well for purposes of explanation to refer back to the celebration of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1888, at Far West. That day Joseph Smith made known to the people the substance of a revelation he had before received from God. It was to the effect that all the Saints throughout the land were required to sell their possessions, gather all their money together, and send an agent to buy up all the land in the region round about Far West, and get a patent for the land from the Government, then deed it over to the Church; then every man should come up there to the land of their promised inheritance and consecrate what they had to the Lord. In return the Prophet would set apart a tract of land for each Saint - the amount to correspond with the number of the Saint's family - and this land should be for each Saint an everlasting inheritance. In this way the people could, in time, redeem Zion (Jackson County) without the shedding of blood. It was also revealed that unless this was done, in accordance with God's demand, as required by Him in the Revelation then given to the people through his Prophet, Joseph Smith, the Saints would be driven from State to State, from city to city, from one abiding place to another, until the members would die and waste away, leaving but a remnant of the Saints to return and receive their inheritance in Zion (Jackson County) in the Last Days. Sidney Rigdon was then the mouth-piece of Joseph Smith, as Aaron was of Moses in olden time. Rigdon told the Saints that day that it they did not come up as true Saints and consecrate their property to the Lord, by laying it down at the feet of the apostles, they would in a short time be compelled to consecrate and yield it up to the Gentiles. That if the Saints would be united as one man, in this consecration of their entire wealth to the God of Heaven, by giving it up to the control of the Apostolic Priesthood, then there would be no further danger to the Saints; they would no more be driven from their homes on account of their faith and holy works, for the Lord had revealed to Joseph Smith that He would then fight the battles of His children, and save them from all their enemies. That the Mormon people would never be accepted as the children of God unless they were united as one man, in temporal as well as spiritual affairs, for Jesus had said unless ye are one, ye are not mine; that oneness must exist to make the Saints the accepted children of God. That if the Saints would yield obedience to the commands of the Lord all would be well, for the Lord had confirmed these promises by a revelation which He had given to Joseph Smith, in which it was said: "I, the Lord, will fight the battles of my people, and if your enemies shall come up against you, spare them, and if they shall come up against you again, then shall ye spare them also; even unto the third time shall ye spare them; but if they come up against you the fourth time, I, the Lord, will deliver them into your hands, to do with them as seemeth good unto you; but if you will then spare them it shall be accounted unto you for righteousness.
The words of the apostle, and the promises of God, as then revealed to me, made a deep impression on my mind, as it did upon all who heard the same. We that had given up all else for the sake of the gospel, felt willing to do anything on earth that it was possible to do, to obtain the protection of God, and have and receive His smile of approbation. Those who, like me, had full faith in the teachings of God, as revealed by Joseph Smith, His Prophet, were willing to comply with every order, and to obey every wish of the priesthood. The majority of the people felt like Ananias and Sapphira, they dare not trust all to God and His Prophet. They felt that their money was as safe in their own possession as it was when held by the Church authorities. A vote of the people was then had to determine the question whether they would consecrate their wealth to the Church or not. The vote was taken and was unanimous for the consecration. I soon found out that the people had voted as I have often known them to do in Mormon meetings since then, they vote to please the priesthood, then act to suit themselves. I never thought that was right or honest; men should vote their sentiments, but they do not at all times do so. I have been the victim of such hyprocrites, as the sequel will show.
The vote, as I said, was taken. It was done by a show of hands, but not a show of hearts. By the readiness with which all hands went up in favor of consecration, it was declared that the people were of a truth God's children, and as such, would be protected by him. The Prophet and all his priesthood were jubilant, and could hardly contain themselves; they were so happy to see the people such dutiful Saints.
Sidney Rigdon, on that day, delivered an oration, in which he said the Mormons were, as a people, loyal to the government, and obedient to the laws, and as such, they were entitled to the protection of the government, in common with all other denominations, and were justified in claiming as full protection, in their religious matters, as the people of any other sect. That the Mormons had long suffered from mob rule and violence, but would no longer submit to the mob or unjust treatment that had so long followed them. Now and forever more would they meet force with force. "We have been driven from Kirkland, Ohio, from Jackson County, the true Zion, and now we will maintain our rights, defend our homes, our wives and children, and our property from mob rule and violence. If the Saints are again attacked, we will carry on a war of extermination against our enemies, even to their homes and firesides; until we despoil those who have despoiled us, and give no quarter until our enemies are wasted away. We will unfurl to the breeze the flag of our nation, and under that banner of freedom we will maintain our rights, or die in the attempt. At the end of each sentence Rigdon was loudly cheered; and when he closed his oration, I believed the Mormons could successfully resist the world. But this feeling of confidence faded away as soon as a second thought entered my mind. I then feared that the days of liberty for our people had been numbered. First, I feared the people would not give up all their worldly possessions, to be disposed of by and at the will and pleasure of three men. In the second place, I doubted the people being so fully regenerated as to entitle them to the full and unconditional support and favor of God, that had been promised through the Revelation to Joseph Smith, in favor of the Latter Day Saints. I knew that God was able and willing to do all He had promised, but I feared that the people still loved worldly pleasures so well that God's mercy would be rejected by them, and all would be lost.
About three days after the proclamation of Rigdon had been made, there was a storm of rain, during which the thunder and lightnings were constant and terrible. The liberty pole in the town was struck by lightning, and shivered to atoms. This evidence from the God of nature also convinced me that the Mormon people's liberties, in that section of the country, were not to be of long duration.
THE SAINTS ARE BESET WITH TROUBLES.
THE Saints did not consecrate their possessions as they had recently voted they would do; they began to reflect, and the final determination was that they could manage their worldly effects better than any one of the apostles; in fact better than the Prophet and the priesthood combined. Individual Saints entered large tracts of land in their own names, and thereby secured all of the most desirable land round about Far West. These landed proprietors became the worst kind of extortionists, and forced the poor Saints to pay them large advances for every acre of land that was settled, and nothing could be called free from the control of the money power of the rich and head-strong Mormons who had defied the revelations and wishes of God.
So things went from bad to worse, until the August election at Gallatin. The difficulty on that day had brought the Church and Saints to a stand-still; business was paralyzed; alarm seized the stoutest hearts, and dismay was visible in every countenance. The prophet soon issued an order to gather all the people at Far West and Adam-on-Diamond, under the leadership of Col. Lyman White, for the purpose of protecting the people from mob violence, and to save the property from lawless thieves who were roaming the country in armed bands.
The Gentiles and Mormons hastened to the executive of the State. The Gentiles asked for a military force to protect the settlers from Mormon violence. The Mormons requested an investigating committee to inquire into the whole subject and suggest means necessary for future safety to each party.
Also they demanded military protection from the mobs and outlaws that infested the country. The Governor sent some troops to keep order. They were stationed about midway between Far West and Adam-on-Diamond. A committee was also appointed and sent to Gallatin to inquire into the recent disturbances. This committee had full power to send for witnesses, make arrests of persons accused of crime, and generally to do all things necessary for a fall and complete investigation of the entire affair. Many arrests were made at the request of the committee. The persons so arrested were taken before Justice Black, of Daviess County, and examined; witnesses were examined for both parties, and much hard and false swearing was done on both sides. After a long and fruitless examination the committee adjourned, leaving the military to look after matters until something would turn up to change the feeling of danger then existing. It was thought by the committee that all would soon become quiet and that peace would soon be restored. The Gentiles of the country were dissatisfied with the action of the committee, and were in no way disposed to accept peace on any terms; they determined that, come what would, the Mormons should be driven from the State of Missouri. Letters were written by the Gentiles around Far West to all parts of the State, and elsewhere, giving the most fearful accounts of Mormon atrocities. Some of the writers said it was useless to send less than three or four men for each Mormon, because the Mormons felt sure of Heaven if they fell fighting, hence they did not fear death; that they fought with the desperation of devils. Such reports spread like wild-fire throughout Northern Missouri, and thence all over the States of the Mississippi Valley, and resulted in creating a feeling of the most intense hatred in the breasts of all the Gentiles against the Mormons. Companies of volunteers were raised and armed in every town through Northern Missouri, and commenced concentrating in the vicinity of the Mormon settlements. The troops sent by the Governor to guard the settlers and preserve order soon took part with the mob, and all show for legal protection was gone, so far as Mormons were concerned. I had built a cabin in the valley of Adam-on-Diamond, at the point where the Prophet said Adam blessed his posterity after being driven from the Garden of Eden. The condition of the country being such that we could not labor on our farms, I concluded to go and hunt for wild honey. Several of my neighbors agreed to join me in my bee hunt, and we started with our teams, and traveled northeasterly until we reached the heavy timber at the three forks of Grand River. We camped on the middle fork of Grand River, and had fine success in securing honey? We had been out at camp only two or three days when we discovered signs of armed men rushing through the country. On the 3rd of October, 1888, we saw a large number of men that we knew were enemies to the Mormons, and on their way, as we supposed, to attack our people at the settlements. I concluded to go and meet them, and find out for certain what they were really intending to do. I was forced to act with caution, for, it they discovered that we were Mormons, our lives would be taken by the desperate men composing the mob who called themselves State volunteers.
I took my gun and carried a bucket on my arm and started out to meet the people, to learn their intentions. I met them soon after they had broken camp on Sunday morning. As soon as I saw them I was certain they were out hunting for Mormons. I concluded to pass myself off as an outsider, the better to learn their history. My plan worked admirably. I stood my ground until a company of eighteen men rode up to me, and said:
"You move early."
"Not so d-d early, gentlemen; I am not moving any sooner than you are. What are you all doing in this part of the country, armed to the teeth as you are? Are you hunting for Indians?
"No," said they, "but we wish to know where you are from, and what you are doing."
"I am from Illinois; there are four of us who have come out here to look up a good location to settle. We stopped on Marrowbone, and did think of staying there, until the settlers and Mormons got into a row at Gallatin, on election day. After that we concluded to strike out and see what this country looked like. I am now going to cut a bee tree that I found yesterday evening, and I brought my gun along so that if I met an old buck I could secure some venison, to eat with my honeycomb.
As I got through my statement, they all huddled around me, and commenced to relate the horrors of Mormonism. They advised me to have nothing to do with the Mormons, for said they, "As old Joe Smith votes, so will every Mormon in the country vote, and when they get into a fight, they are just the same way, they stick together; when you attack one of the crew you bring every one of them after you like a nest of hornets.
I said I had heard a little of the fuss at Gallatin, but did not suppose I had got the right of the story, and would be glad if they would tell me just how it was. I should like to learn the acts from an eye witness. Several of the men spoke up and said they were there and saw it all. They then told the story, and did the Mormons more justice than I expected from them.
They said, among other things, that there was a large raw-boned man there, who spoke in tongues, and that when the fight commenced he said, "Charge Danites," and it ever you saw men pitch in like devils, they did it there. Our men fell thick as hail wherever those Danites charged with their clubs.
They then said the Mormons must leave the country, and if we do not make them do so now, they will be so strong that we cannot compel them to go, unless we force them away; they will be so strong in a few years that they will rule the country as they please. That another band of men would come along soon, and they would then go through the Mormon settlements, and burn up every house, and lynch every d-d Mormon they could find. That the militia had been sent to keep order in Daviess County, but would soon be gone, and the work of destroying the Mormons in general would begin. I said, "Give them h-I, and if they have done as you say they have, pay them in their own coin."
The company then passed on, and I returned with a heavy heart to my friends. I advised taking an immediate start for home, and in a few minutes we were on our way. While coming up from home we had found four bee trees, that we left standing, intending to cut them down and get the honey as we went back. When we got on the prairie, which was about eight miles across, the men with me wanted to go and get the honey. I was fearful that the people I had met in the morning would attack the settlements, and I wanted to go directly home and let trees and honey alone.
While we were talking the matter over, a single black bird came to us apparently in great distress. It flew around each one of us, and would alight on the head of each one of our horses, and especially on my horses' heads, and it even came and alighted on my hat, and would squeak like it was in pain, and turn its feathers up, and acted like it wished to warn us of danger. Then it flew off towards the settlements where I wished to go. All admitted that they were strange actions for a bird, but still insisted on going to cut the bee trees. I was persuaded to go with them. We had gone a quarter of a mile further, when the black bird returned to us and went through the same performances as before, and again flew off toward the settlement. This was to me a warning to go home at once, that, there was danger there to my family. I then proposed that we all join In prayer. We did so, and I prayed to the Author of our existence, and asked that if it was his will for us to go home at once, and it the black bird had been sent as a warning messenger, to let it return again, and I would follow it. We then traveled on some two miles, when the messenger returned the third time and appeared, if possible, more determined than before to turn us towards home. I turned my team and started, as straight as I could go, for Adam-on-Diamond. As we passed over the prairie we saw the smoke rising from many farms and houses in the vicinity of where we had left our bee trees. This smoke showed us that our enemies were at work, and that had we kept on in the course we were first intending to travel we would have fallen into the hands of the lawless mob and lost our lives. Before we reached home the news of the attack upon the settlements had reached there. It was also reported, and we afterwards learned, that the report was true, that many of the Mormon settlers had been tied to trees and fearfully whipped with hickory withes, some of them being horribly mangled by the mob. This conduct on the part of the Gentiles roused every Mormon to action, and the excitement was very great. Joseph Smith, the Prophet, was sent for. In the meantime Col. White called together every man and boy that could carry arms. When the forces were assembled Col. White made a war speech. As he spoke he stood by his fine brown horse. There was a bear skin on his saddle. He had a red handkerchief around his head, regular Indian fashion, with the knot in front; bare beaded, in his shirt sleeves, with collar open, showing his naked breast. He held a large cutlass in his right hand. His manner of address struck terror to his enemies, while it charged his brethren with enthusiastic zeal and forced them to believe they were invincible and bullet proof. We were about three hundred and seventy-five strong. I stood near Col. White while he was speaking, and I judge of its effect upon others by the way it affected me.
