MORMON STUDIES PRESENTS:
THE EARLY DAYS OF MORMONISM
By James H. Kennedy
Part Three of Four Parts
[ Pages 111-188 ]
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[ 111 ]
MIRACLES, AND THE GIFT OF TONGUES.
THE desire to make the best possible financial use of the enlarging opportunities that chance and circumstances had thrown into their hands, led the Mormon leaders to establish a bank, through which the final overthrow of their power at Kirtland was largely brought about. An application was made to the Ohio Legislature for a charter, but the request was refused. As the enterprise had been announced and commanded in a special revelation, which declared that this bank would ultimately "swallow up all other banks," nothing remained except to go forward as a private institution and take the chances of success. A nominal capital of four million dollars, based upon a large amount of real estate of not much value and by no means paid for, was announced, and the doors of the institution opened. Through much labor, begging, and borrowing, an actual capital of five thousand dollars was finally raised, and upon the strength of this, paper money, or rather mere printed promissory notes, to the amount of from fifty to one hundred thousand dollars were set afloat.
This bank, of course, had no bonds or other securities anywhere upon deposit, and depended solely for its strength and credit upon the financial responsibility
and honesty of its managers. These were sufficient for the Mormons, who accepted the paper notes without suspicion, and soon came to look upon them as the safest and best medium of commercial transactions, the more especially as many of them were looking daily for an overturn and destruction of all things outside of Mormonism.
Their example was an encouragement to the people elsewhere in Northeastern Ohio, and it was not long before the paper was in general circulation. A Pittsburgh banker thus described the situation: "As this man (Smith) professes to be a prophet of the Lord, having daily communion with angels.... no one supposed that they would leave things to a fraudulent ,issue of bank paper. Those who saw the notes supposed the bank to be simply a savings institution in which the Saints could deposit their earnings, while they would be invested so as to pay interest and that the notes represented actual money in bank, or the paper of good men." Smith announced that the bank was not established for the making of money for the use of its managers, but that all profits were to be devoted to the propagation of the faith, and the building up of the City of the Saints in Missouri. The narration of events transpiring in the West will be deferred for the present, and the history of Kirtland continued until the close.
During the summer of 1832 Smith was very busy, making sure of that which he had already established, and laying plans for greater gains and achievements in the future. He continued the translation of the Scriptures, established a School of the Prophets, and attended to the publication of The Evening and
Morning Star. Everything was made tributary to his cause, and even the cholera, which had made its appearance in America and was doing its fatal work in a number of the larger cities, was cited as a warning to the world to turn from the error of its ways and accept the new prophet and his creed. Step after step was taken along the road of fraud and delusion to which he had become so thoroughly committed, and in which his success had already exceeded his wildest dreams. When firm in one position, he advanced to another. Having visible proof that his power for divine things was accepted, he added a new phase of belief on January 22, 1833, when the "Gift of tongues" was made manifest. It was of a nature to appeal with personal force to the most ignorant and insignificant of his followers, as it allowed any one of them to claim connection direct with the power on high, and to deliver themselves of any jargon of nonsense to which their imagination might be moved, or their ingenuity be able to compass.
The manner in which this "gift" was displayed was original and unique. A meeting would be called, and previous thereto the announcement made that some one would be moved to "speak with tongues" before dismissal. Each believer who attended carried with him the solemn possibility of being the chosen mouthpiece of the Most High, and was in a mood to accept and obey any emotional impulse by which he might be moved. Rigdon or Smith would be in attendance, and call upon some one to arise and deliver the message with which he was charged, saying, " Father A, if you will rise in the name of Jesus Christ, you can speak in tongues."
The old gentleman. would stand up in a startled, half-scared mood, and perhaps say, "My faith fails me, I have not faith enough,"
"Oh, yes, you have," from the leader; "speak in the name of Jesus Christ, make some sound without further thought, and God will make it a language The old gentleman would therefore mutter any unintelligible sounds that came to his aid, and no matter what he said, it would be called a tongue. Others would follow in the same strain, some talking, some singing, and others furnishing a mixture of the two. The rule given to believers was as follows: "Arise upon your feet, speak or make some sound, continue to make sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a tongue or language of it." The interpretation of what was said was' to be given in the same way. After the nonsense had been voiced, some other brother was to arise and translate it, and whatever he happened to utter on the spur of the moment, was to be regarded as the true exposition of that which had been previously heard.'
The description of one of these meetings will suffice for all, and convey to the reader of modem days some idea of the manner in which Joe Smith controlled and directed the flock that had intrusted itself to his care. The account has been furnished by an eye-witness, * who was at that time a believer in Mormonism, but afterward forsook it. The gathering was held in a small upper room, and some fifteen elders and high-priests were present.
Exhortations, something after the style of the
* "Mormonism and the Mormons," p. 88.
backwoods camp-meeting, were delivered by several of the elders, when the Prophet himself arose. With much seeming earnestness he warned his hearers to be zealous, and to remain faithful to their duties, saying, "It is our privilege to see God face to face -- yes, I will prophesy unto you, in the name of the Lord, that the day will come when no man will be permitted to preach unless he has seen the Lord. People will ask each teacher, 'Have you seen the face of the Lord?' and if he say 'Nay,' they will say, 'Away with this fellow, for we will have a man to teach us that has seen the face of the Lord.'
After a few moments of solemn pause the Prophet resumed: "The Lord is willing we should see his glory to-day, and all that will exercise faith, shall see the Lord of glory."
There was a moment of longing expectancy among those who had laid their simple faith at the feet of Joseph, and who bore patiently in their hearts the hope that at last the long wish and desire was to be granted, and that their souls would be rested and sustained by one glance from the Most High. Ali sat silent in their seats, with eyes bent upon the floor.
Then Joseph turned to Rigdon, and in a voice full of solemn earnestness, asked, "Sidney, have you seen the Lord?"
Then came the slow-spoken answer: "I saw the image of a man pass before my face, whose locks were white, and whose countenance was exceedingly fair, even surpassing all beauty that I ever beheld."
I knew you had seen a vision, Sidney, but would have seen more, were it not for unbelief."
With penitent air Rigdon confessed that his faith
was indeed weak that day; while others away down upon the back seats were sad in heart because even that much of Heaven's blessing had been denied them.
Hyrum, Smith described a vision like that granted unto Rigdon, which Joseph pronounced to have been the appearance of the Son of Man himself.
Then one of the leaders, R. Cahoon, fell upon his knees, holding his hands heavenward, In ten minutes he arose, and declared that he "had seen the temple of Zion, filled with disciples, while the top was covered with the glory of the Lord, in the form of a cloud." Others who essayed to follow his experience declared they could see nothing, and were duly rebuked because of weakness of faith.
Joseph next passed about the room, and laid his hand upon the head of each one present, uttering a series of unmeaning sounds which to the ear of the narrator ran something like this: "Ah man oh son oh man ah ne commene en holle goste en esac miles, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nephi, Lehi, St. John," etc.
Sacrament was administered, after which there was more speaking in tongues, which at times elicited applause. The narrator was himself finally called upon to give an exhibition of his faith, and was told to speak or sing as suited him best. Feeling no divine supply of words, he set, to the tune of "Bruce's Address," a combination of such sounds as came to him first a performance, he remarks, that "astonished all present." The whole day was given up to the services of this character, accompanied with fasting.
This attempt to engraft upon Mormonism a weak imitation of the wonders that befell the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth upon the day of Pentecost, was
probably of more injury than aid to the cause, as it opened the road to ridicule and exposure, which was made of good use by the Gentile world. One apostate from the church at Nauvoo, in later days, dates the first growth of doubt in his mind from attendance upon a meeting where this ceremony was being performed. Having thorough acquaintance with the Choctaw language he suddenly arose and delivered a long address in that tongue and was followed by a brother Mormon, who gravely translated it into an account of the glories of the great temple then in course of construction. Lieutenant Gunnison * relates the story of a boy who had become so famous in the interpretation of these strange addresses that he was called upon by the elders when any very difficult case presented itself. On one occasion when a woman arose suddenly in the meeting and called out, "O mela, meli, melee," the lad was requested to reduce the exclamation to English. He promptly gave the translation, "O my leg, my thigh, my knee," and even when the angry and disgusted elders had him before the council, he persisted that he had given the right translation. As the woman herself did not know what she had been aiming at, they were compelled to give him an admonition, and let him go.
Eliza R. Snow, the Mormon poetess who afterward
* "History of the Mormons." By J. W. Gunnison, Philadelphia, 1852; In Lovell's late edition, on p. 74.
The following, from the Salt Lake Herald of December 8, 1887, records the end of the long and eventful life of this earnest believer in Mormonism: "Eliza R. Snow Smith died in the Lion House a few minutes past one o'clock Monday morning.... being at the time of her death eighty-three years old.... She had been closely
won some sort of fame by her doleful muse, and who had been lured from her home in Mantua by the eloquence of Rigdon in the early Mormon days, was supposed to 'be unusually favored in the gift of tongues, and often in the days of early wanderings would rush into the room of some woman and cry, "Sister, I want to bless you." She would then lay her hands upon the head of the other, and pour forth a stream of jargon in unlimited length.
All through the earlier days of his career, Smith made a persistent endeavor to repeat the mysteries and even the miracles of Bible times, and many stories might be related of his attempts. When he met with failure, as he usually did, he found some cause in the depth of his ingenuity, and dismissed the matter with as few words as possible. When through happy accident, legerdemain, or the unconscious nervous cooperation of his subject, he was able to accomplish that which was out of the usual line, he gave credit to divine power, and saw that the fact was duly heralded to the world,
The case of Newell Knight has been often cited in support of Smith's claims, and is dwelt upon at length in his autobiography. It was in the early days of Mormonism, and Smith was exciting attention by his performances in his old home in the East,
Knight had been greatly exercised over his spiritual
identified with the church in its early history, and was with the leaders during the troublous scenes in Missouri and other places, and in 1847 came to Salt Lake.... Before and since that time her life has been prominently before the public, and to enlarge upon her kindly qualities, her literary abilities, or her worth as a woman, would be simply to repeat facts that nearly every one is cognizant of."
condition and often went into the forest to pray for enlightenment. He became mentally and physically sick, and while in this pliable and receptive condition, his wife sent for Smith. The world has Joseph's own story * concerning what next happened: "I went, and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner, his visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine, and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment and tossed about most fearfully.
"His situation was soon made known to the neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with very great earnestness required of me that I should cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew that he was in him, and that he also knew I could cast him out. I replied, 'If you know that I can, it shall be done,' and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him, when immediately Newell spoke out and said that he saw the devil leave him, and vanish from his sight. This was the first miracle that was done in this church." Newell was "overwhelmed with the good spirit, and joyous beyond expression," and was lifted up by invisible power from the floor to the roof, until "the beams would allow him to go no further."
He afterward declared that when the devil departed
* "Rocky Mountain Saints," p. 33.
from him, he bore the form of a black cat and ran into the bush.
Before Smith left Palmyra, one Green, who had joined the Mormon Church and deeded it his property to aid in the removal to Kirtland, was suddenly called out of life. His widow refused to sanction the contract until prayers had been offered for the return of his soul to its tenement of clay. As the petitions met no response, she still refused to yield her possessions, but failed to retain them. Several reputable people who resided in Minerva declared that Smith set a day for the village to sink, but afterward repented of his curse and withdrew it.