While our Colonel was in the midst of his speech the aid-de-camp of the militia Colonel was sent with a dispatch to Col. White, to the effect that the militia had become mutinous and could no longer be controlled, but were going to join the mob; that the Colonel would disband his forces, and he would then go and report to the Governor the true condition of the country; that Col. White must take and make use of all the means in his power to protect the people from the mob, for the government officers were powerless to aid him. The aid did not deliver his message, for as he rode up close to where Col. White was standing speaking to his men, he stopped and listened a short time; then wheeled his horse and rode back to the militia camp and reported that Col. White had 15,000 men under arms, in battle array, and would be upon their camp in less than two hours; that he was then making a speech to the army, and that it was the most exciting speech he had ever listened to in his life; that tie meant war and that of the most fearful kind; and that the only safety for their forces was in instant retreat. The soldiers broke camp and left in haste. I cannot say that the Colonel commanding the militia was alarmed, or that he fled through fear of being overcome, but it suited him to leave there, for he was anxious to prevent a collision between his troops and the men under Col. White.
The Prophet, Joseph Smith, when informed of the danger of the settlers from mob violence, sent Maj. Seymour Brunson, of Far West, with fifty men, to protect the settlers who lived on the two forks of the Grand River. Col. White kept his men in readiness for action. A strong guard was posted round the settlement; a point was agreed upon, to which place all were to hasten in case of alarm. This point of meeting was east of the town, under the bluffs, on the main road leading from Mill Port to Adam-on-Diamond. This road ran between the fields and bluff.
We expected to be attacked every hour. A few nights afterwards the alarm was given, and every man rushed to the field. When I reached the command, I found everything in confusion. The officer in command tried to throw two companies across the road, but the firing was heavy and constant from the opposing forces, who had selected a strong point for the purpose of attack and defence. The flash of the rifles, and the ringing reports that echoed through the hills at each discharge of the guns, added to the confusion, and soon forced the Mormons to take up their position in the fence corners and elsewhere, so they could be in a measure protected from the bullets of the enemy. Soon there was order in our ranks, and we were prepared to dislodge our opponents or die in the attempt, when two men came at the full speed of their horses, shouting, "Peace, peace, cease firing, it is our friends, etc. Chapman Duncan, the Adjutant of Col. White, was the one who shouted peace, etc. We were then informed that the men we had taken for a part of the Gentile mob were no other than the command of Maj. Brunson, who had been out on the Three Forks of Grand River, to defend the settlers, and that he had been ordered back to the main body, or any of the Hosts of Israel; that they had intended to stop at Mill Port, but finding it deserted, they concluded to alarm the troops at Adam-on-Diamond, so as to learn whether they would fight or not. I admit that I was much pleased to learn that danger was over, and that we were facing friends and not enemies; yet I was mad to think any men would impose upon us in that way. The experiment was a dangerous one, and likely to be very serious in its consequences. The other men with me were equally mad at the insult offered by those who had been so foolish as to question our bravery.
By the efforts of our officers all was soon explained, and amid peals of laughter we returned to our homes.
The withdrawal of the State militia was the signal for the Gentiles and Mormons to give vent to the worst or their inclinations. The Mormons, at command of the Prophet, at once abandoned their homes, taking what could be carried with them, and hastened to either Far West or Adam-on-Diamond for protection and safety. Some few refused to obey orders, and they afterwards paid the penalty for disobedience by giving up their lives to the savage Gentiles who attacked and well nigh exterminated them. Armed men roamed in bands all over Caldwell, Carroll, and Daviess Counties; both Mormons and Gentiles were under arms, and doing injury to each other when occasion offered. The burning of houses, farms, and stacks of grain was. generally indulged in by each party. Lawlessness prevailed, and pillage was the rule.
The Prophet, Joseph Smith, said it was a civil war; that by the rules of war each party was justified in spoiling his enemy. This opened the door to the evil disposed, and men of former quiet became perfect demons in their efforts to spoil and waste sway the enemies of the Church. I then found that men are creatures of circumstances, and that the occasion calls forth the men needed for each enterprise. I also soon saw that it was natural inclination of men to steal, and convert to their own use that which others possessed. What perplexed me most was to see that religion had not the power to subdue that passion in man, but that at the first moment when the restrictions of the Church were withdrawn, the most devout men in our community acted like they had served a lifetime in evil, and were natural-born thieves.
But the men who stole then were not really honest, for I spotted every man that I knew to steal during the troubles in Missouri and Illinois, and I have found that they were never really converted, were never true Saints, but they used their pretence of religion as a cloak to cover their evil deeds. I have watched their rise and fall in the Church, and I know from their fate that honesty is the only true policy.
Being young, stout, and having plenty of property, I fitted myself out in first-class style. I had good horses and plenty of the best of arms. I joined in the general patrol duty, and took part in daily raids made under either Major Brunson or Capt. Alexander McRay, now Bishop of a Ward in Salt Lake City. I saw much of what was being done by both parties.
I also made several raids under Captain Jonathan Dunham, alias Black Hawk. I remember one incident that was amusing at the time, as it enabled us to determine what part of our forces would fight on the field and face the enemy, and also those who preferred to fight with their mouths.
Early in the morning, while Maj. Brunson's men were marching along, shivering in the cold-for it was a dark, cloudy morning, late in October, 1888 - we saw a company of horsemen some three miles away. We concluded they were Missourians, and made for them at full speed. They halted and appeared willing to fight us when our command got within three hundred yards of them. Many of our pulpit braves found out all at once that they must stop and dismount, to fix their saddles or for some other reason. The remainder of us rode on until within one hundred and fifty yards of the other force, and were drawn up in line of battle. Maj. Brunson rode forward and hailed them, saying,
"Who are you?"
"Capt. McRay," was the reply. "Who are you?"
They met and shook hands. Seeing this the pulpit braves rushed up in great haste and took their places in the ranks, and lamented because we did not have an enemy to overcome.
So it is through life - a coward is generally a liar; those men were cowards, and lied when they pretended they would like to fight. All cowards are liars, but many liars are brave men.
While I was engaged with the Mormon troops in ranging over the country, the men that I was with took a large amount of loose property, but did not while I was with them burn any houses or murder any men. Yet we took what property we could find, especially provisions, fat cattle and arms and ammunition. But still many houses were burned and much damage was done by the Mormons, and they captured a howitzer and many guns from the Gentiles. Frequent attacks were made upon the Mormon settlements. The Mormons made an attack on Gallatin one night, and carried off much plunder. I was not there with them, but I talked often with them and learned all the facts about it. The town was burnt down, and everything of value, including the goods in two stores, was carried off by the Mormons. I often escaped being present with the troops on their thieving expeditions, by loaning my horses and arms to others who liked that kind of work better than I did. Unless I had adopted that course I could never have escaped from being present with the Hosts of Israel in all their lawless acts, for I was one of the regular Host, and I could not escape going when ordered, unless I furnished a substitute, which sometimes was accepted, but not always. A company went from Adam-on-Diamond and burned the house and buildings belonging to my friend McBrier. Every article of moveable property was taken by the troops; he was utterly ruined. This man had been a friend to me and many others of the brethren; he was an honorable man, but his good character and former acts of kindness had no effect on those who were working, as they pretended, to build up the Kingdom of God. The Mormons brought in every article that could be used, and much that was of no use or value was hauled to Adam-on-Diamond. Men stole simply for the love of stealing. Such inexcusable acts of lawlessness had the effect to arouse every Gentile in the three Counties of Caldwell, Carroll and Daviess, as well as to bring swarms of armed Gentiles from other localities.
Lyman White, with three hundred men, was called to defend Far West. I went with his command. The night White reached Far West, the battle of Crooked River was fought. Captain David Patton, alias Fear Not, one of the twelve apostles, was sent out by the prophet with fifty men, to attack a body of Missourians, who were camping on the Crooked River. Captain Patton's men were nearly all, if not every one of them, Danites. The attack was made just before daylight in the morning. Captain Fear Not wore a white blanket overcoat, and led the attacking party. He was a brave, impulsive man. He rushed into the thickest of the fight, regardless of danger - really seeking it to show his men that God would shield him from all harm. But he counted, without just reason, upon being invincible, for a ball soon entered his body, passing through his hips and cutting his bladder. The wound was fatal; but he kept on his feet, and led his men some time before yielding to the effects of the wound. The Gentiles said afterwards that Captain Patton told his men to charge in the name of Lazarus, "Charge, Danites, charge!" and that as soon as he uttered the command, which distinguished him, they gave the Danite Captain a commission with powder and ball, and sent him on a mission to preach to the spirits that were in prison. In this battle several men were killed and wounded on both sides. I do not remember all of the names of the Danites that were killed, but I do remember that a man by the name of Banion was killed, and one by the name of Jas. Holbrook was wounded. I knew a man by the name of Tarwater, on the Gentile side, that was cut up fearfully. He was taken Prisoner. The Danites routed the Gentiles, who fled in every direction. The night being dark, Jas. Holbrook and another Danite met, and had a hand-to-hand fight, in which they cut each other fearfully with their swords before they discovered that they were friends. After the Gentiles retreated, the Mormons started for Far West, taking Tarwater along as a prisoner. After traveling several miles, they halted in a grove of timber, and released Tarwater, telling him he was free to go home. He started off, and when he was some forty yards from the Mormons, Parley P. Pratt, then one of the Twelve Apostles, stepped up to a tree, laid his gun up by the side of the tree, took deliberate aim, and shot Tarwater. He fell and lay still. The Mormons, believing he was dead, went on and left him lying where he fell. Tarwater came to, and reached home, where he was taken care of, and soon recovered from his wounds. He afterwards testified in court against the Mormons that he knew, and upon his evidence Parley P. Pratt was imprisoned in the Richmond jail, in 1839.
I must remind the reader that I am writing in prison, and am not allowed to have a book of reference, and as most of my private writings and journals have been heretofore delivered to the agents of Brigham Young, and all have been destroyed, or at least kept from me, I am forced to rely on my memory for names and dates, and if I make mistakes in either, this must be my excuse.
THE MORMON WAR IN MISSOURI.
AFTER 1844, it was my habit to keep a journal, in which I wrote at length all that I considered worthy of remembering. Most of my journals, written up to 1860, were called for by Brigham Young, under the plea that he wished the Church historian to write up the Church history, and wished my journal to aid him in making the history perfect. As these journals contained many things not intended for the public eye, and especially very much concerning the crimes of Mormon leaders in Southern Utah and elsewhere, and all I knew of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and what led to it, they were never returned to me. I suppose they were put out of the way, perhaps burned, for these journals gave an account of many dark deeds.
I was at Far West when the Danites returned. They brought Captain Patton with them. He died that night, and his death spread a mantle of gloom over the entire community. It robbed many of their fond hope that they were invincible. If Fear Not could be killed, who could claim immunity from the missiles of death, hurled by Gentile weapons?
I admit up to this time I firmly believed what the Prophet and his apostles had said on that subject. I had considered that I was bullet proof, that no Gentile ball could ever harm me, or any Saint, and I had believed that a Danite could not be killed by Gentile hands. I thought that one Danite could chase a thousand Gentiles, and two could put ten thousand to flight. Alas! my dream of security was over. One of our mighty men had fallen, and that by Gentile hands. My amazement at the fact was equal to my sorrow for the death of the great warrior apostle. I had considered that all the battles between Danites and Gentiles would end like the election fight at Gallatin, and that the only ones to be injured would be the Gentiles. We had been promised and taught by the Prophet and his priesthood that henceforth God would fight our battles, and I looked as a consequence for a bloodless victory on the side of the Lord, and that nothing but disobedience to the teachings of the priesthood could render a Mormon subject to injury from Gentile forces. I believed as our leaders taught us, that all our sufferings and persecutions, were brought upon us by the all-wise God of Heaven, as chastisement to bring us together in unity of faith and strict obedience to the requirements of the Gospel; and the feeling was general, that all our sufferings were the result of individual sin, and not the fault of our leaders and spiritual guides. We, as members of the Church, had no right to question any act of our superiors; to do so wounded the Spirit of God, and lead to our own loss and confusion.
I was thunderstruck to hear Joseph Smith, the apostle, say at the funeral of Capt. Patton that the Mormons fell by the missiles of death the same as other men. He also said that the Lord was, angry with the people, for they had been unbelieving and faithless; they had denied the Lord the use of their earthly treasures, and placed their affections upon worldly things more than they had upon heavenly things; that to expect God's favor we must blindly trust him; that if the Mormons would wholly trust in God the windows of heaven would be opened and a shower of blessings sent upon the people; that all the people could contain of blessings would be given as a reward for obedience to the will of God as made known to mankind through the Prophet of the ever-living God; that the Mormons, if faithful, obedient and true followers of the advice of their leaders, would soon enjoy all the wealth of the earth; that God would consecrate the riches of the Gentiles to the Saints. This and much more he said to induce the people to obey the will of the priesthood. I believed all he said, for he supported it by quotations from Scripture, and it I believed the Bible, as I did most implicitly, I could not help believing in Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God in these last days. Joseph Smith declared that he was called of God and given power and authority from heaven to do God's will; that he had received the keys of the holy priesthood from the apostles Peter, James and John, and had been dedicated, set apart and anointed as the prophet, seer and revelator; sent to open the dispensation of the fullness of time, according to the words of the apostles; that he was charged with the restoration of the house of Israel, and to gather the Saints from the four corners of the earth to the land of promise, Zion, the Holy Land (Jackson County), and setting up the kingdom of God prepatory to the second coming of Christ in the last days.
Every Mormon, it true to his faith, believed as fully in Joseph Smith and his holy character as they did that God existed.
Joseph Smith was a most extraordinary man; he was rather large in stature, some six feet two inches in height, well built, though a little stoop-shouldered, prominent and well-developed features, a Roman nose, light chestnut hair, upper lip full and rather protruding, chin broad and square, an eagle eye, and on the whole there was something in his manner and appearance that was bewitching and winning; his countenance was that of a plain, honest man, full of benevolence and philanthropy and void of deceit or hypocrisy. He was resolute and firm of purpose, strong as most men in physical power, and all who say were forced to admire him, as he then looked and existed.
(The Founder and first Prophet of the Mormon Church.)
In the sports of the day, such as wrestling, etc., he was over an average. Very few of the Saints had the strength needed to throw the Prophet in a fair tussel; in every gathering he was a welcome guest, and always added to the amusement of the people, instead of dampening their ardor. During the time that we were camping at Adam-on-Diamond, waiting to see what would be the result of the quarrel between our Church and the Gentiles, one Sunday morning (it had rained heavily the night before and the air was cold) the men were shivering over a few fire-brands, feeling out of sorts and quite cast down. The Prophet came up while the brethren were moping around, and caught first one and then another and shook them up, and said, "Get out of here, and wrestle, jump, run, do anything but mope around; warm yourselves up; this inactivity will not do for soldiers. Th. words of the Prophet put life and energy into the men. A ring was soon formed, according to the custom of the people. The Prophet stepped into the ring, ready for a tussel with any corner. Several went into the ring to try their strength, but each one was thrown by the Prophet, until he had thrown several of the stoutest of the men present. Then he stepped out of the ring and took a man by the arm and led him in to take his place, and so it continued - the men who were thrown retiring in favor of the successful one. A man would keep the ring so long as he threw his adversary. The style of wrestling varied with the desires of the parties. The Eastern men, or Yankees, used square hold, or collar and elbow; those from the Middle States side hold, and the Southern and Western men used breeches hold and old Indian hug or back hold. If a man was hurt he stood it without a murmur; it was considered cowardly and childish to whine when thrown down or hurt in the fall.
While the sport was at its height Sidney Rigdon, the mouth-piece of the Prophet, rushed into the ring, sword in hand, and said that he would not suffer a lot of men to break the Sabbath day in that manner. For a moment all were silent, then one of the brethren, with more presence of mind than the others, said to the Prophet, "Brother Joseph, we want you to clear us. from blame, for we formed the ring by your request. You told. us to wrestle, and now Brother Rigdon is bringing us to account for it."
The Prophet walked into the ring and said, as he made a. motion with his hand: "Brother Sidney, you had better go out of here and let the boys alone; they are amusing themselves according to my orders. You are an old man. You go and get ready for meeting and let the boys alone. Just then catching Rigdon off his guard, as quick as a flash he knocked the sword from Rigdon's hand, then caught him by the shoulder, and. said: "Now, old man, you must go out, or I will throw you down." Rigdon was as large a man as the Prophet, but not as tall. The prospect of a tussel between the Prophet and the mouthpiece of the Prophet, was fun for all but Rigdon, who pulled back like a craw-fish, but the resistance was useless, the Prophet dragged him from the ring, bareheaded, and tore Rigdon's fine pulpit coat from the collar to the waist; then he turned to the men and said; "Go in, boys, and have your fun. You shall never have it to say that I got you into any trouble that I did not get you out of."
Rigdon complained about the boa of his hat and the tearing of his coat. The Prophet said to him: "You were out of your place. Always keep your place and you will not suffer; but you got a little out of your place and you have suffered for it. You have no one to blame but yourself. After that Rigdon never countermanded the orders of the Prophet, to my knowledge - he knew who was boss.
An order had been issued by the Church authorities commanding all of the members of the Mormon Church to leave their farms, and to take such property as they could remove, and go to one of the two fortified camps - that is Far West or Adam-on-Diamond. A large majority of the settlers obeyed, and the two camps were soon full of people who had deserted home again for the sake of the gospel.
There was a settlement on Log Creek, between three and five miles east from Far West. It was quite a rich settlement. A man named Haughn had just completed a good flouring mill on the creek. The morning after the battle of Crooked River, Haughn came to Far West to consult with the Prophet concerning the policy of the removal of the settlers on Log Creek to the fortified camps. Col. White and myself were standing by when the Prophet said to him: "Move in, by all means, if you wish to save your lives." Haughn replied that if the settlers left their homes all of their property would be lost, and the Gentiles would burn their houses and other buildings. The Prophet said: "You had much better lose your property than your lives, one can be replaced, the other cannot be restored; but there is no need of your losing either if you will only do as you are commanded." Haughn said that he considered the best plan was for all of the settlers to move into and around the mill, and use the blacksmith's shop and other buildings as a fort in case of attack; in this way he thought they would be perfectly safe. "You are at liberty to do so if you think best," said the Prophet. - Haughn then departed, well satisfied that he had carried his point.
The Prophet turned to Col. White and said: "That man did not come for counsel, but to induce me to tell him to do as he pleased; which I did. Had I commanded them to move in here and leave their property, they would have called me a tyrant. I wish they were here for their own safety. I am confident that we will soon learn that they have been butchered in a fearful manner.
At this time the Missourians had determined to exterminate the whole of the Mormon people. Governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued orders to that effect. I think General Clark was the officer in command of all the Gentile forces. Gen. Atchison and Gen. Doniphan each commanded a division, of from three to eight thousand men, and they soon besieged Far West. The Mormons fortified the town as well as they could, and took special care to fortify and build shields and breastworks, to prevent the cavalry from charging into the town. The Gentile forces were mostly camped on Log Creek, between the town of Far West and Haughn's Mill, and about a mile from Far West, and about half a mile south of our outer breastworks. Our scouts and picket guards were driven in, and forced to join the main ranks for safety. The Mormon troops were placed in position by the officers, so as to guard every point. Each man had a large supply of bullets, with the patching sewed on the balls to facilitate the loading of our guns, which were all muzzle loaders. The Mormon force was about eight hundred strong, poorly armed; many of the men had no guns; some had single-barrel pistols, and a few had home-made swords. These were all of our implement. of war. So situated, we were still anxious to meet the enemy, and demanded to be led out against our foes. Our men were confident that God was going to deliver the enemy into our bands, and so we had no fears. I was one of the advance force, and as I lay behind some timber, with my cap-box open, and bullets lying on the ground by my side, I never had a doubt of being able to defeat the Gentile army. The troops lay and watched each other two days, then the Gentiles made two effort. to force their way into the town by stratagem; but seeing our forces in order, they did not come within range of our guns. The Mormons stood in the ranks, and prayed for the chance of getting a shot; but all to no effect. The same evening we learned of the massacre at Haughn's Mill. The description of this massacre was such as to freeze the blood of each Saint, and force them to swear revenge should come some day.
HAUGHN'S MILL MASSACRE
was reported about as follows to us at Far West. When the Gentile mob attacked the Mormons at the mill the Mormons took shelter in the blacksmith shop and other buildings. The mob took advantage of the banks of the creek and the timber, and very nearly surrounded the shop, which was built of logs, and served as a slaughter-house instead of a shelter or protection. The mob, while protected as they were, shot down the Mormons it their leisure. They killed eighteen and wounded as many more; in fact they killed and wounded every one who did not run away during the fight and take refuge in the woods. After shooting down all that could be seen, the mob entered the blacksmith shop and there found a young lad who had secreted himself under the bellows. One of the men said, "Don't shoot; it is but a small boy." The reply was, "Nits will make lice; it is best to save them when we can." Thus saying, they shot the little fellow where he lay. There was an old man in the settlement by the name of McBride, who had been a soldier in the Revolutionary war; he was killed by being hacked to pieces with a corn-cutter while begging for his life. The dead and wounded were thrown into a well all together. Several of the wounded were afterwards taken out of the well by the force that went from Far West, and recovered from their wounds. So great was the hatred of the mob that they saved none, but killed all who fell into their hands at that time. I received my information of the massacre from David Lewis, Tarleton Lewis, William Laney and Isaac Laney; they were Kentuckians, and were also in the fight, but escaped death. Isaac Laney was shot seven times, leaving thirteen ball holes in his person; five of the shots were nearly in the centre of the chest; one entered under the right arm, passed through the body and came out under the left arm; yet, strange as it appears, he kept his feet, so he informed me, and ran some three hundred yards to a cabin, where a woman raised a loose plank of the cabin floor, and he lay down and she replaced the boards.
The mob left, and in about two hours Laney was taken from under the cabin floor nearly lifeless. He was then washed, anointed with oil, the elders praying for his recovery, according to the order of the Holy Priesthood, and he was promised, through prayer and faith in God, speedy restoration. The pain at once left him, and for two weeks he felt no pain at all. He then took cold, and the wound in his hips pained him for some two hours, when the elders repeated their prayers and again anointed him, which had the effect desired. The pain left him, and never returned. I heard Laney declare this to be a fact, and he bore his testimony in the presence of many of the Saints. I saw him four weeks after the massacre and examined his person. I saw the wounds, then healed. I felt of them with my hands, and I saw the shirt and examined it, that he had on when was shot, and it was cut in shreds. Many balls had cut his clothing, that had not touched his person.
The massacre at Haughn's Mill was the result of the brethren's refusal to obey the wishes of the Prophet. All the brethren so considered it. It made a deep and lasting impression on my mind, for I had heard the Prophet give the counsel to the brethren to come into the town. They had refused, and the result was a lesson to all that there was no safety except in obeying the Prophet.
Col. George M. Hinkle had command of the troops at Far West, under Joseph Smith. He was from Kentucky, and was considered a fair weather Saint. When danger came he was certain to be on the strong side. He was a fine speaker, and had great influence with the Saints.
Previous to the attack on Far West, Col. Hinkle had come to an understanding with the Gentile commanders that in case the danger grew great, they could depend on him as a friend and one through whom they could negotiate and learn the situation of affairs in the camp of the Saints. When our scouts were first driven in Col. Hinkle was out with them, and when they were closely pursued he turned his coat wrong side out and wore it so. This was a peculiar move, but at the time it did not cause much comment among his men, but they reported it to the Prophet, and he at once became suspicious of the Colonel. The Prophet, being a man of thought and cool reflection, kept this information within a small circle, as that was a bad time - to ventilate an act of that kind. The Prophet concluded to make use of the knowledge he had gained of Hinkle's character, and use him to negotiate between the two parties. I do not believe that Joseph Smith had the least idea that he, with his little handful of men, could stand off that army that had come up against him. I know that now, but at that time I was full of religious zeal and felt that the Mormon Hosts of Israel were invincible. Joseph wished to use Hinkle to learn the destiny of the Gentiles, so that he could prepare for the worst. Col. Hinkle was sent out by Joseph to have an interview with the Gentiles.