Upon another occasion, while still in New York, he made announcement that in the twilight of a certain evening he would walk upon the water. The unbelieving boys of the village kept close watch, and saw one of his adherents construct a bridge of boards just beneath the surface of the pond. When the accomplice had gone, the urchins removed the outer plank; and when the time of exhibition came and Smith went down, he swam ashore, and said to his followers, "Woe unto ye of little faith! Your faith would not hold me up!" *
Upon one occasion when John Morse, an aged convert to Mormonism, had been called to his last account, Smith was asked by his weeping and believing friends to recall him to life. The Prophet looked upon the body long and steadily, and then remarked that he should let him rest -- he would not return him to his suffering, as he was so old that he would soon
* I confess to no good authority for this anecdote; but it is characteristic, and may be true.
die again! "This," it has been said, "was something like Brigham's refusal to restore a lost leg to one of his Mormons, on the ground that if he did it the man would be obliged to walk on three legs all through eternity" his new one, and the two original legs that would be raised with him in the resurrection day. *
The chief claim for the possession of miraculous power put forward by Smith, and the one most often and effectually quoted by the Mormon missionaries in the days in which it occurred, is the remarkable cure of Mrs. Johnson, of Hiram. The case is well authenticated; and those who seek to explain it away will be compelled to base themselves upon mesmeric influence or the unconscious nervous co-operation of the lady affected, rather than in cunning upon the part of Smith. It seems to have been simply a case where his audacity was rewarded with an accident of fortune it by no means deserved.
When Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder were investigating Mormonism, and the latter had not yet fully committed himself thereto, they determined to put Smith's claims to a crucial test. Their neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, had been unable to use her right arm 'for six years, because of a stroke of paralysis. Accompanied by this lady -- her husband, and a physician, the two orthodox ministers set out for Kirtland, and made a call upon Smith. Nothing was said to him concerning
* Smith's reputation as a Prophet, which had spread through all the land, brought him many annoyances that had their grotesque side. In November, 1835, another "Prophet," named Matthias, from the East, called upon him, but was not made as welcome as he expected. He soon departed, declaring that Smith was a false prophet, and possessed of a devil; which exactly tallied with a description of himself, as already given by Smith
the main purpose of their visit, but a discussion was opened as to the truth of the new doctrine that had created such turmoil in their midst. Smith held his own with unusual eloquence. In the course of the conversation Ryder asked him if it was true that he pretended to the performance of miracles.
"I cannot work miracles, to was the response, "but I believe that God working through me, can do so."
At a signal from one of the party, Mrs. Johnson stood before him. Said Mr. Ryder, "Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now upon earth to cure her?"
Smith must have felt that it was the moment to try the soul of any man not grounded in a perfect knowledge as to the power at his command, but to the eyes of those present he betrayed no fear. A calm assurance upheld him. Moving backward a few steps he looked intently into the eyes of the lady, as if to get her under his mental control.
Then he moved to her side, and taking hold of her palsied hand, said in a deep and solemn tone, "Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole! With no further word or look, he abruptly turned, and left the room. The hand that he had lifted did not fall. The lady attempted to move it, and found that it was once more under her control. Upon her return home she discovered that she could use it equally with the other, and thus it remained until her death, fifteen years later. *
* From a sermon preached in Hiram, O., on August 3, 1870, by B. A. Hinsdale, then President of Hiram College, after a narration of the above circumstance: "The company were awe-stricken at
Fanatic zeal, credulity, and imposition seemed to be in the very air; and even yet the visitor who crosses the narrow Chagrin and stands before the old temple, can find men and women to whom many strange things seemed real, and who remember the vagaries of hundreds whose simple faith was worthy of a nobler shrine. In the days immediately following the advent of the four apostles from Palmyra and the conversion of Rigdon, the excitement and the expectation of marvellous spiritual gifts grew to so intense a pitch that Smith, upon his arrival, was compelled to resort to repressive measures of the most rigid character.
If we may accept without hesitation the testimony of Mr. Eber D. Howe, * the scenes among the new converts were of a character hardly Surpassed by the devotees of Oriental lands. "They pretended," says he, "that the power of miracles was about to be given to all those who embraced the new
the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock -- I know not how better to explain the well-attested fact-electrified the rheumatic arm. Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain."
* Mr. Howe was the descendant of a well-known New England family, and was born in Clifton Park, New York, on June 9, 1793, and died at Painesville, Ohio, on November 10, 1885. He founded the Painesville Telegraph in 1822. When the Mormons made their appearance in Ohio in 1830, Mr. Howe chronicled all their movements, and in 1834 published a book, entitled "Mormonism Unveiled," which caused wrath and confusion among the Saints, and opened the eyes of the people to the proceedings at Kirtland. The volume has now been out of print for over forty years. For above account see page 104.
faith, and commenced communicating the Holy Spirit by laying their hands upon the heads of the converts, which operation at first produced an instantaneous prostration of body and mind. Many would fall upon the floor, where they would lay for a long time apparently lifeless. They thus continued these enthusiastic exhibitions for several weeks. The fits usually came on during or after their prayer-meetings, which were held nearly every evening. The young men and women were more particularly subject to this delirium. They would exhibit all the apish actions imaginable, making the most ridiculous grimaces, creeping upon their hands and feet, rolling upon the frozen ground, go through with all the Indian modes of warfare, such as knocking down, scalping, ripping open, and tearing out the bowels.
"At other times they would run through the fields, get upon stumps, preach to imaginary congregations, enter the water and perform all the ceremony of baptizing, etc. Many would have fits of speaking all the different Indian dialects, which none could understand. Again, at the dead hour of night, the young men might be seen running over the fields and hills in pursuit, as they said, of the balls of fire, lights, etc., which they saw moving through the atmosphere.... Three of them pretended to have received commissions to preach, from the skies. .One of the young men referred to freely acknowledged some months afterward that he knew not what he did for two or three weeks."
These half-insane vagaries caused such adverse commotion in the neighborhood, that Smith saw he must put his foot squarely down upon them if he hoped his
scheme would succeed, and it soon became known that no one must pretend to have communications with the upper powers but himself.
The men who had been sent into the Gentile world to warn it against the wrath to come, did not hesitate to work when possible upon the superstitious fears of their hearers. Many who listened made haste to escape the threatened wrath, and sold their possessions for such price as they could command, and hurrying to Kirtland, cast their lot in with the Mormon Church. It was preached through Western New York that the State would be sunk within two years, and that only such places as were designated as Stakes of Zion would escape. Even Martin Harris began to prophesy, and the following samples of his new art have been preserved to the world:
" Within four years from September, 1832, there will not be one wicked person left in the United States; that the righteous will be gathered to Zion (Missouri), and that there will be no President over these United States after that time." Second: "I do hereby assert and declare that within four years from the date hereof, every sectarian and religious de. nomination in the United States shall be broken down, and every Christian shall be gathered unto the Mormonites, and the rest of the human race shall perish. If these things do not take place, I will hereby con. sent to have my hands separated from my body."
With these prophecies, and one attempt at a miracle, Martin seems to have remained content. While marching westward as a member of Smith's famous army of relief, he discovered in. the road a black snake, some five feet in length. Declaring that power had
been given him to "take up serpents" unharmed, he took off his shoes and stockings and offered his toes to the mouth of the serpent. As the reptile made no effort to harm him, he made boast of his success, and was looked upon by his associates as favored above most men. Not content with this much of victory, he repeated the experiment with the next serpent of the same variety, a few rods further on. The snake promptly bit him in the leg, drawing blood, and making an ugly but not dangerous wound.
The subjoined prophecy, issued by Smith in 1832, may be taken as an illustration of the many random expressions to which he gave utterance in the early days, but which afterward confronted him because of their non-fulfillment: Let the bishop go into the City of New York, and also to the City of Albany, and also to the City of Boston, and warn the people of these cities, with the sound of the Gospel, with a loud voice, of the desolation and the dread affliction which awaits them, if they do reject this thing for if they do reject these things, the hour of their judgment is nigh, and their houses shall be left unto them desolate."
Oliver Cowdery at one time essayed the role of a miraculous healer, but the results of his experiment were not of a character to encourage him to further efforts. He was called to the relief of a young woman who had been confined to her bed for two years. He prayed over her, laid hands upon her, and in the name of Jesus bade her arise and walk. There was no movement upon her part. On the day following he persuaded her to leave her bed at the repetition of the command, and make the attempt. She had hardly
taken two steps when she fell in a fainting fit, and being removed to her couch, remained there. In explanation of his failure the disciple followed the course of the Prophet when in close quarters, and explained it all to the satisfaction of Mormondom -- he first denied the trial, and upon being confronted with witnesses, explained that if he did order her to walk, it was only as a joke.
A Painesville man was in the last stages of consumption. Cowdery declared he could cure him, while the more vehement Rigdon made declaration that he would get well "as sure as there was a God in heaven!" The man soon afterward died. The declaration of Rigdon in this case was equalled by that made by him at another time, when he stated that an angel had appeared to him and commanded him 'to visit Queen Victoria, and "hurl her from her throne" if she should refuse to embrace Mormonism. There is no evidence of any attempt upon his part to carry out these instructions.
Some of the Saints believed they had no need of physicians or medicines, as all diseases could be cured by the laying on of hands. One poor young dupe, named Doty, who was but twenty years of age, was made a martyr to his belief. He had deluded himself into the idea that he was to live a thousand years, and when laid low with fever refused all medical aid, saying he would be about in a few days. Several of the Mormon elders called upon him, and encouraged him in his delusion by telling him that he was improving, when even they could see that he was dying, and soon left him to his fate. Smith came once, and sat for a time with his hands upon the head of the poor boy,
and then went away. When Doty at last realized his condition, his delusion fell away from him like a rot. ten garment, and he lost all faith in the Mormon creed. Said he to one of his callers, "What a wonderful mis. take I have made! You may profit by my experience, but for me it is too late!"
The hand of an elder was badly twisted out of shape as the result of an accident, and the Prophet was asked to straighten it. Taking the injured member in his hand, he said: "Brother Murdock, in the name of the Lord I command you to straighten your hand," at the same time using all his muscular strength to open the other palm. The result was an utter failure. The command was repeated in a still louder voice, but the hand remained set, and Smith was compelled to abandon the attempt.
Another elder was lame. Smith told him to arise and be whole. The man had sufficient faith for the attempt, but when he endeavored to walk he hobbled as badly as ever, and continued to for the remainder of his life. The child of a M6rmon was taken sick. The father was anxious to procure a physician, but the elders persuaded him to the contrary, and declared the little one would recover. They laid hands upon it, and repeated many mummeries over it, and ordered it to improve; but it rapidly sank, and was soon no more. Rigdon told the parents it would be raised again, and he and Smith actually prepared to make the attempt. The father was even yet full of faith, but when he saw all Mormondom stand helpless as the beloved form was laid away in the tomb, the shadows passed from his vision, and he turned his back upon Mormonism forever.