The Colonel returned and reported to Joseph Smith the terms proposed by the Gentile officers. The terms offered were as follows: Joseph Smith and the leading men of the Church, Rigdon, Lyman White, P. P. Pratt, Phelps and others, were to give themselves up without delay, the balance of the men to surrender themselves and their arms by ten o'clock the following day, the understanding being that all would be tried for treason against the Government, and for other offences. The Prophet took advantage of this information, and had every man that was in imminent danger, leave the camp for a place of safety. The most of those in danger went to Illinois. They left at once, and were safe from all pursuit before the surrender took place, as they traveled north and avoided all settlements. When the brethren had left for Illinois, as just stated, Joseph Smith called all of his remaining troops together, and told them they were a good lot of fellows, but they were not perfect enough to withstand so large an army as the one now before them, that they had stood by him, and were willing to die for and with him, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, that he wished them to be comforted, for God had accepted their offering, that he intended to, and was going to offer himself up as a sacrifice, to save their lives and to save the Church. He wished them all to be of good cheer, and pray for him, and to pray that he and the brethren that went with him might be delivered from their enemies. He then blessed his people in the name of the Lord. After this, he and the leading men, six in number went with him direct to the camp of the enemy. They were led by a Judas, Col. G. M. Hinkle. I stood upon the breastworks and watched them go into the camp of the enemy. I heard the yells of triumph of the troops, as Joseph Smith and his companions entered. It was with great difficulty that the officers could restrain the mob from shooting them down as they entered. A strong guard was then placed over them to protect them from mob violence.
The next morning a court martial was held, at which Joseph Smith and his six companions that had surrendered with him, were sentenced to be shot. The execution was to take place at eight o'clock the next morning. When the sentence of the court martial was announced to them, Col. Lyman White said, "Shoot and be d-d." General Atchison and Col. Doniphan arrived with their divisions the same day, soon after the court martial had been held. Col. Doniphan, in particular, remonstrated against the decision. He said it was nothing more or less than cold blooded murder, and that every name signed to the decision was signed in blood, and he would withdraw his troops and have nothing to do in the matter, if the men were to be shot. General Atchison sustained Col. Doniphan, and said the wiser policy would be, in as much as they had surrendered themselves as prisoners, to place them in the Richmond jail, and let them take the due course of the law; let them be tried by the civil authorities of the land. In this way justice could be reached and parties could be punished according to law, and thus save the honor of the troops and the nation. This timely interposition and wise course on the part of Col. Doniphan and General Atchison, changed the course and prevented the hasty action of an infuriated mob, calling itself a court, men who were all the bitter enemies of Joseph Smith and his followers.
The next day a writing desk was prepared, with two secretaries or clerks; it was placed in the middle of the hollow square formed by the troops. The Mormons were marched in double file across the centre of the square, where the officers and men who had remained in Far West surrendered themselves and their arms to General Clark, Commander-in-Chief of the Missouri Militia, then in arms against the Saints at Far West. I was among the number that then surrendered. I laid down a good Kentucky rifle, two good horse pistols and a sword. After stacking our arms we were marched in single file, between a double file of the militia, who stood in a line from the secretary's desk, extending nearly across the square, ready to receive us, with fixed bayonets. As each man came up to the stand, he stepped to the desk and signed his name to an instrument recapitulating the conditions of the treaty, which were substantially as follows: We were to give a deed to all of our real estate, and to give a bill of sale of all our personal property, to pay the expenses of the war that had been inaugurated against us; that a committee of twelve should be appointed, one for Far West and one for Adam-on-Diamond, who were to be the sole judges of what would be necessary to remove each family out of the State, and all of the Mormons were to leave Missouri by the first of April, A. D. 1839, and all the rest of the property of the Mormons was to he taken by the Missouri troops to pay the expenses of the war. When the committee had examined into affairs and made the assignment of property that the Mormons were to retain, a pass would be given by the committee to each person as an evidence that he had gone through an investigation both as to his conduct and property. The prisoners at Far West were to be retained and not allowed to return home until the committee had reported and given the certificate that all charges had been met and satisfied. I remained a prisoner for nine days, awaiting the action of the committee. While such prisoner I witnessed many scenes of inhumanity, even more degrading than brutality itself. The mob of the militia was mostly composed of men who had been neighbors of the Mormons. This mob rifled the city, took what they wished, and committed many cruel and shameful deeds. These barbarous acts were done because they said the Mormons had stolen their goods and chattels, and while they pretended to search for stolen property they ravished women and committed other crimes at will. One day, while standing by a log fire, trying to keep warm, a man came up and recognized Riley Stewart, and said, "I saw you knock Dick Weldon down at Gallatin." With this he sprang and caught at an ax that had been stuck in a log; while trying to get the ax out, as it stuck fast in the log, Stewart ran; the man succeeded in getting the ax loose; he then threw it with all his force at Stewart; fortunately the ax struck him glancing blow on the head, not killing him, but giving him a severe wound. When one of the mob saw a saddle, or bridle, or any article they liked, they took it and kept it, and the Mormon prisoners dared not say a word about it.
The night after he was wounded, Stewart broke through the guard, and escaped to his wife's people in Carroll County, fifty miles south of Far West. As soon as the citizens heard that Stewart had arrived, they notified his wife's brothers and father that an armed mob intended to take him out and whip him severely, and then tar and feather him. His friends notified him of the fact, and he attempted to make his escape, but the mob was on the watch. They caught him, and, holding two pistols at his head, forced him to take off his coat, kneel down, and receive fifty lashes. These were given him with such force that they cut through his linen shirt. After this whipping, he returned to Far West, and took his chances with the rest of us. One day a soldier of the mob walked up to a house near where I was standing. The house was occupied by an old widow woman. The soldier noticed a cow in the little shed, near the house. He said he thought that was a Danite cow; that he wanted to have the honor of killing a Danite, or something that belonged to a Danite. The old widow came to the door of her cabin, and begged him to spare her cow saying it was her only dependence for milk, that she had no meat, and if her cow was killed, she must suffer. "Well, then," said he, "you can eat the cow for a change." He then shot the cow dead, and stood there and tantalized the old woman when she cried over her loss.
While we were standing in line, waiting our turns to sign the treaty, a large company of men, painted like Indians, rode up and surrounded us. They were a part of the men who were in the fight at the town of Gallatin, on the day of election. They tantalized us and abused us in every way they could with words. This treatment was hard to bear, but we were powerless to protect ourselves In any way.
LEE LOCATES THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
I HAD a fine gray mare that attracted the attention of many of the mob. I was allowed to take her to water, while closely guarded by armed men. One day as I took her to water I was spoken to by several men, who said they were sorry for a man like me, who appeared to be honest and peaceably disposed; that they knew that I and many honest men were deluded by Joseph Smith, the impostor. But they thanked God he would delude no more people; that he would certainly be shot; that I had better quit my delusion and settle down by the officer in command, who was then talking to me, in Carroll County, and make a home for my family; that I would never have peace or quiet while I remained with the Mormons. I heard him through. Then I said: "No man has deceived me. I am not deceived by Joseph Smith, or any other man. If I am deceived it is the Bible that has deceived me. I believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and I have the Bible as my authority in part for this belief. And I do not believe that Joseph Smith will be shot, as you seem to think. He has not finished his work yet.
As I finished my remarks the officer became fearfully enraged, and said, "That is the way with all you d-d Mormons. You might as well try to move a mountain as to turn a Mormon from his delusion. Blow the brains out of this fool! In an instant several guns were leveled on me. I imagined I already felt the bullets piercing my body. The soldiers would certainly have shot me down if the officer had not immediately countermanded his order, by saying, "Hold on, boys, he is not worth five charges of ammunition." I said, "Gents, I am your prisoner, unarmed and helpless, and I demand your protection. But if you consider there is any honor in treating a man, an American prisoner, in this way, you can do it."
As we returned to camp the man said, "We will make it hot for the Mormons yet before we are done with them, and if you have not got enough of them now, you will have before you are done with them; and you will remember my words when it is too late to serve you."
"I may, said I; "when I do I will own up like a little man. But until I am so convinced I will never turn my coat."
"Well, said he, "you are not so bad after all. I like a firm man, if he only has reason on his side."
The Mormons were forted, or barricaded, in the public school houses, and kept without any rations being issued to them. The grain fields and gardens that belonged to the Mormons were thrown open to the stock and wasted. Our cattle and other stock were shot down for sport and left for the wolves and birds of prey to devour. We were closely guarded, and not allowed to go from our quarters without a guard. We were nearly starved for several days, until I obtained permission to go out and bring in some of the cattle that the soldiers had killed for sport. The weather was cold and the snow deep, so the meat was good. I also got permission to gather in some vegetables, and from that time, while we remained prisoners, the men had plenty to eat, yet often it was of a poor quality. While a prisoner I soon learned that the loud and self-conceited men were of little account when danger stared them in the face.
Arrangements had been made to carry the treaty into effect. It was found necessary to send General Wilson with five hundred men to Adam-on-Diamond to compel the surrender, and signing of the treaty, as had been done at Far West and the people of that place were to be treated just as we had been.
I was recommended to General Wilson by the officer who had ordered his men to blow my brains out, as a suitable man for a guide to Adam-on-Diamond. He said that I was as stubborn as a mule, but still there was something about me he respected. That he believed that I was honest, and certainly no coward. General Wilson said: "Young man, do you live at Adam-on- Diamond?" I said: "I cannot say that I do, but I did once, and I have a wife and child there that I would like to see; but as to a home I have none left." He said, "Where did you live before you came here?" "In Illinois," I answered. "You shall soon see your wife and child. I will start in the morning with my division for Adam-on-Diamond. You are at liberty to select two of your comrades and go with me as guides, to pilot us there. Be ready for an early start and report to my Adjutant. "Thank you, sir, I will do as you request," said I.
I selected two good men, I think Levi Stewart was one, but I have really forgotten who the other man was. In the morning I was on hand in time. The day was cold and stormy, a hard north wind blowing, and the snow falling rapidly. It was an open country for thirteen miles, with eighteen inches of snow on the ground. We kept our horses in the lope until we reached Shady Grove timber, thirteen miles from Far West. There we camped for the night by the side of Waldo Littlefield's farm. The fence was burned for camp-fires, and his fields of grain were fed to the horses, or rather the animals were turned loose in the fields. After camp was struck I went to General Wilson and said, "General, I have come to beg a favor of you. I ask you in the name of humanity to let me go on to Adam-on-Diamond to-day. I have a wife and helpless babe there. I am informed our house has been burned, and she is likely out in this storm without a shelter. You are half-way there; the snow is deep, and you can follow our trail (it had then slackened up, or was snowing but little) In the morning; there is but one road to the settlement. He looked at me for a moment, and then said, "Young man, your request shall be granted, I admire your resolution." He then turned to his Aid, who stood trembling in the snow, and said, "Write Mr. Lee and his two comrades a pass, saying that they have gone through an examination at Far West, and have been found innocent," etc. The Adjutant drew out his portfolio and wrote as follows: "I permit John D. Lee to remove from Daviess to Caldwell County, and to pass out of the State, as he has undergone an examination at Far West and was fully acquitted. Marrowbone Encampment, Caldwell County, Mo., Nov. 15, 1839.
"R. Wilson, Brigadier Gen.
"R. F. COCKET, Aid-de-Camp."
After receiving my pass I thanked the General for his humane act, and with my friends made the journey, through the snow, to Adam-on-Diamond. As we neared home the sun shone out brightly. When I got in sight of where my house had been, I saw my wife sitting by a log fire in the open air, with her babe in her arms. Some soldiers had cut a large hickory tree for fire wood for her, and had built her a shelter with some boards I had dressed to weather-board a house, so she was in a measure comfortable. She had been weeping, as she had been informed that I was a prisoner at Far West, and would be shot, and that she need not look for me, for she would never see me again. When I rode up she was nearly frantic with delight, and as soon as reached her side she threw herself into my arms and then her self-possession gave way and she wept bitterly; but she soon recovered herself and gave me an account of her troubles during my absence.
The next evening, General Wilson and his command arrived and camped near my little shanty. I started at once to report to General Wilson. On my way to him I passed my friend McBrier, who had trusted me for some cattle. I still owed him for them. I told him why I had been unable to pay him, and wished him to take the cattle back, as I still had all of them except one cow that had died of the murein; that it was an honest debt, and I wished to pay it. I asked him to go to my shanty with me, and said he could take what cattle were left, and a black mare that was worth $75, and an eight-day clock that was worth $25, for my note. "I have not got your note," said he. "Who has it?" I asked him. "I do not know, I supposed you had it." "I never saw it since I gave it to you. "Well, said he, "my house was burned, and all my property either burned or taken from me, and your note was in the house when it was burned. "Well," said I, "it matters not with me, if you will take the property and give me a receipt against the note, so that it cannot be collected the second time, I will settle the debt." He then said, "I thought you had been in the party that burned the house, and had taken your note, but I am now satisfied to the contrary, and that you are an innocent man. All I ask is for you to renew the note. The property of the Mormons will be held to pay their debts, and the expenses of the war, and I will get my pay in that way. You just renew the note, and that will settle all between us." I then renewed the note, after which he went with me to General Wilson. McBrier introduced me to a number of the soldiers as an honest Mormon. This worked well in my favor, and pleased me much, for it satisfied me more than ever that honesty was the best policy. I had done nothing that I considered wrong; there was no stolen property around my house. I did not have to run and hide, or screen any act of mine from the public gaze. My wife had been treated well personally, during my absence; no insults had been offered to her, and I was well pleased at that. I was treated with respect by Gen. Wilson and his men. True, I was associated with the people that had incurred the displeasure of the authorities, and my neighbors, who had committed crimes and larcenies, were then receiving fearful punishment, for all they had done. The punishment, however, was in a great part owing to the fault of the people. When the Gentiles found any of their property that had been stolen, they became very abusive.
Every house in Adam-on-Diamond was searched by the troops for stolen property. They succeeded in finding very much of the Gentile property that had been captured by the Saints in the various raids they made through the country. Bedding of every kind and in large quantities was found and reclaimed by the owners. Even spinning wheels, soap barrels and other articles were recovered. Each house where stolen property was found was certain to receive a Missouri blessing from the troops. The men who had been most active in gathering plunder had fled to Illinois, to escape the vengeance of the people, leaving their families to suffer for the sins of the bleeding Saints. By the terms of the treaty all the Mormons were to leave Daviess County within fifteen days, but they were allowed to stay through the winter in Caldwell County; but all had to depart from Missouri before the first day of the next April. There were but few families that met with the kind treatment that mine did. The majority of the people were censured and persecuted as much as they were able to stand and live.
In justice to Joseph Smith I cannot say that I ever heard him teach or even encourage men to pilfer or steal little things. He told the people that in an open war the contending factions were justified in taking spoil to subsist upon during the war; but he did despise this little, petty stealing. He told the people to wait until the proper time came to take back their rights, "Then," said he, "take the whole State of Missouri like men."
When the people at Adam-on-Diamond had signed the treaty, and complied with the stipulations, the committee of twelve commenced their duties. When it came my turn to take the property necessary to take me out of the State, I was told to fit myself out comfortably. I told them that I had a wife and one child, that I had two good wagons, one a heavy one-horse wagon, with fills, and that I had a large mare that was equal to a common span, that the mare and wagon would do me, that I wanted some bedding and our clothing, and some other traps of little value; that I had a good milk cow that I wished to give to a friend who had lost all his cattle, and his wife had died a short time before, leaving a little babe that must have milk. I told them they could take the rest of my property and do with it as they did with that of the brethren. I was worth then in property, at a fair valuation, $4,000. The officers were astonished at me and said they did not wish to oppress a man who acted fairly. They told me to take my large wagon and two of my best horses, and all the outfit that I wanted. I thanked them for their kindness. I was permitted to give the cow to my friend and I had the privilege of taking such articles as I wished. I fitted up with just what would take me to Illinois, and left the remainder as a spoil for the enemies of the Church.
I did not regret the loss of my property; I gave it up as the price of my religious freedom; but I did feel cast. down to think and know that I was associated with so many petty thieves, whose ambition never rose higher than the smoke of their corn-cob pipes. I was sorrowful to find that the perfection I had thought the people possessed, was not, in fact, a part of their natures.
I had long desired to associate myself with an honest people, whose motto should be promptness, punctuality, honesty - a people that feared God and worked righteousness, dealt justly, loved mercy and walked uprightly with each other before their God; where my property, my life, my reputation would be held sacred by them all, the same as if it was their own. For the society of such a people I was willing to forsake all earthly substance, and even to have my name cast out as evil and trodden under foot, if I could be found worthy to serve with such a blessed people, and thus earn the boon of eternal life. But I had found another class of people; they fell far short of the requisites that I had believed they possessed. When I found fault with having such characters in the Church I was told of the parable where Christ likened the kingdom of heaven to a net that was cast into the sea, which, when drawn to the shore, had in it all kinds of fish; the servants picked out the good and kept them for the Master's use, and the bad were cast back into the sea; that we could not expect anything different with the kingdom on earth; that it was a trick of the evil one to cause such persons to rush into the gospel net to harass and torment the Saints with their evil doings, but the time would come when forbearance would cease to be a virtue, then all those who worked iniquity or gave offense in the kingdom would be cut off and destroyed; that we must bear with them until the time came to correct the evil.
Before I speak of other things I will say a few words of the country we were then in. Adam-on-Diamond was at the point where Adam came and settled and blest his posterity after being driven from the Garden of Eden. This was revealed to the people through Joseph Smith, the Prophet. The Temple Block in Jackson County, Missouri, stands on the identical spot where once stood the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden they traveled in a northwesterly course until they came to a valley on the east side of Grand River. There they tarried for several years, and engaged in tilling the soil. On the east of the valley there is a low range of hills. Standing on the summit of the bluffs a person has a full view of the beautiful valley that lies below, dotted here and there with elegant groves of timber. On the top of this range of hills Adam erected an altar of stone, on which he offered sacrifice unto the Lord. There was at that time (in 1888) a pile of stone there, which the Prophet said was a portion of the altar on which Adam offered sacrifice. Although these stones had been exposed to the elements for many generations of time, still the traces remained to show the dimensions and design of the altar. After Adam had offered his sacrifice he went up the valley some two mules, where he blessed his posterity and called the place the Valley of Adam-on-Diamond, which, in the reformed Egyptian language, signifies Adam's Consecrated Land. It is said to be seventy-five miles, in a direct course, from the Garden of Eden to Adam-on-Diamond. Those supposed ancient relics and sacred spots of earth are held sacred by the greater portion of the Latter Day Saints. To a casual observer it appears that this people are all the time chasing a phantom of some sort, which only exists in the brain of the fanatical followers. These things, and much more concerning the early days, were revealed to Joseph Smith.
On the 20th day of November, 1838, I took leave of my home, and the spot I considered sacred ground, Of Adam-on-Diamond, and started as a banished person to seek a home in Illinois. We went to my farm on Shady Grove Creek, and staid over night. We found everything as we had left it, nothing had been interfered with. I killed a large hog and dressed it to carry with us to eat on the journey. The snow was fully twenty inches deep, weather very cold, and taken all in all, it was a disagreeable and unpleasant trip. We went to the settlement on Log Creek, and stopped with the family of Robert Bidwell. He had plenty of property. This man had good teams, and had reaped where he had not sown, and gathered where he had not strewn. He was engaged in removing families of his helpless brethren to Quincy, Illinois, who had not teams to move themselves, but who had a little money that he was after, and he got all they had. For some reason unexplained to me, he had been permitted to keep all of his property; none of it was taken by the troops. While at Bidwell's I bought a crib of corn, about two hundred bushels, for a pocket-knife. I built a stable for my mare, and a crib for the corn, and hauled wood enough to do the whole family for the rest of the winter. I also attended to Bidwell's stock and worked all the time for him. They had five children, which made considerable work for the women folks; my wife worked for them all the time. During this time we had nothing but corn to eat. The hog I killed at my farm was diseased, and I had to throw the meat away. Notwithstanding our constant work for Bid well's family, they never gave us a drop of milk or a meal of victuals while we remained there. Mrs. Bidwell fed six gallons of milk to their hogs each day. I offered to feed the hogs corn for milk, so we could have milk to eat with our boiled corn, but she refused the offer, saying they had all they needed. They did have provisions of every kind in abundance, but not a particle of food could we obtain from them. Prayer meetings were frequently held at their house. They had plenty of tallow, but Mrs. Bidwell would not allow a candle to be burned in the house unless some other person furnished it. One night at prayer meeting I chanced to speak upon the subject of covetousness, and quoted the twelfth chapter of Paul to the Corinthians, where he speaks of members of the Church of Christ being united. I was feeling badly to see so much of the covetousness of the world in some of the members of the Church, and I talked quite plainly upon the subject. The next morning Mrs. Bidwell came into our room and said that my remarks at the meeting the evening before were directed at her, and she wanted me to understand that if I did not like my treatment there, she wanted us to go where we would fare better. This inhuman and unwelcome language did not set well in an empty stomach, and was more than I could bear. I burst into tears. Yet I pitied the ungrateful woman. As soon as I could control my feelings I said, "Sister Bidwell, I will take you at your word. I will leave your house as soon as I can get my things into my wagon, but before I leave you, I wish to say a few words for you to ponder on when we are gone. In the first place, you and I profess to be members of the same Church; for the sake of our faith my family has been broken up and driven from a comfortable home, in this inclement season of the year. We came here seeking shelter from the stormy blasts of winter, until the severity of the weather was past, when we intended to leave this State. You have been more fortunate than your brethren and sisters who lived in Daviess County. You are allowed to live in your own house, but we are homeless wanderers. Now you drive us from the shelter of your roof, for a trivial offense, if offense it was. But, I assure you that you are only angry because my words were the truth. Woe unto you who are angry and offended at the truth. As you do unto others, so will your Heavenly Father do unto you. In as much as you have done this unnatural act, you will yet be houseless and homeless - you will be one day dependent upon those that you now drive from your door.
At first she mocked me, but soon her tune changed and she commenced to cry. She then begged me not to get angry with what a woman said. I told her I could not undo what I had said - that I should start at once for Quincy, Illinois. We left the house of the stingy and selfish family, intending to go direct to Illinois. We traveled until we arrived at the house of a man by the name of Morris; they had a much smaller house than Bidwell's, but they would not listen to our continuing our journey during the severe cold weather. We accepted their invitation, and stayed there about two weeks. This family possessed the true Christian spirit, and treated us while there as kindly as if we had been their own children. While staying with Brother Morris I attended several meetings at Far West. Old Father Smith, the father of the Prophet, lead the meetings. He also directed the exodus of the Saints from Missouri to Illinois. Thomas B. Marsh was at that time President of the Twelve Apostles, and I think Brigham Young was second and Orson Hyde the third on the roll. The great opposition to our people and Church caused the two pillars, Marsh and Hyde, to become weak-kneed and turn over to the enemy. Col. G. M. Hinkle, Dr. Averard, Judge W. W. Phelps, and others of the tall men of the Church followed suit. I remember going with Levi Stewart to some of those fallen angels (in the days of our prosperity they had looked like angels to me) to enquire what to do and what was to be the future conduct of our people. G. M. Hinkle said that it was his opinion our leaders, Joseph Smith and those with him in prison, would be either hung or imprisoned for life - that the members of the Church would scatter to the four winds, and never gather again in this dispensation. We then went to Joseph's father and asked him for counsel. He told us that the Saints would gather again in Illinois. We asked him at what point. He said, "I do not know yet, but the farther north we go the less poisonous serpents we will find." He then advised us to attend private meetings and be set apart to the ministry. Public meetings could not be held by the terms of the treaty. We did attend private meetings, and I was ordained in the Quorum of Seventies, under the hands of Joseph Young and Levi Hancock. Stewart was ordained to the lesser priesthood, which gave him authority to preach and baptize, but not to confirm. The office that I held gave me authority to preach, baptize and confirm by the laying on of hands, for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and to ordain and set apart Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons, and to ordain a Seventy or High Priest, as the office of a Seventy belongs to the Melchisedek priesthood; yet a Seventy or High Priest is generally ordained and set apart by the presidents of the several quorums. After we were ordained we attended a private feast and blessing meeting, at which my wife and I got our Patriarchal Blessing, under the hands of Isaac Morley, Patriarch. This office properly belongs to those that are ordained and set apart to that calling, to bless the fatherless and the widow especially, but he can bless others who ask it and pay one dollar for the blessing. Often the widow and the poor are blessed free, but this is at the option of the Patriarch.
My Patriarchal Blessing was in the following form: "Patriarchal Blessing of John D. Lee. By Isaac Morley, Patriarch. Caldwell County, Missouri, Dec. -, 1838. Brother John D. Lee: In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and by virtue and authority of the Holy Priesthood, in me vested, I lay my hands upon thy head, and confer upon thee a Patriarchal or Father's Blessing. Thou art of Ephraim, through the loins of Joseph, that was sold in Egypt. And inasmuch as thou hast obeyed the requirements of the gospel of salvation, thy sins are forgiven thee. Thy name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, never more to be blotted out. Thou art a lawful heir to all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the new and everlasting covenant. Thou shalt travel until thou art satisfied with seeing Thousands shall hear the everlasting gospel proclaimed from thy lips. Kings and princes shall acknowledge thee to be their father in the new and everlasting covenant. Thou shalt have a numerous posterity, who shall rise up and bless thee. Thou shalt have houses and habitations, flocks, fields and herds: Thy table shall be strewed with the rich luxuries of the earth, to feed thy numerous family and friends who shall come unto thee. Thou shalt be a counselor in Israel, and many shall come unto thee for instruction. Thou shalt have power over thins enemies. They that oppose thee shall yet come bending unto thee. Thou shalt sit under thine own vine and fig tree, where none shall molest or make thee afraid. Thou shalt be a blessing to thy family and to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thou shalt understand the hidden things of the kingdom of heaven. The spirit of inspiration shall be a light in thy path and a guide to thy mind. Thou shalt come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, and NO POWER shall hinder, except the shedding of innocent blood, or consenting thereto. I seal thee up to eternal life. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen, and Amen."
To a true believer in the faith of the Latter Day Saints a blessing of this kind, from under the hand of a Patriarch, was then, and is now, considered next to a boon of eternal life. We were taught to look upon a Patriarch as a man highly favored of God, and that he possessed the gift of discerning of spirits and could read the present and future destiny of men. Of all this I then had no doubt.
Patriarchal blessings are intended to strengthen, stimulate and encourage true Saints, and induce them to press on to perfection while passing through this world of sorrows, cares and disappointments.