Smith made his power felt in every movement, and at every turn of public affairs. He was unburdened of revelations almost daily, ofttimes concerning the most trivial things. When be uttered his fiat, that decision must be regarded as the word of the Lord, and end all controversy. For instance, two elders who bad been splitting theological hairs equal to the abstruse absurdities of the Middle Ages, approached him with a request that he would decide this question: Will a bucket of water grow heavier when a live fish is placed in it? He promptly decided in the negative, adding the conclusion, "I know by the spirit that it will be no heavier." * He claimed to have constant access to the inhabitants of the upper world, seeing them with his spiritual rather than his natural vision, and with his eyes shut or open. He was once heard to describe an angel as a "tall, slim, well-built,
* John Hyde, the Mormon apostate, has related an instance which may be quoted in connection with the above. He says: One very striking illustration of this mental abnegation occurred in the late Doctor Richards' office in 1854. Mr. Thomas Bullock, Mr. Leo Hawkins, and some others were talking to Kimball about the resurrection. The Mormons believe in a literal physical resurrection, and were desirous to learn 'whether, when the body came forth from the grave, it would leave a visible hole in the ground?' 'No,' said Kimball, 'not at all, the atoms would be reunited, and they won't leave no hole.' He proceeded to explain his reasons for this opinion, and presently Brigham came in, when this import. ant question was referred to him, for his prophetic decision.
"'Why, yes, certainly it will,' was his verdict. 'Christ is the pattern, you know; and He had to have the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, and that left the hole visible, for did not the soldiers see it?'
"'Brother Brigham!' immediately cried Kimball, I that is just my opinion!’"' -- "Mormonism: Its Leaders and Designs," by John Hyde, Jr., formerly a Mormon Elder. New York, page 126.
handsome man, with a bright pillar upon his head;" and the devil came once in the same form, except that the pillar upon his head was coal black. The shooting stars of November, 1833, were declared by him to be signs of the second coming of Christ, and he returned thanks for their appearance.
Never free from the influence of the old money-digging days, Smith would at times encourage his followers by wonderful tales of hidden riches in New York State, which the Mormons would be able to discover and appropriate, as soon as they became sufficiently pure.
KIRTLAND STAKE OF ZION, AND BRIGHAM YOUNG.
ON February 15, 1833, Smith announced that his translation of the New Testament was complete, but that he had been commanded to seal it up, and so keep it until they should arrive at Zion. Three days later, when the high-priests were assembled in the school of the Prophets, Joseph laid hands on Rigdon and Frederick Williams, and ordained them councillors of the presidency; and these two, with the Prophet, constituted the government of the high-priests. On the 23rd of this same month, at a meeting of these governing powers, it was decided to purchase all the land at Kirtland that their resources could command, and build a branch of Zion.
The building of a grand temple at Kirtland, in which the power and prosperity of the Mormon Church were to be shown, was among the earliest desires of Smith, and he made use of every means and power at his command for the accomplishment of that end. Its construction was made the subject of a special revelation, received upon May 6th. Besides the tithes that were to be paid into the treasury as a building fund, each Mormon was compelled to give one-seventh of his time in labor. It was at first ordered that it should be of brick, but as some difficulty was experienced on this point, a change was made to rough stone, plastered over, painted blue,
and marked to imitate regular courses in masonry. The first stone was laid on July 24th. Joseph Bump, of Silver Creek, N. Y., was appointed master builder, and each night was handed a special revelation concerning the work of the following day. The structure as finally decided upon was sixty by eighty feet in size, and one hundred and twenty feet from its base to the top of the spire. The work of construction was pushed forward as rapidly as circumstances and means would permit, but two years elapsed before its completion.
The growth of the church was rapid during these days, and while many were still coming to Kirtland, or joining the settlement in the West, zealous and hard-working missionaries were preaching the new faith 'in all corners of the land. Their success was such, that within three years after the arrival of Smith in Ohio, Mormon societies had been organized in nearly all of the Eastern and Middle States. Smith found occupation for every moment of his time, and his powers seemed to enlarge with the demands upon them. We see him returning from still another visit to the West, to take up with renewed vigor the internal administration of the church. He delivers a message defining the orders of Melchisedek and Aaron; orders the twelve apostles forth to new missionary efforts; collects money for the building of the temple; and at a meeting of the council it is declared that these and like labors shall have some recognition, and it is therefore ordered that he shall not only have his expenses paid, but a salary of ten dollars per week -- a like sum being voted him for the payment of his private secretary.
An episode that possessed a grotesque side, and proved something concerning the ignorance and credulity of the Mormon rank and file, had its beginning in July of this year, when one Michael H. Chandler, who was travelling through America exhibiting a collection of curiosities, of which several Egyptian mummies were a part, made a halt at Kirtland. His goods were for sale, and as Smith had evinced a desire to possess these ancient strangers from the land made famous by Joseph and his brethren, his wish was gratified by the church, and the purchase made. Upon the bodies were discovered papyri, which Joseph had no sooner seen than he proceeded to read the writings thereon with ease. The "genial showman," who probably knew as much ancient Egyptian as Smith himself, and no more, recognized in the Mormon leader a kindred spirit, and unhesitatingly endorsed his translation of the scroll, in the following somewhat remarkable certificate:
"This is to make known to all who may be desirous concerning the knowledge of Mr. Jos. Smith, Jr., in deciphering the ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic characters in my possession, which I have in many cities shown to the most learned, and from all the information that I could ever learn or meet with, I find that of Joseph Smith, Jr., to correspond in the most minute matters,
"MICHAEL H. CHANDLER,
Traveling with, and proprietor of
If Joseph's information was correct, a bargain of rare character had indeed been made in this
Assisted by W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery as secretaries, he immediately set himself to work upon the translation, and "much to our joy," he writes, "we found that one of these rolls contained the writings of Abraham; another the writings of Joseph. Truly we could see that the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of truth,"
The fact that Smith's translations were altogether different in language and meaning, from those afterward made by an eminent European scholar, does not seem to have disturbed the Mormons in the least. A gentleman who called at the temple, accompanied by a couple of ladies, soon after the mummies were received, tells me' that be was compelled to pay the Patriarch, to which title the elder Joseph Smith was ordained in December, 1833, a half-dollar for a sight of these precious relics. A dingy scroll hung on the wall. "That," said their aged guide, "is the hand-writing of Abraham." Near by was a picture, in which a ladder was represented leaning against a wall. "This is Jacob's ladder," was his explanation. "But I thought," said one of the ladies, "that his ladder was much longer than that -- reaching clear to Heaven" -- at which the Patriarch was greatly offended, and marched the party out of the temple.
These ancient additions to the curious things already found in Kirtland, gave the enemies of the surrounding country and neighboring towns further food for ridicule and contempt. The half-ocular and good-natured spirit with which the new religion and its Prophet had been at first received, gave place to anger and fear, as the demands and boasts of the Saints as to their intentions, and final victory over all non-believers,
grew more loud and frequent. Many visitors came to Kirtand, and the prying curiosity of some of these, and the open criticisms of others, added fuel to the growing flame; and it needs no close investigation to see the wisdom of the Mormon leaders, as they laid their plans and carried forward their purpose, of an early migration to a less settled portion of the country.
The world has hardly dealt justly by the Mormons in its treatment of this portion of their early history. It is difficult now, after the lapse of half a century, to enter into the home life and personal experiences of the members of this little community, so strangely set apart from the current course of the world, alien from the homes and churches to which they had formerly belonged, and counted as foes by the people located round about them. The impressions and incidents, few at best, placed upon record by such as did look in upon them, were mainly printed with some purpose against them, or insensibly colored by the prejudices of those through whom the narration came. One visitor, who doubtless met with a hospitality not altogether requited in his free expressions of opinion after his departure, has left in the Ohio Atlas (March 16, 1836) a letter which may be profitably quoted in this connection:
"I have been to Kirtland, and witnessed the operations of that most deluded set of visionaries that our land, or any other enlightened, has ever witnessed. You would naturally suppose that the Mormons were the most ignorant, degraded, and stupid set of beings on the earth. This is true of some of them; but there are not wanting men of sagacity and information
and some men of strong powers of mind. From what I saw I should suppose that they were generally real believers in the doctrines of their Prophet. They are quite polite and affable to strangers…. .I was introduced to the Immortal Prophet, Joe Smith, and his renowned coadjutor, Sidney Rigdon, and a host of inferior satellites, and could scarcely suppress a laugh during the formality of making acquaintance and shaking hands with the exalted dignitaries, high-priests, etc., of Mormonism. I have no doubt that Joe Smith's character is an equal compound of the impostor and fanatic, and that Rigdon has but a small spice of the latter, with an extraordinary portion of the former; while the mass of the disciples are men of perverted intellect and disordered piety, with no sound principles of religion, with minds unbalanced and unfurnished, but active and devout, inclined to the mystical and dreary, and ready to believe any extraordinary announcement as a revelation from God.
"None of them appeared to be within reach of argument on the subject of religion. They profess to have the gift of tongues; and one individual, after becoming very much excited in conversation, offered to give me a specimen; but I shuddered at the proposal to exhibit such blasphemy and mockery of a miraculous gift, and he desisted. The Mormons have increased with astonishing rapidity. They say, and they are probably not far from the truth, that their numbers in the United States amount to forty-five thousand."
Another visitor,* who made his call at about the
* Interview with Col. W. H. Leffingwell, in St. Louis Republican.
same date, paid his respects to Rigdon, whom he seems to have known, and then asked to see the Prophet, of whom he had heard so much.
Mr. Rigdon replied, "It is our dinner-time. You cannot see him now, as he is up the street, marking goods." forty wagon-loads of merchandise having been received from the East the previous day.
The caller was afterward introduced to Smith, and his narration continues: "Smith had a round face, and his hair was cut short down on his forehead. The color of his hair was between a deep brown and a dark red. He sent a young man with us into the temple, which was but newly finished, We entered the portico, when the young man, our guide, said, 'Take off your hats.' I replied, "Our hats are already off, sir. We have a long way to drive, and want you to hurry up, sir.' We were then conducted into the interior of the temple. A broad aisle ran through the middle of the temple with a cross aisle in the centre, above which a curtain hung dividing the tem- ple into two parts, Sidney Rigdon occupying, we were told, the eastern portion, and Joe Smith the western portion, which included the grand altar. The arrangements seemed to be thus made in consequence of the' still incomplete state of the temple. By mounting on one another's shoulders we were enabled to pull ourselves up through the hole into the attic, where we were shown several mummies, including that of Joseph and other patriarchs mentioned in the Bible. After visiting the temple we were invited into the tent, where we were provided with a good dinner."
Smith had his troubles to meet, and cares to carry, from within as well as from without. The fanatical
character of his followers made his burdens all the more annoying. There was a grotesque, if not a comical side, to these troubles. Elder George A. Smith, a cousin of the Prophet, delivered a now forgotten sermon at the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1855, * in which he solemnly related a few of the annoyances Joseph was compelled to meet. Speaking of a certain class of converts, he said: "In a few weeks some of them apostatized; the trials were too great, the troubles too severe. I know persons who apostatized because they supposed they had reasons; for instance, a certain family, after having travelled a long journey, arrived at Kirtland, and the Prophet asked them to stop with him until they could find a place. Sister Emma (Joseph's wife), in the meantime, asked the old lady if she would have a cup of tea to refresh her after the fatigue of the journey, or a cup of coffee. The whole family apostatized because they were invited to take a cup of tea or coffee after the word of wisdom was given. Another family, about the same time, apostatized because Joseph Smith came down out of the translating-room, where he had been translating by the gift of the power of God, and commenced playing with his little children. Some such trials as these, you know, had to be encountered. I recollect a gentleman that came from Canada, and who had been a Methodist, and had always been in the habit of praying to a god who had no ears, and as a matter of course had to shout and halloo pretty loud to make him hear.