Having been ordained and blessed, my next step was to arm myself with the Armor of Righteousness, and in my weakness pray for strength to face a frowning world. I had put my hands to the plow and I was determined that, with God's help, I would never turn back to the sinful elements of the world, the flesh and the devil.
THE SAINTS GATHER AT NAUVOO.
ABOUT the middle of February, 1839, I started back for Fayette County, Illinois, with my family, in company with Levi Stewart and Riley Helm, two of my old Illinois neighbors. While traveling through Missouri we were kindly treated by most of the people; many of them requested us to stop and settle down by them. I refused to do so, for I knew there was no safety for a true Saint in that State, at that time. When we crossed the Mississippi River at Quincy, and touched Illinois soil, I felt like a new man, and a free American citizen again. At this place I found many of the Saints who had preceded us, camped along the river. Some had obtained employment, all appeared happy in the faith and strong in the determination to build up the Kingdom. Here I parted with Riley Helm, him team had given out, and he could go no farther. I gave him twenty-five cents in money, all that I had in the world, and twelve pounds of nails, to buy food with until he could find aid from some other quarter. I had laid in enough provisions at Brother Morris' to last me until I could reach my old home again.
I started from Quincy by way of Mr. Vanleven's, the man I sold my cattle to when going to join the Saints. Without meeting with any remarkable adventures, I arrived at Vanleven's house and was kindly received by him. He had the money ready for me, and paid me in full all he owed on the cattle. I now saw that some honesty yet remained in the world. I took $200 and left the rest of it with my friend and banker, so that it would be safe in case I met another storm of oppression.
I then went to Vandalia, Illinois, and put up with my wife's sister's husband, Hickerson. He was in good circumstances. I left my wife with her sister, after laying in a supply of provisions for her and our child. I then commenced preparing for a mission. I did not know where I was to go, but I felt it my duty to go forth and give my testimony to the truth of the Gospel as revealed by Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the everlasting God. Stewart was to go with me; he had made arrangements for the comfort of his family during his absence.
I started on my first mission about the 1st of April, 1889. I bade adieu to my little family and started forth, an illiterate, inexperienced person, without purse or scrip. I could hardly quote a passage of Scripture, yet I went forth to say to the world that I was a minister of the gospel, bearing a message from on high, with the authority to call upon all men to repent, be baptized for the remission of their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. I had never attempted to preach a discourse in my life. I expected trials, and I had them to undergo many times.
Brother Stewart and myself started forth on foot, with our valises on our backs. We walked about thirty miles the first day, and as night was approaching, we called at a house for lodging. They had been having a log rolling there that day, and quite a number of people were around the house. We asked for lodging and refreshments. Our request was carried back to the supper-room to the man of the house, and we stood at the gate awaiting the reply. Presently the man came out and said that no d-d Mormon preacher could stay in his house; and if we wished to save our scalps, we had better be making tracks lively. Brother Stewart took him at his word, and started off at a double quick. I followed, but more slowly. We made no reply to that man's remarks.
A mile further on we again called for lodging. The man could not keep us, as be was poor, and his family was sick; but he directed us to a house half a mile from the traveled road, where he said a man lived that was an infidel, but he would not turn a hungry man from his door. We went to the house, and asked for entertainment. The man said he never turned a man from his door hungry, but he had as soon entertain horse-thieves as Mormon preachers; that he looked upon all Mormons as thieves, robbers and scoundrels. There was determination in his voice as he addressed us in this manner. He held his rifle in his hand while speaking. Then he said, "Walk in, gentlemen. I never turn the hungry away." He then addressed his wife, a very pretty, unassuming lady, and said, "Get these men some supper, for I suppose they feel pretty lank."
A good supper was soon on the table; but I could not eat. Stewart ate his supper, and soon was enjoying himself talking to the family. He was a great talker; liked to hear himself talk. They requested me to eat, but I thanked them, and said rest would do me more good than eating. I soon retired, but did not sleep. I was humiliated; my proud spirit was broken and humbled; the rough words used toward me had stricken me to the heart. At daylight we were on our way again.
About ten o'clock we arrived at a little town, and went to the pump to get a drink. While there a woman came to the pump, and asked us if we were Mormon preachers. We told her we were out on that business, but had never preached yet. She invited us to her house, saying she owned the hotel; that she was a widow; she would inform the people of the town that we were there, and as it was the Sabbath, we could preach in her house for she wished to hear the strange doctrine. We consented to remain, and went home with her and had something to eat. At eleven o'clock, A. M., I made my debut to quite an attentive audience. I both quoted and made Scripture. I had been fasting and praying until I had become as humble as a child. My whole mind and soul were swallowed up in the Gospel. My most earnest desire was to be able to impart to others that knowledge that I had of the truths of the Gospel. When I began to speak I felt an electric thrill through any whole system. I hardly knew what I said, and the people said I spoke from inspiration; and none of the audience noticed my mistakes in quoting Scripture.
After dinner my companion, Stewart, proposed to travel on, and I agreeing with him, we left the town, although the people wished us to stay and preach again. I had but little confidence in myself, and concluded to preach but seldom, until I got over my timidity or man-fearing feeling that most new beginners are subject to. But I have now been a public speaker for thirty-five years, and I have not yet entirely gotten over that feeling.
We started for Cincinnati, and traveled two days and a half without food. My boots hurt my feet and our progress was quite slow. The third night we applied to a tavern keeper for lodging and food. He said we were welcome to stay in his house free, but he must have pay for what we eat. We sat in the hall all night, for we were much reduced by hunger and fatigue. That was a miserable night indeed. I reflected the matter over and over again, scrutinized it up one side and down the other. I could not see why a servant of God should receive such treatment - that if I was in the right faith, doing the will of God, that He would open up the way before me, and not allow me to perish under the sore trials then surrounding me. I had seriously considered the propriety of walking back to where the kind landlady had given us our last meal, but was soon comforted, for these words came into my mind, "He that putteth his hands to the plow, and then looketh back, is not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven;" "If ye were of the world, then the world would love its own, but because I have chosen you out or the world, the world persecuteth you;" "Ye, and all who live Godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution, while evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived;" that the Son of God himself, when he entered upon the duties of His mission, was led into the wilderness, where He was tempted forty days and nights, and when he was hungry and asked for bread, he was told, substantially, that if his mission was of God, that God would feed him, that if hungry he could turn the stones to bread and eat. I remembered that similar sayings had been thrown into our teeth. These thoughts passed through my frame like electricity, or to use the language of one of the old prophets, it was like fire shut up in my bones; I felt renewed and refreshed from head to foot, and determined to trust in that Arm that could not be broken, to conquer and subdue the passions of my nature, and by the help of God to try and bring them in subjection to the will of the Spirit, and not of the flesh, which is carnal, sensual and devilish. I determined that there should be no lack on my part.
Daylight came at last, and we renewed our journey. I put a double guard over my evil passions that were sown thickly in my sinful nature. The passion most dreaded by me was the lust of the flesh; that I knew to be the worst enemy to my salvation, and I determined to master it. I have walked along in silence for hours, with my heart lifted up to God in prayer, pleading with Him to give me power over my passions and sinful desires, that I might conquer and drive from my mind those besetting sins that were continually warring with the Spirit, which, if cherished or suffered to remain, would wound and grieve the Spirit and drive it away. It is written, "My Spirit will not dwell in an unholy temple." Jesus said to his followers that they were the Temple of the Living God; that if they who had charge of those temples, or bodies, allowed them to become unholy, that he would destroy that body; but those who guarded their temples, and kept them pure and holy, that he and his Father would come and take up their abode and dwell with them as a constant companion forever, even unto the end; and would guide them in all, truth and show them things past, present and to come. From day to day I have kept my mind in a constant strain upon this subject. Notwithstanding this the tempter was ever on the alert, and contested every inch of ground with me. Often, while I was in the most solemn reflections, the tempter would place before me some lovely female, possessing all the allurements of her sex, to draw my mind from the contemplation of holy things. For a moment humanity would, claim the victory, but quick as thought I would banish the vision from my mind, and plead with God for strength and power to resist the temptations that were besetting me, and to enable me to cast aside the love of sinful pleasures. The words of the Apostle Paul were appropriate for me at that and in future time, when he declared that he died daily to crucify the deeds of the flesh; so it was with me. I was soon convinced that I could not serve two masters, God and Mammon. When I tried to please the one I was certain to displease the other. I found that I must give myself up wholly to God and His ministry, and conduct myself as a man of God, if I would be worthy of the name of a messenger of salvation. I must have the Spirit of God to accompany my words, and carry conviction to the honest in heart. In this way I grew in grace from day to day, and I have never seen the day that I regretted taking up my cross and giving up all other things to follow and obey Christ, my Redeemer and Friend.
But I do most sincerely regret that I have ever suffered myself to be captivated by the wiles of the devil, contrary to my better judgment. I regret that I have ever listened, or given the least credence, to the many monstrous absurdities that Brigham Young has introduced into the Mormon creed, and claimed, as the successor of Joseph Smith, to have coupled with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Brigham Young has introduced many things that have no affinity with the gospel whatever; but these new doctrines are contrary, in spirit and substance, to the gospel. They are at war with the doctrines of the Church, and antagonistic to the peace, safety, and happiness of the people known as Latter Day Saints. The whole study, aim, and design of Brigham Young is to disrobe the Saints of every vestige of their remaining constitutional rights, and take from them all liberty of thought or conscience. He claims, and has claimed, since he became the head of the Church, that the will and acts of the people must all be dictated by him. The people have no right to exercise any will of their own. In a word, he makes himself out to be as infallible as the God of the universe, and delights in hearing the apostles and elders declare to the people that he, Brigham Young, is God. He claims that the people are answerable to him as to their God. That they must obey his every beck and call. It matters not what he commands or requests the people to do, it is their duty to bear and obey. To disobey the will of Brigham Young is, in his mind, a sin against the Holy Ghost, and is an unpardonable sin to be wiped out only by blood atonement. The followers of Brigham Young are serfs, slaves, and willing instruments to carry out the selfish designs of the man that disgraces the seat once occupied by God's chosen Prophet, Joseph Smith.
I must now resume my narrative, but I will hereafter speak of Brigham Young more at length.
We left the Fasting Hotel, as I called it, and traveled to Hamilton, Ohio, then a neat little town. As we arrived in the center of the town, I felt impressed to call at a restaurant, kept by a foreigner. It was then noon. This was the first house we had called at since morning. As we entered, the proprietor requested us to unstrap our valises and sit down and rest, saying we looked very tired. He asked where we were from, and where we were going. We answered all his questions. He then offered us refreshments; we informed him that we had no money, and had eaten nothing for three days. He said it made no difference to him, that if we had no money we were more welcome than if we had plenty of it. We then eat a hearty meal, and he gave us a drink of cider. He then filled our knapsacks with buns, cheese, sausages, and other things, after which be bid us God speed. We traveled on with hearts full of gratitude to God, the bountiful Giver, who had opened the heart of the stranger who had just supplied our wants, and we felt grateful to and blessed the man for his generous actions. While passing through Cincinnati we were offered refreshments by a lady that kept an inn. We crossed the Ohio river at Cincinnati, and stopped over night at a hotel on the Kentucky side of the river. We then traveled through Kentucky and into Overton and Jackson Counties, Tennessee.
I now bear testimony, though many years have passed since then, that from the moment that I renewed my covenant to deny myself of all unrighteousness, and decided to live the life of a man devoted to God's work on earth, I have never felt that I was alone, or without a Friend powerful to aid, direct and shield me at all times and during all troubles.
I stopped with my friend Levi Stewart at the houses of his relatives in Overton and Jackson Counties, and preached several times. My friend Stewart was blessed with a large bump of self-esteem. He imagined that he could convert all of his relations at once; that all he had to do was to present the gospel, and they would gladly embrace it. He appeared to forget that a prophet was not without honor, save in his own country and among bin own kinfolks. Stewart, though I was his superior in the priesthood, if not in experience and ability, Looked upon me as a cypher, fit for nothing. The rough treatment and slights that I received from him were more than humiliating to a man of fine feelings and a proud spirit, such as I possessed. I said nothing to him, but I poured out my soul in secret prayer to my Heavenly Father, asking him to open the door for my deliverance, so that my proud spirit, which was bound down, might have a chance to soar in a free element.
One Sunday we attended a Baptist meeting. We sat facing the preachers but at the far side of the house. My mind was absorbed in meditating upon my future labors. Gradually I lost consciousness of my surroundings, and my whole being seemed in another locality. I was in a trance and saw future events. What I then saw was to me a reality, and I will describe it as such. I traveled, valise in hand, in a strange land, and among a people that I had never seen. I was kindly received by the people, and all my wants were supplied without my having to ask for charity. I traveled on, going over a mountainous country. I crossed a clear, handsome river, and was kindly received by the family of the owner of the ferry at the river. I stayed with this family for some days. I then recrossed the river and called at a house, where I asked for a drink of water, which was given to me. I held quite a conversation with two young women. They informed me that there was no minister in the neighborhood; also that their father had gone in pursuit of a Mormon preacher that had passed that way a few days before. A few days passed, and I saw myself in the midst of a large congregation, to whom I was preaching. I also baptized a large number and organized quite a flourishing branch of the Church there, and was in charge of that people. I was very popular with, and almost worshiped by, my congregation. I saw all this, and much more, when my vision closed.