Father Johnson asked him to pray in their family
* Cleveland Herald of July 15, 1888, copied from the Deseret News
worship in the evening, and he got on such a high. key, and hallooed so loud, that he alarmed the whole village. Among others Joseph came running out, saying, 'What is the matter? I thought by the noise that the heavens and the earth were coming together'; and to the man, that I he ought, not to give way to such an enthusiastic spirit, and' bray so much like a jackass.' Because Joseph said that, the poor man put back to Canada, and apostatized; he. thought he would not pray to a god who did not want to be screamed at with all one's might. Four hundred and sixteen elders, priests, teachers, and deacons met in Kirtland temple on the evening of its dedication. I can see faces here that were in that assembly. The Lord poured His Spirit upon us, and give, us some little idea of the law of anointing, and conferred upon us some blessings. He taught us how to shout hosanna; gave Joseph the keys of the gathering together of Israel, and revealed to us -- what ? Why, the fact of it was, he dare not yet trust us with the first keys of the priesthood. He told us to wash ourselves, and that almost made the women mad, and they said, as they were not admitted into the temple while this washing was being performed, that some mischief was going on, and some of them were right huffy about it."
An accession to the little colony that meant far more to Mormonism than any for a moment dreamed, came in November of this year, when Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were for the first time brought face to face. The newcomer was one who by no means gave promise of the personal strength and leadership he developed in later days. He came of
a family of average character and ability. His grand-father was in belief a New England Methodist, and his father performed patriotic service in the Revolutionary war, removing in 1804 from Vermont to Sherburne, Chenango County, New York. Brigham was the ninth of a family of eleven children, and was born at Whitingham, Windham County, Vermont, on June 1, 1801. No detailed account has been left by himself or his family of his early days, which were 'spent upon a farm until he was old enough to care for himself, when he learned the painting and glazing trade. In 1832, in his thirty-first year, he was brought under the influence of Mormonism, and was either converted thereto, or was moved to announce a conversion. He gave his allegiance to the church under the ministration of Samuel H. Smith, the Prophet's brother, and was baptized by Eleazer Miller. It may be remarked in passing that all of his father's family became Mormons eventually, following Brigham to Nauvoo, and onward to Salt Lake.
Young proceeded directly to Kirtland upon his admission to the church, and almost immediately be. came the close friend and companion of Smith. He was the counsellor needed by the latter, and no doubt his influence was often exerted for the prevention of mistakes which the erratic Rigdon would have led Joseph to commit. Young was ordained an elder, and commenced preaching. His native ability and deep knowledge of character, added to an intense earnestness, and a zeal that did not lead him to overlook the practical side of things, gave him a leadership almost from the first. His advancement was rapid and certain. On February 14, 1835, he was
ordained one of the newly-organized quorum of the twelve apostles. When Thomas P. Marsh apostatized in 1836, Young was chosen to succeed him as president of the twelve.
It has been. claimed by some that when Joseph first beheld Young, he prophesied the time would come when Brigham should preside over the church; while others have been heard to relate that some time before his death Smith made the remark: "If Brigham Young ever becomes president of the church, he will lead it to hell." It certainly cannot be shown that Young ever made an attempt to supplant Smith in any respect, but stood firmly by him, upholding his authority, and never challenging his right to do as he pleased -- possessed, possibly, by the very legitimate ambition of gaining the succession if Joseph should fall by the way. He supplied many points of strength where Smith was lacking, aiding in the executive department even as Rigdon performed the brilliant work of the pulpit. As an official or political leader," it has been said he was far superior, to Smith, while as a religious leader he was much his inferior. He was a good speaker, -- using oratory, however, as a means to accomplish certain ends. His manner in the pulpit was impressive and authoritative, his illustrations apt, his sentences to the point, and often sarcastic. His lack of education passed unnoticed in the ignorance which surrounded him." Of his personal appearance in mature years, a keen observer (Hepworth Dixon, in "New America,") has said: "A large head, broad, fair face, with blue eyes, light brown hair, good nose, and merry mouth."
Young's first wife was Marion Works, to whom he
was married in 1824. She died eight years later, leaving two children. His second wife was found in Kirtland. He was married on March 31, 1834, to Mary Ann Angel, whose parents lived a mile and a half from the Mormon village. Kirtland was at that time a part of Geauga County, and in the old and time-worn records of the Probate Court at Chardon, may still be seen his application for a marriage license, as well as the license itself, as follows:
"THE STATE OF OHIO, Geauga County, ss. Personally appeared Brigham Young and made application for a marriage license for himself and Mary Ann Angel, of the township of Kirtland, in said County, and made solemn oath that he, the said Brigham Young, is of the age of twenty-one years, and the said Mary Ann Angel * is of the age of eighteen years. That they are both single, and no nearer of kin than first cousins. That he knows of no legal impediment against their being joined in marriage.
"Sworn and subscribed this tenth day of February, 1834, before me, Ralph Cowles, Deputy Clerk."
Following the above is this:
"Be it remembered that on the thirty-first day of
* Hepworth Dixon, in speaking in after years of his visit to Salt Lake City, says of this wife: "The queen of all is the first wife, Mary Ann Angel, an aged lady, whose five children, three sons and two daughters, are now grown up. She lives in a white cottage, the first house ever built in Salt Lake Valley." When Young was sued for divorce and alimony by Ann Eliza, the nineteenth, he paid a Geauga County attorney fifty dollars for furnishing him with an official copy of the above certificate, and with it coolly proceeded to show that, as he was already married to Mary Ann, he could not legally be the husband of Ann Eliza.
March, in the year of our Lord, 1834, Brigham Young and Mary Ann Angel, of the County of Geauga, were legally joined in marriage by competent authority, in conformity with the provisions of the statute of the State of Ohio, in such cases made and provided, and a certificate of the said marriage signed by Sidney Rigdon, the minister who solemnized same, has been filed in the office of the Clerk of Common Pleas of the said County of Geauga, this third day of April, A.D. 1834. A. D. AIKEN, Clerk."
The signature of Young appears to the above application, and, according to his own spelling, stands "Brickham," and the "Young" commences with a small y.
No very definite or fixed form of government for the Mormon Church had as yet been adopted, affairs, spiritual and ecclesiastical, being largely left to the Prophet and his immediate advisers. The time had now arrived when even Smith could see that something more adhesive and restrictive than his personal authority was needed, to control and hold in check the many and diverse elements now composing the Mormon Church. In accordance with that conclusion the leading men of the church were commanded to assemble at Kirtland, on February I7, 1834. The meeting was held in the house of the Prophet, and its result was the organization of "The High Council of the Church of Christ." This body was to consist of twelve high-priests, and one or three presidents, as the case might require. As we are told by the Mormon record, "the High Council was appointed by revelation, for the purpose of settling
important difficulties which might arise in the church, which could not be settled by the church or the Bishops' Council to the satisfaction of the parties."
As early as March of 1832, Smith had been acknowledged President of the High-Priests, while one year later the Quorum of three High-Priests, consisting of Jose' h Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, was organized as a presidency of the church. These three were chosen also to be presidents of the new High Council, while the Council itself consisted of Joseph Smith, Sr., John Smith, Joseph Coe, John Johnson, Martin Harris, John S. Carter, Jared Carter, Oliver Cowdery, Samuel H. Smith, Orson Hyde, Sylvester Smith, and Luke Johnson, all High-Priests. As the first President of the Council and also of the church, Smith saw no abridgment of his, power, nor any portion of it delegated to other hands. He had simply added the force of organization to the authority already held by a supposed commission from on high.
On May 3d, at a conference of the elders, the name of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" was formally chosen. The remaining important ecclesiastical measures adopted at Kirtland may be summarized in a few words. On February I4, 1835, a quorum of twelve Apostles * was organized,
* The first twelve Apostles were as follows, selected in the order named: Lyman E. Johnson, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, David W. Patten, Luke Johnson, William E. McLellin, John F. Boynton, Orson Pratt, William Smith, Thomas B. Marsh, and Parley P. Pratt. As constituted at Nauvoo, at a later date, when changes were made by death or defection. the twelve were named as follows. the added designation of each being bestowed
among whom were Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, then two of the coming men of the church. Seven days later the first meeting of the twelve apostles was held; and on February 28th, the organization of the Quorum of Seventies began. At a general assembly of the church, on August 17th, the "Book of Doctrines and Covenants" was accepted as a rule of faith and practice, including Rigdon's "Lectures on Faith." On January 4, 1836, a Hebrew professorship was established; and on June 12, 1837, the first foreign mission was established, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and four others being sent to convert England,
That dissensions and backslidings should occur in a community or congregation drawn together as had been the Kirtland "Stake of Zion," and bound by the ties in which its members were held, follows almost as a matter of natural law. The attacks from without had become more frequent and determined, and any discontented or aggrieved Mormon found no lack of sympathizers and advisers in the communities surrounding the little village. Among those who had given their adhesion to Mormonism when it was first preached in Ohio, was "Doctor" D. P. Hurlburt, a man of fine address and excellent personal appearance. Many believed that he had become a Mormon simply
upon them by the poetic W. W. Phelps: Brigham Young, the Lion of the Lord; Parley P. Pratt, the Archer of Paradise; Orson Hyde, the Olive Branch of Israel; Willard Richards, the Keeper of the Rolls; John Taylor, the Champion of Right; William Smith, the Patriarchal Jacob's Staff; Wilford Woodruff, the Banner of the Gospel, George A. Smith, the Entablature of Truth; Orson Pratt, the Gauge of Philosophy; John E. Page, the Sun Dial; and Lyman Wight, the Wild Ram of the Mountain.
in the hope of pecuniary gain through some channel that might be opened by opportunity, or that his undoubted natural shrewdness should open.
Be that as it may, he soon forsook the doctrines and church he had so readily espoused, and became one of the most active enemies of Smith and the Mormon cause. joining hands with Eber D. Howe and others who were engaged in an exposure of the Mormon scheme, he became a thorn in the side of his old enemies, and hurt them whenever and wherever he could. He was among the first, if not the first, to couple the Book of Mormon with the unpublished romance of Solomon Spaulding, and made a strong effort to establish a logical connection between the two.
Naturally, a personal enmity arose between the Prophet and himself. Charges and counter-charges soon ran into threats of personal violence, and a point was finally reached when Smith found it necessary, or at least expedient, to seek the aid of the Gentile courts. Going before a justice of the Peace, in April, 1834, he made complaint that Hurlburt had made such threats that he was in fear of his life. The defendant was arrested, ordered to give bonds to keep the peace, and cited to appear before the Court of Common Pleas. The case was heard in Chardon * a few days later. The fact that Hurlburt had him. self been a Mormon elder, and had been baptized by Smith, made the occasion one of rare interest to the surrounding country.
The house was filled with spectators, among them
* Kirtland was then in Geauga County, the County of Lake being created on March 6, 1840, out of portions of Geauga and Cuyahoga.
many Mormons who were outspoken in their championship of their leader. It was shown in the trial that Hurlburt had been excommunicated from the church for alleged misconduct, and in revenge had denounced Smith as a false prophet, and made threats against him. Many witnesses made oath to the latter charge; and when Hurlburt's lawyer asked one of them why he did not tell Smith of his danger, the response was that he did not think it necessary, as he could no t believe the man lived who could do physical harm to the person of Joseph Smith. This abundant faith did not seem to possess the one most concerned, as Smith went upon the witness-stand and swore. that he was in daily bodily fear of an attack from his late convert. The court was possessed of no special love for Smith and his friends, but as a matter of public justice and peace, ordered Hurlburt to find security in the sum of two hundred dollars to keep the peace for six months. *
During the remainder of his life in Kirtland, Smith had occasion to make many weary and vexatious journeys to Chardon, and hardly a term of court was held that did not see him or some of his followers moving down over the hills of Geauga to make answer to some charge evolved from the ingenuity, or through the unrequited wrongs, of some individual who held no love for the Mormons or their creed.
These journeyings to and fro were not all because of troubles from without. The natural heart of man was also present in Kirtland, and its promptings were
* Hurlburt never returned to the Mormon fold. He spent the closing years of his life in Gibsonburgh, Ohio, where he died in 1882.
not always those of peace. In June, 1835, we find an indictment pending against Smith himself, on complaint of a brother Mormon, who occupied, in addition, the close relation of brother-in-law. The charge was that of assault and battery upon the person of Calvin W. Stoddard. The case was set for hearing on the twenty-fourth of the month above named, and Smith was bound over to the Court of Common Pleas, and upon the final hearing, the Prophet, his mother, and other members of the family appeared in force. The assault was not denied, but the plea of self-defense advanced in justification..
it was developed by the testimony that the two had fallen into dispute concerning the water in a certain lot. As the contention waxed warmer and still more warm, the wrath of Stoddard gained the better of his loyalty and discretion, and he shouted out so that the curious and waiting neighborhood could hear: "I'don't fear you, nor no other man!"
As Smith made no pretension to physical prowess, he received this challenge in silence, but as Stoddard added the declaration that he was but a false prophet at best, and emphasized it with an oath, patience gave way, and he felled his defamer to the earth, and while he was down gave him a lesson not soon forgotten. When questioned in court, Smith stated that Stoddard had asked his pardon, which had been freely granted. A case of self-defense was made out and Smith acquitted; although it was noticed that Stoddard's allegations upon the first hearing were far more vehement and pointed than upon the last. Family
and church influence had no doubt been brought to bear for the healing of the feud. * The first formal attempt on the part of the opponents of Mormonism to bring the machinery of the law to bear upon any of its leaders, occurred in June of the same year, when such statements were made before the grand jury of Geauga County, as led it to return a bill of indictment on the sixteenth against Sidney Rigdon. Quoting the language of that ancient document direct from the record, we are told that "Sidney Rigdon, of Kirtland, on the fourth of September, 1834, attempted to solemnize the marriage contract between Orson Hyde and Miranda N. Johnson," when not legally authorized to perform such service. Reuben Hitchcock, afterward one of Ohio's most eminent jurists, was prosecuting attorney, and after the jury had been sworn, in the October term of the court, decided to none the case; doubtless concluding that as Rigdon had for years been a regular minister in the Baptist and Disciple churches, his right in the premises was hardly to be questioned.
A brief season of renewed comfort and hope was
* Upon the conclusion of the suit, Smith made his way into print through the following card:
KIRTLAND, June, 1835.
EDITOR "PAINESVILLE TELEGRAPH":
In a late number of your paper the fact was noticed of my being bound over to Common Pleas Court to keep the peace, for an assault upon the person of my brother-in-law. Since my honorable acquittal before said court last week, there being no evidence to prove the same, I believe you will do me the justice to make the last as public as the former, and oblige,
Your obedient servant,
JOSEPH SMITH, Jr.
granted the Saints in the early days of 1836, when their first temple was completed and ready for dedication. The work had been prosecuted in the face of many difficulties and discouragements, and when the last stone was laid and the last curtain hung, the burden upon the souls of the devout was lifted, as they hoped that their willing obedience and severe toil in the completion of this house of worship would bring a season of fruitful revival, and place upon them and theirs the blessings so long promised and so long deferred.
The structure had cost them nearly forty thousand dollars -- a sum of no small magnitude considering their resources and the scale of prices of those days. Devoid of architectural beauty, it was still imposing, and not without a dignity of the rigid and angular sort. Making use of a description of the temple penned a short time after its erection, * we obtain the following:
"In front, over the large window, is a tablet, bearing the inscription:
Built by the Church
of the Latter-Day Saints.
The first and second stories are divided into two grand rooms for public worship. The attic is partitioned off into about a dozen small apartments. The lower grand room is fitted up with seats as an ordinary church, with canvas curtains hanging from the ceiling, which, on the occasion of prayer-meetings,
* "Ohio Historical Collections," p. 282.
are let down to the top of the slips, dividing the room into several different apartments, for the use of the separate collections of worshippers. At each end of the room is a set of pulpits, four in number, rising behind each other. Each pulpit is calculated for three persons, so that when they are full, twelve persons occupy each set, or twenty-four persons the two sets. These pulpits were for the officers of the priesthood. The set at the farther end of the room are for the Melchisedek priesthood, or those who minister in spiritual concerns. The set opposite, near. the entrance of the room, are for the Aaronic priest. hood, whose duty it is to simply attend to temporal affairs of the society. These pulpits all bear initials, signifying the rank of the occupants."
The temple was dedicated on March 27th. That occasion may be regarded as the culminating point of Mormon success and influence in Ohio. The leaders used every means within their power to raise it above the level of temporal things, and to impress upon it an apparent stamp of special divine acceptance and favor. The ceremonies of dedication and consecration were conducted with a mysterious solemnity intended to impress believers and mark itself with effect upon spectators from the outer world. The various quorums of the church officially recognized Smith as their Prophet and Seer; and if Joseph's word is to be taken as conclusive, there were august visitors in attendance -- Moses, Elias, and Elisha appearing unto him, and surrendering into his possession the Keys of the Priesthood, which conferred upon him great power in spiritual and material things. He also saw angels, which came down and
held converse with him, but were seen not by the dull eyes of those about him.
Brigham Young, not to be too far behind Joseph in the manifestations of spiritual power, was favored with an eloquent outburst of tongues, and made an address which neither he nor any one else could understand, but which some brother made an effort to translate. A pillar of fire was seen above the temple, and supernatural sounds heard in the air. Many who had heretofore been content to remain in the background, arose and gave utterance to prophecy. The brethren shut themselves in the temple, and washed and anointed themselves. This exaltation of spirit, and the excitement of which it was a part, continued several days. On the evening of March 29th the ceremony of washing feet was performed, each Saint humbling himself in the service of another. Hundreds, we are told in the Mormon records, remained in the building all night, "glorifying God and prophesying." At daybreak they partook of the sacramental bread and wine.
The excitement continued until March 31st. During this time all business of a secular character was suspended. Many spectators were drawn from the neighboring towns and farms. No such season had been witnessed at Kirtland even in the early days of spiritual riot, and none was possible in the times of gloom and trouble that were even now closing in from every side.
ENEMIES WITHOUT AND WITHIN.
THE problems that Mormonism was now set to solve were nolonger confined to the polemic challenges of Thomas Campbell and an allied orthodoxy, nor to the newspaper attacks of Hurlburt and Howe. Nor were they all resultant from envyings and dislikes among the Saints themselves, -- of which there never was a lack, and which increased in noise and turmoil as the storm of financial difficulty gathered about the head of Smith and his immediate associates in the government of the church. It was from this last-named source that the overthrow finally came, Bad management; a haste for riches that outran the resources of capital at command; a bank that, in defiance of law, issued a worthless scrip that was hardly meant to be redeemed; over-confidence that was the natural result of placing an almost autocratic power in untrained hands, and numerous speculations based upon an optimistic view of the future, combined to a ruinous conclusion, which the financial panic of 1837 precipitated.
Looked at from the dispassionate ground of a business view alone, one can hardly criticise the Mormon leaders for many of the ventures into which they were led. It was a time when the canals of New York and Ohio, the waters of Lake Erie and the Ohio River, and the highways between the East and the great unsettled West, were filled with people bent upon the founding of new homes in the new lands,
and lured by a future that, however bright it might have seemed, has been far outrun by the magnificent developments of the half-century past. Cities were springing up as if by magic. Settlements were made to-day where the forest had stood untenanted and unbroken but yesterday. Farms were marked out in lands that were on the far frontier a year before. With any advantage in natural gift or commercial creation, one spot seemed equal to the rest in a hope for the future, and those whose interests were staked upon it felt justified in calling the attention of the world to their possessions, and in offering to others a part of the harvest they hoped to reap.
Kirtland lay upon one of the roadways the hand of the pioneer had cut through the forests of Northern Ohio, while the waters of Lake Erie could be seen from her temple roof. The nucleus of a large town seemed to have been formed in the settlement of so many strangers about the temple, and the limits to which it might yet grow could only be defined by the future. Those who had seen that which had already been done, had a reason for their hope of yet greater things in times to come. As there was a material and financial side to Mormonism, -- a thing needless to note in the presence of such men as Brigham Young and Parley P. Pratt, -- it was but natural that advantage should be taken of the chances offered from day to day. Speculation in land was indulged in. All through 1836 and 1837, as shown by the books of the County Recorder at Chardon, sales in abundance were made by the Smiths and other leading Mormons. The multiplicity of these transactions in realty on the part of the two Josephs and
their kin, suggests a curious change from the money-digging and root-beer selling Palmyra days of only a half-dozen years before.
In fact, a great city was laid out, of which the temple was to be the centre, and around which the Saints were to live in happiness and content until the
[ Kitland Plat graphic not copied ]
millennium should dawn and the whole earth be delivered into their hands. All that remains of that Utopian dream to-day is a finely-executed plat upon the county books, forgotten of men and scarcely seen by the eyes of this generation. *
* The history of Kirtland City as told in the record, is brief, and of official terseness. The plat is the handiwork of Willard W
The building of Kirtland City was interrupted by the financial and personal difficulties that rapidly gathered about the Prophet and the church. In his autobiography Smith speaks of his troubles in the following words: "At this time the spirit of speculation in lands and property of all kinds, which was so prevalent throughout the whole nation, was taking deep root in the church; as the fruits of this spirit, evil surmisings, fault-finding, disunion, dissension, and apostasy followed in quick succession, and it seemed as though all the powers of earth and hell were combining their influence in an especial manner to overthrow the church at once, and make a final end.... The enemy abroad and apostates in our midst united in their schemes; flour and provisions were turned toward other markets; and many became disaffected toward me, as though I were the sole cause of those very evils I was most strenuously striving against, and which were actually brought upon us by the brethren not giving heed to my counsel.
Beals, surveyor of Geauga County. Proceedings attested by F. G. Williams, a Mormon justice of the Peace. Among those by whom the allotment was made were Emma Smith, the Prophet's wife; Eliza R. Snow, the Mormon poetess; Reynolds Cahoon, Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Heber C. Kimball, Joseph Smith, Sr., Joseph Smith, Jr., and Sidney Rigdon. The plat was made in April, 1837, and recorded May 24th. There were to be thirty-two streets, all laid at right angles, and each four rods wide. There were two hundred and twenty-five blocks, each containing twenty lots of equal size. In the naming of the streets the new dispensation, which stood sponsor, had an advantage over the old, twenty-nine being allotted to the Mormons, while the disciples of Holy Writ were forced to be content with three; or were even Peter, John, and Luke numbered among the Whitmers and others of the Mormon flock?