My mind gradually changed back, and I found myself sitting in the meeting house, where I had been just forty minutes before. This was an open day vision, in which the curtains of heaven were raised and held aside from futurity to allow me to look into the things which were to come. A feeling of heavenly rapture filled my being, so much so that, like the apostle who was caught up into the third heaven, I did not know whether I was in the body or out of it during my vision. I saw things that it would be unlawful for men to utter. While the vision lasted my soul was lighted up as if illuminated with the candle of God. When the vision closed, the hallowed influence gradually withdrew; yet leaving sufficient of its glorious influence upon my soul to justify me in feeling and knowing that I was then chosen of God as a servant in his earthly kingdom; and I was also made to know, by my sensations, that my vision was real, and would soon be verified in every particular.
At the close of the church services, we returned to our lodgings. Stewart asked me if I was sick. I said, "No, I am not sick, but I feel serious; yet I am comfortable. That evening, after I had given some time to secret prayer, I retired to rest. Very soon afterwards the vision returned, though somewhat varied. I was in the midst of a strange people, to whom I was propounding the gospel. They received it with honest hearts, and looked upon me as a messenger of salvation. I visited from house to house, surrounded by friends and kindred spirits, with whom I had once been familiar in another state of existence. I was in the spirit, and communing with the host of spirits that surrounded me; and encouraged me to return to the body, and continue to act the part that my Master had assigned me. No person, except those who have entered by pureness of heart and constant communion with God, can ever enter into the joyous host, with whom I then, and in after life, held intercourse.
When I came to myself in the morning, I determined to travel until the end of time, to find the people and country that God had shown me in my first vision; and I made my arrangements to start forth again, knowing that God now went with me.
I started off the next morning, after having a talk with Brother Stewart. He tried to dissuade me from going, saying I had little experience, not sufficient to warrant my traveling alone, that we had better remain together where we were for a season, for we had a home there, and we could study and inform ourselves more thoroughly before starting out among strangers. I told him that, in and of my own strength I was but a weak vessel; but my trust was in God, and unless He would bless my labors I could not accomplish much. That I was God's servant, engaged in His work, therefore I looked to Him for strength and grace sufficient to sustain me in my day of trial. That I trusted in the arm of God alone, and not in one of flesh.
I started off in a southwesterly course, over the Cumberland Mountains, and went about seventy miles through a heavily timbered country. I found many species of wild fruit in abundance along the way. Springs of pure, cold water were quite common. I passed many little farms and orchards of cultivated fruit, such as cherries, peaches, pears and apples. As I proceeded, the country became familiar to me, so much so that I soon knew I was on the very ground I had seen in my vision in the Baptist Church. I saw the place where I had held my first meeting, and my joy was great to behold with my eyes what I bad seen through a glass darkly. I turned aside from the road, and beneath the spreading branches of the forest trees I lifted my heart with gratitude to God for what he had done for me. I then went to the house where I had seen the multitude assemble, and where I was preaching. I saw the two young ladies there that I had beheld in my vision. They appeared to me as though I had known them from infancy, they so perfectly accorded with those that I had seen while God permitted me to see into futurity. . Yes, I saw the ladies, but their father was gone from home. I asked for a drink of water, and it was handed to me, as I had seen it done in my vision. I asked them if there had ever been any Mormon preachers in that country. They said there had not been any there. The young ladies were modest and genteel in behavior.
I passed on to the Cumberland River, was set over the river by the ferryman, and lodged at his house. So far all was natural, it was part of what God had shown me; but I was then at the outer edge of my familiar scenery. I stayed about a week with the ferryman. His name was Vanleven, a relative of my friend and banker in Illinois. I made myself useful while there. I attended the ferry, and did such work as I could see needed attending to. I also read and preached Mormon doctrines to the family. On the fifth day after reaching the ferry, I saw five men coming to the ferry. I instantly recognized one of them as the man 1 had seen in my vision-the man that took me to his house to preach. My heart leaped for joy, for God had sent him in answer to the prayers I had offered to God, asking that the man should be sent for me. I crossed the men over and back again, and although I talked considerably to the man about what was uppermost in my mind, he said nothing about my going home with him. I was much disappointed. I retired for secret prayer, and asked God, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to aid me, to send the man whom I had seen in my vision back for me. Before I left my knees I had an evidence that my prayer was answered. The next morning at daylight I informed my friends that I must depart in search of my field of labor. They asked me to stay until breakfast, but I refused. One of the negroes put me over the river, and directed me how to cross the mountains on the trail that was much shorter than the wagon road. I stopped in a little cove and ate a number of fine, ripe cherries. I then went on until I reached what to me was enchanted ground. I met the two sisters at the gate, and asked them if their father was at home. "No, he is not at home, said the ladies, "he has gone to the ferry to see a Mormon preacher, and see if he can get him to come here and preach in this neighborhood, and then said I must have met him on the road. I told them that I had come over the trail, and said I was probably the man he bad gone for. They replied, "Our father said that if you came this way, to have you stop and stay here until his return, and to tell you that you are welcome to. preach at our house at any time." This was on Friday. I took out my pencil and wrote a notice that I would preach at that place on the following Sunday, at ten o'clock, A. M. I handed it to the girls. They agreed to have the appointment circulated: I passed on and preached at a place twelve miles from there, and returned in time for my appointment. When I arrived within sight of the place of meeting, I was filled with doubt and anxiety. I trembled all over, for I saw that a vast concourse or people had come to hear an inexperienced man preach the gospel. I went into the grove and again prayed for strength and assistance from my Father in Heaven, to enable me to speak His truth aright. I felt strengthened and comforted. As I arose from prayer, these words came into my mind, "Truth is mighty and will prevail."
I waited until the hour arrived for preaching; then I approached the place where I had once been in a vision. This meeting-place was in a valley, near a bold, pure spring; on either aide was a high, elevated country; in the centre of this valley there stood a large blacksmith and wagon shop, surrounded with a bower of brush wood, to protect the audience from the sun. This bower would seat one thousand people. In the centre of the bower they had erected a frame work or raised platform for a pulpit. I took my place and preached for one hour and a half. My tongue was like the pen of a ready writer. I scarcely knew what I was saying. I then opened the doors of the Church for the admission of members. Five persons joined the Church, and I appointed another meeting for that night. I again preached, when two more joined the Church. The next day I baptized the seven new members. I then arranged to hold meetings at that place three times a week. I visited around the country, seeking to convert sinners, while not engaged at this place. The first converts were leading people in that county. Elisha Sanders and his wife and daughter were the first to receive the gospel. Sanders was a farmer; he had a large flouring mill, owned a wood yard, and was engaged in boat-building on the' Cumberland River. Caroline C. Sanders had volunteered, to publish the appointment of my first meeting, which I left with the daughters of Mr. Smith.
I labored at this place two months, and baptized twenty-eight persons mostly the heads of families. I then organized them into a branch of the Church. Brother Sanders fitted up a room very handsomely for me, in which I could retire for study, rest, and secret prayer. I was made to feel at home there, and felt that God had quite fully answered my prayers. I had the knowledge that God's Spirit accompanied my words, carrying conviction to the hearts of sinful hearers, and gave me souls as seals to my ministry.
Brother Stewart soon preached himself out at his relatives' neighborhood. He heard of my success, and came to me. He said that the people where he had been preaching were an unbelieving set. I introduced him to the members of my congregation, and had him preach with me a few times, which gratified him very much. One Sunday we were to administer the Ordinance of Baptism. Several candidates were in attendance. Brother Stewart was quite anxious to baptize the people. I was willing to humor him. So I said, "My friends, Brother Stewart, a priest of the New Dispensation, will administer the Ordinance of Baptism. The people stood still; no one would go forward or consent for him to baptize them. They said they would not be baptized until I would baptize them myself. I told them I would act if they desired it. So I baptized the people, and Brother Stewart was much offended with them. He had not yet learned that he that exalteth himself shall be cast down, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. I then called on the people for a contribution, to get some clothing for Brother Stewart. I had concluded to have him return home, and wished to clothe him up before he started, for he was then quite in need of it. The contribution was more liberal than I expected.
I stayed there some three weeks after Brother Stewart had started for home. Then I made up my mind to go home and visit my family. Brother E. Sanders invited me to go to Gainsborough with him, where he presented me with a nice supply of clothing. Caroline C. Sanders presented me with a fine horse, saddle and bridle, and $12 in money. The congregation gave me $50, and I had from them an outfit worth over $300. I at first refused to accept the horse, but Miss Sanders appeared so grieved at this that I finally took it. I left my congregation in charge of Elder Julien Moses, and started for my family about the lst of October, 1839. I promised to call on my flock the next Spring, or to send a suitable minister to wait upon them.
When I reached Vandalia, Illinois, I found my family well. God had raised up friends for them in my absence. The Saints were then gathering at Commerce, Hancock County, Illinois. I visited my sister's family that Fall; they then lived about one hundred miles north of Vandalia. I preached often through Central Illinois, and that Fall I baptized all of my wife's family, except her father. He held out and refused the gospel until he was on his death bed; then he demanded baptism, but being in a country place he died before an elder could be procured to baptize him. But by the rules of our Church a person can be baptized for the dead, and so he was saved to eternal life by the baptism of one of his children for the salvation of his soul.
LEE CONTINUES HIS MISSIONARY WORK.
SHORTLY after my return to Illinois, I built a house for my family, and that Winter assisted my brother-in-law, Richard Woolsey, to do his work in the blacksmith shop. I sometimes visited my wife's sister Nancy and family. They lived on the Four-Mile Prairie, in Fayette County, Illinois. Nancy had married a man named Thomas Gatewood; he was known in that county as young Tom, as his father's name was Thomas. Nancy was the second wife of young Tom. His first wife left one child, a boy; he was quite a lad then, and very chubby. The people when speaking of the Gatewood family, would designate them in this way, "Old Tom," "Young Tom," and "Tom Body," and I understood this name stuck to them for many years.
During the Winter I entered into a trading and trafficking business with G. W. Hickerson. We would go over the country and buy up chickens, butter, feathers, beeswax, coon skins, etc.,. and haul them to St. Louis, and carry back calicoes and other goods in payment for the articles first purchased. We made some money that way. While carrying on this trade I drew the remainder of my money from my friend, Vanleven, and began my preparations for again joining the Saints at Nauvoo. About the middle of April, 1840, I succeeded in securing a good outfit, and with my old friend Stewart, again joined the Saints at Nauvoo. I felt it to be God's will that I must obey the orders of the Prophet, hence my return to the society of the brethren.
Joseph Smith, and his two counselors, his brother Hyrum and Sidney Rigdon, had been released from jail in Richmond, Missouri, and were again at the head of the Church, and directing the energies of the brethren. It was the policy of Joseph Smith to hold the city lots in Nauvoo at a high price, so as to draw money from the rich, but not so high as to prevent the poor from obtaining homes. The poor who lost all their property in following the Church, were presented with a lot free, in the center of the city. The Prophet told them not to sell their lots for less than $800 to $1,000, but to sell for that when offered, then they could take a cheaper lot in the outskirts of the city, and have the money to fix up comfortably. All classes, Jews and Gentiles, were allowed to settle there, one man's money was as good as another. No restrictions were then placed on the people; they had the right to trade with any one that suited them. All classes attended meetings, dances, theatres, and other gatherings, and were permitted to eat and drink together. The outsiders were invited to join in all of our amusements. Ball was a favorite sport with the men, and the Prophet frequently took a hand in the sport. He appeared to treat all men alike, and never condemned a man until he had given him a fair trial to learn what was in him.
Among the first things done was the laying of the foundation of the Temple. When this was done each man was required to do one day's work in every ten days, in quarrying rock or doing other work for the Temple. A company was sent up the Mississippi River to the Pineries to get out lumber for the Temple and other public buildings. The money for city lots went into the Church treasury to purchase materials for the Temple, which could not be supplied by the Saints' own labor.