No quorum in the church was entirely exempt from the influence of those false spirits who were striving against me for the mastery; even some of the Twelve were so far lost to their high and responsible calling, as to begin to take sides, secretly, with the enemy."
An occurrence that had its culmination in the early days of this year, did not allay the feeling of enmity and distrust already prevalent in the outer world. Grandison Newell, a prominent farmer of Kirtland township, who lived a mile and a half from the village, had for a long time been an avowed enemy of Smith and the Mormons, and lost no chance to make his dislike apparent in his acts. A young man who had been a member of the Mormon Church, but had departed from and denounced it, gave Newell such information as led him, on April 13, 1837, to lodge a complaint before justice Flint, of Painesville, charging Smith with conspiring to take his life. Giving form. and substance to the grave rumors that had been for a long time afloat as to the dangers to be apprehended from 'the Mormon Church, this charge caused the wildest excitement. The hearing was awaited with the deepest interest. It occurred on June 3d. The young man above referred to -- whose name appears in none of the records -- made oath that Smith had directed himself and a fellow Mormon named Davis, to take Newell's life, declaring him to be an avowed enemy to the true faith, who ought to be put out of the way, and that on two occasions they had gone to the complainant's residence at night, with a purpose of carrying out their instructions, but had not found him at home.
This evidence made a sensation, and the Mormons used every means in their power to break its effect. Rigdon, Cowdery, Hyde, and other prominent members of their church were placed upon the stand, and made as good a case for Smith as the circumstances would admit. * The court appears to have believed there was some foundation for the charge, as Smith was placed under bonds of five hundred dollars to keep the peace, and appear at the next term of court. Rigdon, L. W. Denton, and Orson Hyde were accepted as bail. On the final hearing, Smith was discharged, the evidence not being considered sufficient to make good the charge,
The business troubles that accumulated with such rapidity during the year of which we write, made their influence felt with malign dexterity at almost every point. An illustrative incident can be related. One Samuel Brown, a shrewd money-lender of Kirtland, had reason to believe that a financial crash would naturally follow in the wake of wild speculation, and as he had loaned three thousand dollars to the Mormons, determined on a plan by which to make himself secure. Going to Smith, he declared that he was in sudden need of money for a short time, but would re-loan it to Smith, and with it a much larger sum. The Prophet greedily swallowed
* In this trial, Gen. J. H. Payne, of Painesville, appeared for Newell, and in a quizzical way asked each of the Mormon witnesses if he believed Joe Smith to be a true prophet. The answer upon each occasion was an emphatic "Yes." When Rigdon was reached with the same inquiry, he sat back in his chair and coolly responded: "Well, I guess he is as much of a Prophet as you are, General, or Eber D. Howe," the latter's book against Mormonism having already appeared.
the, bait, and by much effort secured the three thousand dollars, which he gave Brown. In a few weeks he again called on Brown, and suggested that he would like to borrow the promised larger sum. Brown laughed in his face, and dismissed the Prophet with the remark: "Now that I have got my money safe, do you suppose that I am so big a fool as to throw it away?"
Other creditors were possessed of a like fear, and attempt after attempt was made to force collections. As many persuasions and appeals had failed, a resort to the courts of law was the natural result. A promissory note for several thousand dollars, given on January 2d, to the Bank of Geauga, at Painesville, was the starting-point of many troubles, and the first point of attack. In default of its payment, Joseph Smith, Jr., Newell K. Whitney, and Sidney Rigdon were brought into court and compelled to give bonds for eight thousand dollars. The case never came to trial, but was settled out of court. The members of the mercantile firm of Rigdon, Smith & Cowdery, which had done a large business of late years, and purchased East and West, wherever credit could be obtained, were called to the bar of county justice at about the same time, to answer to one Hezekiah Kelley, as endorsers of paper issued by the firm of R. Cahoon, J. Carter & Co. -- Hyrum Smith being the company. judgment to the full extent of the claim was allowed.
Other suits of a like character were heard at the same term of court, and in each the award was to the plaintiff. Such indeed became their need of money in a time of financial stringency, that in
July we find Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Oliver 'Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter -- members of the two firms mentioned above joining in a promissory note of forty-five hundred dollars to Mead, Stafford & Co., wholesale merchants of New York, for which they gave as security nothing less than a mortgage upon the interest they severally and jointly held in the temple -- described in the instrument as "The Stone Temple, called also the Chapel House." The conveyance covered the land upon which the building stood, all furniture used in or about said house," and "all ancient curiosities, writings, paintings, and sculpture therein," * all claims held by them against the temple, and in particular one of sixteen thousand dollars due for advances at the time of its erection.
Even this assignment did not prevent the stream of claims from pouring steadily in. Some were settled out of court, while others went to trial. Nor did their troubles end here. A proceeding which must have caused both Smith and Rigdon great uneasiness, and promised worse disaster than all the suits for debt yet entered, was commenced against them during this year of culminating ruin. It was an action for the unlawful assumption of banking powers, without the charter rights the law required.
As has been already related, the so-called bank that was established, in the face of a refusal of the Ohio Legislature to grant a charter for the same, had issued an unlimited number of bills, and performed all the
* With an unwillingness, perhaps, to make merchandise of the bearers of the rolls of Abraham, the mummies in the temple were named as exempt from the provisions of this deed,
functions incident to a bank. As the law then stood in Ohio, informers in certain cases were granted a portion of the fines imposed. The penalty incurred in unlawful banking was of this character, and accordingly, one Samuel D. Rounds decided to enrich himself, harass the Mormons, and vindicate the law by one bold stroke. In the March term of court, he caused the arrest of Rigdon and Smith, and demanded from each, in the name of himself and the State, "a penalty of one thousand dollars, incurred by awaiting on the fourth day of January, 1837, as an officer of a bank not incorporated by the law of this State, denominated 'The Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company,' contrary to the statute in such case made and provided." The offenders were brought into court, and once more compelled to call upon their friends and partners for bail, which was furnished.
The case was called in the June term of court, when a desperate effort was made to clear them by a demurrer, which was overruled, and a continuance granted. In October they were tried by a jury, ad. judged guilty as charged, and ordered to pay the fine. Their defense was based. upon the claim that they had acted for an association instead of a bank, and that the bills they had issued were individual notes in effect and not money. Upon that ground an appeal was taken, and measures set on foot to carry the matter to a higher court; but before a decision could be reached, the bank was a thing of the past, its notes no longer money in law or in fact, and its president and cashier safe in the Mormon fold of the far West.
Specimens of these bills were introduced in evidence
in the above cases, and becoming a part of the record can be found neatly wafered in an ancient volume of the Geauga Criminal Records. They are al. most as fresh and crisp as when first issued. Even a casual examination will show upon their face an attempt at evasion. The bill as originally issued bore, in large, bold letters, the inscription: "The Kirtland Safety Society Bank will pay on demand to W. Parrish or bearer, three dollars." As danger under the law began to threaten, an addition was stamped upon the engraved bill, in very small letters, so that the anti-banking clause would be inserted, in this form: Anti-BANK-ing Co.
At first glance one would not see the added words because of their diminutive size. The evasion was of no use, however, when placed to the crucial test of the law. The personal signatures of Smith and Rigdon appeared upon each bill.
While the bank was one of the main avenues through which these tribulations came, it was by no means without its uses in the days when doubt and suspicion had not filtered into the public mind. Its notes were taken by every one, and by many were regarded as preferable to the "wildcat" currency with which the West was flooded. Free use of this confidence was made in the fitting out of emigrant trains to the West, in the purchase of horses, wagons, farming and mechanical tools, and other needed supplies. More than one keen Yankee farmer and trader, who had sold his wares at the full market price, had occasion ere long to regret that the suspicion he had attached
to the Mormon's religion and patriotism, had not been extended to his printed notes as well. The printing-press was, indeed, kept so busy, that the genuine banks of neighboring cities became suspicious, and began to investigate the solidity of the foundation upon which so great a business was done. A practical test was decided upon by the Pittsburgh bankers, who sent one of their number, Mr. Jones, to Kirtland upon a tour of investigation. Loading a hand-satchel with the Safety Society notes, he took the stage to Ohio, and made an early morning call upon Rigdon and Smith.
He questioned them in a general way as to the prosperity of Mormonism spiritually and materially, and received such glowing responses as only these two adepts in the art of impressing men, could give. The conversation was then adroitly turned by the visitor to the bank, and its solidity and usefulness extolled by its president and cashier. Mr. Jones expressed his pleasure thereat, and confessed to a personal interest of no small extent. Producing his bundle of notes, he asked for their immediate redemption in coin.
The response of president Rigdon was prompt and to the point. He declined to exchange, politely suggesting that the paper had been put forth as a circulating medium for the accommodation of the people," and that he would be thwarting that purpose to call any of it in. In short, he dishonored the express promise of the note, and Mr. Jones carried home a bundle of bills that had no value beyond that of the paper of which they were composed.
The long-foreshadowed end could not be long delayed.
Early in November, 1837, the bank formally suspended payment, and its doors were closed. The knell of Mormonism in Ohio was sounded; and even had peace and harmony reigned inside the church, the feeling of the outer world was such that continuance in Kirtland would have been impossible. Thou. sands held the worthless promises to pay, and the feeling everywhere was that of anger, distrust, and hatred. It was, indeed, time that the Prophet was going, since prestige, business success, and the last remnant of public confidence had already gone.
Smith made such defense of his course as the circumstances would admit. He declared that the bank itself was victim rather than offender, and charged a defalcation of twenty-five thousand dollars upon Warren Parrish, a clerk of the institution, who had left Kirtland some time before. Be this as it may, the defense was not accepted by the world, and the blame was laid upon those to whom, beyond all question, it belonged. The failure was denounced by many of the Mormons themselves, and served to open still wider the breach already existing in the church. One Boynton, an elder, met Smith, and publicly upbraided him for his course, telling him that, as the bank had been established "by the will of God," he did not see how it could fail, no matter what men might do against it.
Smith's response was characteristic. He threw all the blame upon those who had been associated with him in its management, and declared that the blessings had been promised only on the condition that the bank should be conducted on business principles,
The majority of those who held an unshaken and
devout belief in the divine commission of Smith, had already departed to the new field of labor in the West, while among those who remained, were many who were his enemies, secretly or openly, as their fear or policy might suggest. Although the acknowledged prophet, seer, and revelator of the church, and chosen its president by a unanimous vote, his authority was often questioned by. rebellious acts, while opposing claims were even set up against it. Almost daily renunciations of the church on the part of the disgusted or dissatisfied, were occurring, while excommunications followed as a matter of course. Men high in the councils of the church to-day, might find them. selves outcast and given over to the buffetings of Satan on the morrow, a girl, almost a mere child, began suddenly to utter prophecies, and deliver herself of spiritual revelations in opposition to the commands of Smith, and even his prompt and emphatic denunciation of her works as those of the devil, hardly saved her from a following that would have caused division and contentions in the church.
The final blow at the authority of the Prophet came when a faction calling themselves "Reformers," sought to take control into their own hands, and opposed him and his in every quarter and at every point. The closing months of 1837 were filled with contentions, and as Saint warred against Saint, and prophecy was uttered in refutation of other prophecy, the Gentile world stood not aloof, but used all means within command to fan the enmity into still more open war, and cause the breach to widen so that it. might be put forever beyond repair.
Smith, Rigdon, and Young. stood, side by side in
these tempestuous times, and gave blow for blow, and shot their shafts into the opposing ranks with such power and to such effect as still lay within their command. The magic of such belief as was still held in Smith's prophetic mission, was used to frighten and dismay the opposition. Thunderbolts of anathema were hurled at the rebellious, and many were no doubt held to the church by no loftier emotion than a servile and superstitious fear.
I have received from the mouth of a witness yet living * an account of the final public appearance of Smith and Rigdon in the temple which their influence and energy had done so much to create. It was in December, on a Sabbath directly preceding their wild flight by night. Schism, apostasy, secret enmity, malice, and even outspoken opposition confronted them in the church, while debt, revenge, arrest, prosecution, and punishment threatened from the world without. The faithful, many upon whom dependence could be placed at all times, were already far away in the West, while here were left the hostile few. A demand had been made by the Prophet that condemnation and excommunication should be pronounced upon several in revolt, and it became apparent ere long that the votes by which the behest was to be obeyed, were not forthcoming.
Such natural power as Smith held for the control of men, answered to the demand now made upon it. He came into the gathering with a resolution and courage that the situation seemed to demand, and carried himself as one who felt that his soul and being
* L. E. Miller, an aged resident of Painesville, O.
had found themselves set firmly on the rock, while all else was but the shifting of sand or the swaying of reeds in the summer wind. Them deep experiences of nearly a decade of spiritual and material command, had given power and play to every faculty, and carried him far outward from the uncouth and flimsy experiences and assertions of the early days. The natural grain of greatness, which no honest and watchful man could deny as a part of his endowment, had seen much smoothing and polishing in his constant contact with the world; and he was no longer the ungainly boy who looked into the white stone for lost money or straying flocks, but the clear-sighted and ambitious man, who aspired to a place with Mohammed as the founder of a vast religious empire. There could be no show of weakness on his part now that was not fraught with danger, and he played his game with boldness and courage clear on to its tragic end.
Rigdon had been sick, and was aided to his seat by the steadying arms of friends. The debate was long and stormy. Three hours of the Sabbath passed away, and no decision had been reached. Rigdon's address was not soon forgotten by those who heard it. Physical weakness was upon him, but the pathos of his plea and the power of his denunciation swayed the feelings and shook the judgment of his hearers as never in the old days of peace, and when he had finished and was led out, a perfect silence reigned in the temple until its door had closed upon him forever.
Smith made a resolute and determined battle; false reports had been circulated, he declared, and those by whom the offense had come must repent
and acknowledge their sin, or be cut off from fellow. ship in this world, and from honor and power in that to come. He made his demand as head of the church, for the sake of the church, and he would abate not one jot therefrom.
The accused plead their case, and many who had done faithful and obedient service for Joseph in the past, spoke boldly in opposition to the Prophet's will. As the contest grew to a white heat, one of those who bad fallen under the Prophet's displeasure gave him the lie to his face, and fire from heaven did not consume him, nor the earth open to receive him.
At last Joseph, impatient with opposition, and tired with the long turmoil of argument, suggested that a vote upon excommunication should be taken, and further pleas for the victims heard at a later date. "Yes," shouted one of the latter, who was immediately upon his feet, it you would cut a man's head off and hear him afterward! "
Lyman Cowdery, a Mormon lawyer, suggested a postponement of the whole matter for a few days and was sustained by vote.
Further proceedings had little interest for Smith. There came to his ears one day a rumor that Grandison Newell, his old enemy, was on his way to Chardon for a warrant for Rigdon and himself on a charge of fraud in connection with the late bank. * With no heart for further contests in the arena of public justice, he made hurried and secret arrangements for
* The rumor had no foundation in fact, although there were many who desired such arrests made. Newell used to relate the story with great gusto, and tell at length how he "run the Mormons out of the country."
flight. Young had gone some weeks before. Fleet and stout horses were secured, and late in the evening of the 12th of January, 1838, Smith and Rigdon bade their few devoted friends farewell, and galloped over the frozen roads and through the snow toward the West. There was much outcry, but no legal action when they were gone, and in due season they were welcomed as heroes and hailed as martyrs by that portion of the Mormon world to which their coming was a blessing and surprise.
As one may suppose, Smith's version of this unfortunate episode in his life and of misfortune to the church, varied from that furnished by his opponents, the more especially as he was compelled to justify himself and companion before the main body of the church. "A new year," he writes, * "dawned upon the church at Kirtland in all the bitterness of the spirit of apostate mobocracy, which continued to rage and grow hotter and hotter, until Elder Rigdon and myself were obliged to flee from its deadly influence, as did the apostles and prophets of old, and as Jesus said 'When they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another.' And on the evening of the 12th of January, about ten o'clock, we left Kirtland on horseback, to escape mob violence, which was about to burst upon us under the color of legal process, to cover their hellish designs and save themselves from the just judgment of' the law. The weather was extremely cold, and we were obliged to secrete ourselves sometimes to elude the grasp of our pursuers, who continued their
* From The Evening and Morning Star, the organ of the Mormon Church.
race more than two hundred miles from Kirtland, armed with pistols, etc., seeking our lives."
It is perhaps needless to say that the conclusion of the above quotation must be charged to Smith's imagination, which was compelled to aid him out of the dilemma in which he had been placed. Before leaving Kirtland, Smith had said to his enemies, "You will see me again, whatever happens. God has promised me that nothing shall prevail against me, and that my life is safe for five ears to come.
The sheriff was now an almost daily visitor at Kirtland. The dream of a great city was gone, and those who had the most at stake thought only of how they might save something from the wreck. The foreclosure of mortgages followed each other in quick succession. On January 14th the printing. office of the church, containing many books and a large amount of paper, was disposed of at sheriff's sale, the purchaser being one of the Reformers or seceders from Smith. During the night the building and contents, and a small Methodist chapel standing near, were burned to the ground, and stories were put afloat that Mormons of the old school had be. come incendiaries, in the hope that the blaze would extend to the temple, which they did not wish to see left in the hands of their enemies. *
Referring once more to the records of Geauga County, we find the last transfer of property by
* Extract from the Cleveland Herald and Gazette of January 25, 1838: "The Mormon Society of Kirtland is breaking up. Smith and Rigdon, after prophesying the destruction of the town. left in the night. The Reformers are in possession of the temple, and have excluded the Smith and Rigdon party."
Smith occurring in July, 1838, after he had been in the West some months. The deed was made in Caldwell County, Mo. Rigdon had not hesitated to secure safety from creditors by placing his property out of his hands before the final crash, and in April, 1837, had joined with his wife in deeding an acre of land in Kirtland to their daughter Nancy. Only one sale on the part of Brigham Young can be found on the books of the county -- that of a plat valued at six hundred dollars, disposed of in July, 1837, to Solomon Angel, no doubt the father-in-law of the grantor. Before closing the Kirtland chapter of Mormonism, the testimony of Dr. Storm Rosa, one of the then leading physicians of Ohio, upon a number of points touching which he had personal knowledge, can be profitably introduced. It appears in the form of a letter to the Rev. John Hall, rector of St. Peter's church, of Ashtabula, Ohio, under date of Painesville, Ohio, June 3, 1841, * from which the following is extracted:
"I think the history of Mormonism as published by E. D. Howe, a copy of which can be obtained in our place, contains all the material truths connected with the rise and progress of that miser. able deception. There are occasionally new doctrines introduced and incorporated with their faith, such as being baptized for the dead. This is a' common custom here. When a member is satisfied that his father, mother, or brother, or any other friend is in bell, he steps forward and offers himself to the church in baptism for that individual, and when properly baptized, the tormented individual will instantaneously
* "Gleanings by the Way," p. 315.
emerge from his misery into perfect happiness. There are many such follies which the simple-hearted are ready and willing to believe. There is no permanent separation in the society. There were a few seceders a few years since, some of whom left them entirely, ard became infidels, and others held to the original purity of the doctrines, as they termed it. As to Martin Harris, of late I have heard but little of him. My acquaintance with him induces me to believe him a monomaniac; he is a man of great loquacity and very unmeaning, ready at all times to dispute the ground of his doctrines with any one. He was one of the seceders, and for a time threatened the Mormons with exposure, as I have been informed, [It will be remembered that Dr. Rosa penned this letter some time after Smith had commenced his operations in the West.] But where he is now I cannot say,
"Joe Smith is regarded as an inspired man by all the Mormons. Sidney Rigdon is at the western settlement. He embraced the Mormon religion in the latter part of October, 1830 (see page 102 of the book as published by E. D. Howe, above referred to). In the early part of the year, either in May or June, I was in company with Sidney Rigdon, and rode with him on horseback a few miles. Our conversation was principally upon the subject of religion, as he was at that time a very popular preacher of the denomination calling themselves Disciples, or Campbellites. He remarked to me that it was time for a new religion to spring up; that mankind were all rife and ready for it. I thought he alluded to the Campbellite doctrine; he said it would not be long before something would
make its appearance; he also said that he thought of leaving for Pennsylvania, and should be absent for some months. I asked him, how long? -- he said it would depend upon circumstances. I began to think a little strange of his remarks, as he was a minister of the gospel. I left Ohio that fall, and went to the State of New York, to visit my friends, who lived in Waterloo, not far from the mine of Golden Bibles.
"In November I was informed that my old neighbor, E. Partridge, and the Rev. Sidney Rigdon were in Waterloo, and that they both had become the dupes of Joe Smith's necromancies; it then occurred to me that Rigdon's new religion had made its appearance, and when I became informed of the Spaulding manuscript I was confirmed in the opinion that Rigdon was at least accessory, if not the principal in getting up this farce. Any information that I can give shall be done cheerfully.
Respectfully, your obedient servant, S. Rosa."
This exaltation of spirit, and the excitement of which it was a part, continued several days. On the evening of March 29th the ceremony of washing feet was performed, each Saint humbling himself in the service ,of another. Hundreds, we are told in the Mormon records, remained in the building all night, "glorifying God and prophesying." At daybreak they partook of the sacramental bread and wine.
The excitement continued until March 31st. During this time all business of a secular character was suspended. Many spectators were drawn from the neighboring towns and farms. No such season had been witnessed at Kirtland even in the early days of spiritual riot, and none war possible in the times of gloom and trouble that were even now closing in from every side,
THE ARMY OF ZION.
The story of Joseph Smith's first visit to Missouri, and the founding of Zion, has been already told. His second trip Westward was made in April, 1832, the month following his severe personal experiences at Hiram. Between one and two thousand Mormons had by that time gathered at Zion, and forebodings of the troubles that afterward befell them, were found in the dislike and suspicion of the non-Mormon settlers about them.