At the conference in April, 1840, the Prophet delivered a lengthy address upon the history and condition of the Saints. He reminded the brethren that all had suffered alike for the sake of the gospel. The rich and the poor had been brought to a common level by persecution; that many of the brethren were owing debts that they had been forced to contract in order to get out of Missouri alive. He considered it was unchristian-like for the brethren to demand the payment of such debts; that he did not wish to screen any one from the just payment of his debts, but he did think that it would be for the glory of the kingdom if the people would, of their own will, freely forgive each other for all their existing indebtedness, one to the other, then renew their covenants with Almighty God and with each other; refrain from evil, and live their religion; by this means, God's Holy Spirit would support and bless the people. The people were then asked if they were in favor of thus bringing about the year of jubilee. All that felt so inclined were asked to make it known by raising their hands; every hand in the audience was raised. The Prophet then declared all debts of the Saints, to and from each other, forgiven and wiped out. He then gave the following words of advice to the people: "I wish you all to know that because you were justified in taking property from your enemies while engaged in war in Missouri, which was needed to support you, there is now a different condition of things existing. We are no longer at war, and you must stop stealing. When the right time comes we will go in force and take the whole State of Missouri. It belongs to us as our inheritance; but I want no more petty stealing. A man that will steal petty articles from his enemies, will, when occasion offers, steal from his brethren too. Now I command you that you that have stolen, must steal no more. I ask all the brethren to now renew their covenants and start anew to live their religion. If you will do this, and you will forgive my faults, I will forgive you your past sins." The vote was taken on this proposition, and resulted in the unanimous decision of the people to act as requested by the Prophet.
He then continued, saying that he never professed to be a perfect man. Said he, "I have my failings and passions to contend with the same as the greatest stranger to God has. I am tempted the same as you are, my brethren. I am not infallible. All men are subject to temptation, but they are not justified in yielding to their passions and sinful natures. There is a constant warfare between the two natures of man. This is the warfare of the Saints. It is written that the Lord would have a tried people - a people that would be tried as gold is tried by the fire, even seven times tried and purified from the dross of unrighteousness. The chances of all men for salvation are equal. True, some have greater capacity than others, yet the chances for improving our minds and subduing our passions by denying ourselves of all unrighteousness and cultivating the principles of purity are all the same; they are within the reach of every man; all have their free agency; all can lay hold of the promises of eternal life, if they will only be faithful and comply with God's will and obey the priesthood in these last days. Never betray any one, for God hates a traitor, and so do I," said the Prophet. Then he said, "Stand by each other; never desert a friend, especially in the hour of trouble. Remember that our reward consists in doing good acts and not in long prayers like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, who prayed to be seen of men. Never mind what men think of you, if your hearts are right before God. It is written, `Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you.' The first commandment is, `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and strength.' The second commandment is, `Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' Upon these two hang all the law and the the prophets." To more deeply impress these truths upon the minds of his people, the Prophet gave them an account of the man who fell among thieves and was relieved by the stranger, and he also taught us from the Scriptures, as well as by the revelations that he had received from God, that it is humane acts and deeds of kindness, justice and words of truth, that are accounted to man for righteousness; that prayers made to be heard by men, and hypocritical groans, are displeasing to God. The Prophet talked to us plainly, and fully instructed us in our duty and gave the long-faced hypocrites such a lecture that much good was done. I had at that time learned to dread a religious fanatic, and I was pleased to hear the Prophet lay down the law to them. A fanatic is always dangerous, but a religious fanatic is to be dreaded by all men - there is no reason in one of them. I cannot understand how men will blindly follow fanatical teachers. I always demanded a reason for my belief, and hope I will never become a victim of fanaticism.
During the summer of 1840 I built a house and such other buildings as I required on my lot on Warsaw street, and was again able to say I had a home.
The brethren were formed into military companies, that year,
in Nauvoo. Col. A. P. Rockwood was drill master. Rockwood was then a Captain, but was afterwards promoted to Colonel of the Militia or Host of Israel. I was then fourth corporal of a company. The people were regularly drilled and taught military tactics, so that they would be ready to act when the time came for returning to Jackson County, the promised land of our inheritance. Most of my wife's relatives came to Nauvoo that year, and settled near my house.
In 1841 I was sent on a mission through Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. I also visited portions of Arkansas. I traveled in company, on that mission, with Elder Franklin Edwards. I about speaking in towns or cities. I felt that I had not sufficient experience to justify me in doing so. My comrade had less experience than I had, and the worst of it, he would not study to improve his mind or permit me to study in quiet. He was negligent, and did not pay sufficient attention to secret prayer, to obtain that nearness to God that is so necessary for a minister to have if he expects his works to be blessed with Divine favor. I told him he must do better, or go home. He promised to do better; also agreed that he would do the begging for food and lodging, and I might do the preaching. I accepted the offer, and in this way we got along well and pleasantly for some time.
At the crossing of the Forkadeer River we staid over night with the ferryman, and were well entertained. When we left the ferry, the old gentleman told us that we would be in a settlement of Methodist people that evening, and that they were set in their notions, and hated Mormons as bad as the Church of England hated the Methodists, and if we got food or shelter amongst them, he would be mistaken. He said for us to begin to ask for lodging by at least an hour by sun, or we would not get it. In the after part of the day we remembered the advice of the morning and stopped at every house. The houses were about half a mile apart. We were refused at every house. The night came on dark and stormy, the rain fell in torrents, while heavy peals of thunder and bright flashes of lightning were constant, or seemed so to me. The timber was very heavy, making the night appear darker than it would otherwise have been. The road was badly cut up with heavy freight teams passing over it, and the holes were full or water. We fell into many holes of mud and water, and were soon well soaked. About ten o'clock we called at the house of a Methodist class leader, and asked him for lodging and food. He asked who we were. We told him that we were Mormon preachers. As soon as he heard the name Mormon, he became enraged, and said no Mormon could stay in his house. We started on. Soon afterwards we heard him making efforts to set his dogs on us. The dogs came running and barking, as a pack of hounds always do. Brother Edwards was much frightened, but I told him not to be scared, I would protect him. So when the dogs came near us I commenced to clap my hands and shouted like the fox was just ahead of us; this caused the whole pack of dogs to rush on and leave us in safety. In this way we escaped injury from the pack of ten or more dogs that the Methodist had put on our trail. The next house we came to we were again refused shelter or food. I asked for permission to sit under his porch until the rain stopped. "No" said he, "if you were not Mormons, I would gladly entertain you, but as you are Mormons I dare not permit you to stop around me." This made twenty-one houses that we had stopped at and asked for lodging, and at each place had been refused, simply because we were Mormons. About midnight my partner grew very sick of his contract to do the begging, and was resolved to die before he would ask for aid from such people again. I told him I would have both food and lodging at the next place we stopped. He said it was useless to make the attempt, and I confess that the numerous refusals we had met with were calculated to dishearten many a person, but I had faith in God. I had never yet gone to Him in an humble and penitent manner without receiving strength to support me, nor had he ever sent me empty-handed from Him. My trust was in God, and I advanced to the next house confident that I would not ask in vain. As we approached the house we discovered that some negroes were having a dance. I asked where their master was; they pointed out the house to me. We walked to the house, and up on the porch. The door was standing open, a candle was burning, and near the fire a woman was sitting holding a sick child on her lap. The man was also sitting near the fire. Our footsteps attracted their attention; our appearance was not inviting as we stood there wet, muddy and very tired. I spoke in a loud voice, saying, "Sir, I beseech you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to entertain us as servants of the living God. We are ministers of the gospel, we travel without purse or scrip; we preach without hire, and are now without money; we are wet, weary and hungry; we want refreshments, rest and shelter." The man sprang to his feet, but did not say a word. His wife said, "Tell them to come in." I said, "We will do you no harm, we are friends, not enemies." We were invited in. Servants were called, a good fire was made and a warm supper placed before us. After eating we were shown to a good bed. We slept until near ten o'clock in the morning. When we did awaken, our clothes were clean and dry, and a good breakfast was ready and waiting for us. In fact, we were as well treated as it was possible to ask for.
This family had lately come from the State of Virginia, intending to try that climate for a year, and then if they liked it, they intended to purchase land and stay there permanently. After breakfast, the gentleman said, "You had a severe time of it amongst the Christians yesterday and last night. As you are ministers, sent out to convert sinners, you cannot do better than to preach to these Christians, and seek to convert them. He offered to send word all over the settlement, and notify the people, if we would only stay there and preach that night. We accepted his offer, and remained that day; thus securing the rest that we so much needed, and thanking God for still remembering and caring for us, His servants.
Agreeably to arrangements, previously made, we preached in the Methodist meeting-house, to a very attentive audience, upon the subject of the first principles of the gospel; alluded to the treatment of Christ and his followers by the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious sects of those days, and that we preached the same gospel, and fared but little better. This meeting- house was built on the line between the Methodists and Universalists. Members from both persuasions were present. Our neighbor, who fed and cared for us, leaned to the latter faith. At the close of our remarks, the class-leader, who had set the hounds on our track, was the first to the stand to invite us home with him.
I told him that the claims of those who did not set their dogs on us, after they had turned us from their doors hungry, were first with me - that his claims with me were an after consideration. He said it was his negro boys that sent the hounds after us, but be would not be bluffed. He said that one of us had to go with him - that if I would not go Frank must go. I told him that Elder Edwards could use his own pleasure, but I would hold a meeting that night with those Universalist brethren, and thus we parted. Elder Edwards went to spend the night with the class-leader, and attended the meeting with the friends who had invited him home with them. I had a good time. Of their own accord they made up a collection of a few dollars, as a token of their regard for me. I was to meet Elder Edwards at the house of my friend, who took us in at midnight from the storm, by an hour by sun, to start on; but he did not put in his appearance for an hour or more. When he got within talking distance I saw by his features that he had been roughly dealt with. His first words were, "That is the wickedest old man that I ever met with, and if he don't repent God will curse him." That was enough, and I began to laugh. I conceived what he had to encounter the long night before. He said, "If the Lord will forgive me for going this time I will never go again, without you are along." I said to him, "Frank, experience teaches a dear school, yet fools will not learn at any other. I knew what treatment you would receive, and refused to go with him. If you had been a wise man you would have taken the hint and kept away from him."
We made our way through to Overton County, Tennessee. Here I advised my friend Edwards to return back to Nauvoo, and gave him money to pay his fare on a steamer, as he was cut out for anything but a preacher.
At Carlisle, the county seat of Overton County, I met with a young man, an elder, by the name of Dwight Webster. Though but little experienced, he was a man of steady habits and an agreeable companion. We held a number of meetings together in this part of the country. Webster and Moses had been companions together, and met with much opposition. Webster and I baptized several persons, and made a true friend of a wealthy merchant, named Armstrong, who welcomed us to his house and placed us under his protection. He also owned a large establishment in Louisville, Kentucky. He was an infidel, though an honorable and high-minded gentleman. His wife Nancy, and her sister Sarah, were both baptized.
While here I received a letter from James Pace, one of my near neighbors in Nauvoo, requesting me to visit his brother, William Pace, and his relatives in Rutherford County, Tenn. Elder A. 0. Smoot and Dr. David Lewis succeeded us in this county and in Jackson County, Tenn., and added many to those whom we had already baptized. We made our way through to Stone River, preaching by the way, as opportunity occurred. Here I handed my letter of introduction to William Pace, brother of my neighbor James Pace, who received us very kindly and procured us the liberty of holding forth in the Campbellite Chapel. Here we were informed that the Campbellite preachers were heavy on debate, that none of the other sects could stand before them, and that they dare not meet them in public or private discussion. I replied that my trust was in God, that the message I had to bear was from Heaven - that if it would not bear the scrutiny of man I did not want to stand by it, but if it was of God, He would not suffer His servants to be confounded, if they were only honorable and trusted in him.
Truth is mighty and will prevail; Error cannot stand before Truth. If these men can overthrow the gospel which I preach, the sooner they do it the better for me. I do not wish to deceive any one, or to deceive myself. If any one can point out an error in the gospel which I preach, I am willing to drop that error, and exchange it for truth.
The hour came, we both spoke. We spoke on the first principles of the gospel of Christ, as taught by the Saviour and his apostles. Before sitting down I extended the courtesy to any gentleman that wished, to reply or offer any remarks either for or against what we had set forth. Parson Hall, the presiding Campbellite minister, was on his feet in a moment and denounced us as impostors. He said we were holding forth a theory that was fulfilled in Christ; that the canon of Scripture being full, these spiritual gifts that were spoken of in the New Testament were done away with, being no longer necessary; that as for the "Golden Bible" (Book of Mormon), that was absurd in the extreme, as there were to be no other books or revelations granted. He quoted the revelations of St. John in his support, where it reads, "He that addeth to, or diminisheth from the words of the prophecies and this Book, shall have the plagues herein written added to his torment, or words to that effect." I followed him in the discussion, and quoted John where it reads, "He that speaketh not according to the law and the testimony hath no light in him." I said that my authority and testimony were from the Bible, the book of the law of the Lord, which all Christian believers hold as a sacred rule of their faith and practice. To that authority I hoped my worthy friend would not object. I illustrated my position by further quotations from the Scriptures, and when our meeting was over the people flocked around us in a mass, to shake hands with us and invite us to their houses - the Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians especially. The planters in this county were mostly wealthy, and prided themselves on being hospitable and kind to strangers, especially to ministers of the gospel. We went from house to house and preached from two to three times a week. We saw that the seed had already been sown in honest hearts and we were near to them. Knowing the danger of being lifted up by self-approbation, I determined to be on my guard, to attend to secret prayer, and reading and keeping diaries. When at our friend Pace's house we would frequently resort to a lonely grove to attend to prayer and read to ourselves.