The emphatic announcements made some time before by the Prophet, that his people were soon to possess all that land to the exclusion or destruction of such as did not believe, had not added to the welcome of the new community, while the continued accessions to the Mormon population by emigration from the East, had turned to fear that which in another case would have been scorn or contempt. The Mormons had pursued a policy hardly in accord with the ideal of a chosen race, but perhaps natural to an ignorant community that lived in the belief that it alone found favor in the sight of God. They assumed a superiority of manner and conduct that did not accord with their professions, and lent color to some of the grave but often groundless charges which enemies set afloat against them. There was much to confront Smith, and cause him anxiety
on this visit, not only from the Gentiles, but through the mistakes of judgment or waywardness of purpose on the part of many under his spiritual care. But he met it all with an even countenance and a dexterity of management that showed no trace of anxiety or alarm. He transacted such business as came to hand, and on May ist presided at a grand council of the church, where many matters of moment were transacted. Five days later he set out upon his journey home. In June, in pursuit of arrangements made while he was present, the publication of The Evening and Morning Star was commenced at Independence, under the direction of W. W. Phelps, formerly a printer at Canandaigua, New York, and reputed author of all Smith's political letters and speeches.
Early in 1833, the difficulties that had for a long time disturbed the relations between the Mormons and their neighbors, began to take the form of open hostilities, and muttered threats were changed to actual attacks by voice, by pen, and finally by physical force. A meeting of Missourians was held in April, which some three hundred attended, and at which an emphatic resolution was adopted ordering the Mormons to leave the country. Defiant replies to this autocratic demand were made by the Mormon press. A counter response came from the Missourians, in a series of meetings of a character similar to that described above, where a decision to exclude, by force if necessary, was on each occasion reached. * Finally,
* The publication of an article in the Mormon organ, in June, 1833, entitled "Free People of Color," probably had something to do with this sudden angel of a community in which the strongest, pro-slavery principles prevailed,
a general meeting of the citizens of Jackson County was held, on July 20th, at which between four and five hundred made their appearance. An address had been prepared, and was read and adopted unanimously. After a statement of causes leading to this conclusion, the following specific demands were made:
"That no Mormon shall, in future, move and settle in this country.
"That those now here, who shall give a definite pledge of their intention, within a reasonable time, to remove out of the country, shall be allowed to re. main unmolested until they have sufficient time to sell their property and close their business without any material sacrifice.
"That the editor of the Star be required forthwith to close his office, and discontinue the business of printing in this country; and, as to all other stores and shops belonging to the sect, their owners must, in every case, comply with the terms of the second article of this declaration, and upon failure, prompt and efficient measures will be taken to close the same.
"That the Mormon leaders here are required to use their influence in preventing any further emigration of their distant brethren to this country, and to counsel and advise their brethren here to comply with the above requisitions.
"That those who fail to comply with these requisitions, be referred to those of their brethren who have the gifts of divination and of unknown tongues, to inform them of the lot that awaits them."'
The meeting adjourned for two hours, while a committee of twelve resolute and well-armed men
presented this unwarranted and impudent demand to the Mormon leaders, among whom were Bishop Partridge, and Mr. Phelps, the editor of the Star. Naturally, they were not prepared to quietly submit, nor did they feel strong enough to answer with defiance, and threaten blow for blow. They asked for delay, which the committee promptly refused. When report was made to the meeting upon its reassembling, it was determined that active measures should be commenced at once.
The building in which the Star was punished was razed to the ground, while Bishop Partridge and a fellow-Mormon were caught, stripped of their clothing, and treated to a coat of tar and feathers. The mob then announced three days for reflection on the part of the Mormons, in which they must decide as to their future course. When the adjourned meeting was held on July 23d, and the demand repeated, the Saints had no alternative but to submit. An agreement was made and signed, that one-half the Mormons should depart by January 1, 1834, and the rest by the first of the following April. The offending newspaper was to be discontinued, and no new members should be allowed to join the society in Zion during the nine months of truce.
Advice was sought of the Prophet and rulers of the church at Kirtland, while an appeal for protection was made to the Governor of Missouri. The response of the latter was plain and direct. He declared that the attack upon them had been made without reason or justice, and advised them to remain where they were. Word to the same effect came from Kirtland. Believing that an agreement
wrung from them by physical force was not binding morally, as it certainly was not in law, the Mormons felt it no wrong to refuse to carry out its provisions, and announced their purpose to that effect.
The Missourians were as good as their word. On October 31st, an attack was made upon the Mormons by a body of armed men, several houses were destroyed, and a fight ensued in which two Missourians were killed. For the sake of appearances the authorities called out the militia, but as the troops were enemies of the Saints almost to a man, the latter saw no other alternative but to go, and made hurried preparations to leave the State. They crossed the Missouri River in November, with great loss of property and no small degree of suffering, the majority finding a temporary resting-place in Clay County, some going to Van Buren, and others to other parts of the State.
While Smith made little haste to take a personal part in these difficulties and dangers, he was by no means idle, nor forgetful to turn the troubles of his followers to such good to himself and his creed as they might be made to yield. He could write better than fight, and such consolation as he could give the persecuted Saints by revelation was forthcoming. He was first unburdened of a message that he should retain Henry Clay for the legal defense of Mormon rights, and next issued a command of a character that caused no small degree of excitement in the church, and was virtually a declaration of war against their persecutors. He promised the Saints a final and eternal possession of the Zion from which they had been expelled, and did not fail to tell them that
they had been stricken because of their sins - " Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of your inheritance -- I the Lord hath suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions; yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels."
The command to Joseph himself, in this revelation, was direct, personal, and as full of war as some of the Hebraic commands of old: "Therefore get ye straight-way unto my land; break down the walls of mine enemies; throw down their tower and scatter their watch-men; and inasmuch as they gather together against you, avenge me of mine enemies, that by and by I may come with the residue of my house and possess the land." *
* From an address delivered by the Apostle Wilford Woodruff, at the celebration of the entrance of the pioneers into Great Salt Lake Valley, on the thirty-third anniversary of that event, July 24, 1880; in the pamphlet publication, "The Utah Pioneers," Salt Lake City, 1880, p. I7: "in 1833 the Saints of God were driven out of Jackson County, Missouri, by a lawless mob, into Clay County. Some were massacred, some whipped with hickory goads, and others were tarred and feathered. Their houses were burned, and their property was destroyed, and they were driven, penniless and destitute, across the river.... Parley P. Pratt, who, with his family, was now destitute of all earthly means of support, and Lyman Wight, with his wife lying beside a log in the woods, with a babe three days old, and without food, raiment, or shelter, volunteered to go to visit the Prophet of God.... When Elders Pratt and Wight arrived in Kirtland, they told their tale of woe to the Prophet Joseph, who asked the Lord what he should do. The Lord told him to go to and gather up the strength of the Lord's house, the young men and middle-aged, and go up and redeem Zion. It
Mormondom was immediately placed upon a war footing. Men and money were asked for, and Joseph announced that he intended to head the army of res. cue and relief in person, and lead it against the offending Missourians. This bold stand gave hope and courage to his followers. He set forth and preached the new crusade to the Mormon churches. The High-Priests and Elders took up the war-cry and repeated it everywhere. Mormons old and young responded, some through a high and genuine devotion to their faith, others because they did not dare refuse, and still others from a love of excitement and adventure. The army was rendezvoused in Kirtland in May, 1834, and numbered one hundred and thirty men, which increased to two hundred and five by accessions on the way. Among its members were Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Orson Hyde, Orson and Parley P. Pratt, and many other leading officers of the church. *
The rank and file, taken collectively, were hardly of a character to strike terror to any brave or organized foe, but the army looked upon itself as invincible, and certain to carry the day of battle in triumph.
was the will of God that they should gather up five hundred men, but they were not to go with less than one hundred.... I have not time to repeat the history of that journey here to-day, but the counsel and the word of the Lord, through the Prophet of the Lord, and its fulfillment, with our joys and our sorrows in connection with those scenes and events, are engraven upon our hearts as with an iron pen upon a rock, and the history thereof will live through all time and in eternity."
* The particulars of this march are taken from the account of "An Eye-Witness, one of the Sharp-Shooters" of the Army of Zion, given in "Mormonism and the Mormons," pp. 111 to 116.
The men were a motley lot, if we may take the word of some who saw them pass by, and of others who were among their numbers. Some who had offered themselves were rejected because they could not furnish weapons and show themselves in the possession of five dollars. Their arms were of a mixed character. Some had rifles, some pistols, and others old muskets. A few had swords that had been bequeathed by Revolutionary grandsires, while others wore huge butcher-knives. Many weapons were borrowed, others secured on credit and never paid for, while a few had been manufactured to order in the Mormon black. smith-shop.
The army left Kirtland on Monday, May 5th. Before its departure Joseph delivered a lengthy speech full of fire and wrath for his enemies, and glory and honor for his friends, and ending with the expectation that his own bones would be left to bleach upon the field of battle. The line of march was taken in the direction of Summit County, and on the second night an encampment was made at New Portage, forty miles from Kirtland and just below Akron. Here they were joined by more men. Smith organized them into bands of fourteen each, and assigned to each a captain, baggage-wagon, and a tent.
Smith was so far true to his old self that he looked carefully after the matter of finances. Before they left New Portage he said to his men, "I have this to propose: That you shall appoint a treasurer to take charge of whatever money you may have with you, and to pay it out as our general necessities may require."
They agreed. Smith was, of course, named as
treasurer, and elected. He pocketed the cash, and ordered the army to move on. Their flag was of white, with the word "Peace" upon it in letters of red.
Smith made his men behave themselves on the line of march, and molest no one of the country through which they travelled. They tramped by day and camped at night. There were twenty baggage-wagons in all, carrying food, clothing, and goods for the use of the destitute brethren in the West. Each of the bands above mentioned had its own cook, two firemen, two tent-makers, two watermen, one commissary, and two wagoners. At night there was a blast on the trumpet, at which sound, worship was held in every tent. In the morning this order of exercises was repeated. They crossed Ohio and Indiana, and the first halting-place of which special mention is made, was at Salt Creek, Illinois, where Lyman Wight and the Prophet's brother, Hyrum, Smith, joined them, with a reinforcement of twenty men.
Those who have discerned the true character of Smith, need hardly be told that he made the most of each occasion and incident found by the way, and of every possible turn and feature of the campaign. While the majority tramped through mud and sand, he had four fine horses for his special use. He carried an elegant brace of pistols that had been purchased on credit, a rifle, and a sword four feet in length, in the use of which he became quite expert. He had the usual number of revelations. In speaking of his army, he afterward said: "Their enemies were continually breathing threats of violence; the Saints did not fear, neither did they hesitate to prosecute
their journey, for God was with them, and His angels were before them, and the faith of the little band was unwavering. We knew that the angels were our companions, for we saw them." On reaching the borders of Illinois, a large mound or tumulus was discovered, and Smith ordered it to be opened. A foot from the top the bones of a human skeleton were discovered, and taken out and laid upon aboard. The chance here given to make an impression was
not overlooked. The Prophet gathered his men about him, and made a speech. He was," said Joseph, pointing to the bones, "a Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man. of God. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Omandagus, who was known from the hill Cumorah, to the Rocky Mountains. His name was Selph. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites."
One cannot but admire the wonderful power of Smith in meeting each event as it came, and in fit. ting the circumstances of any extraordinary occurrence to his own purpose. Nothing was so unexpected that it could take advantage of him; no truth so mighty that it could unhorse him or put his imagination to shame.
At Salt Creek the army remained in camp three days. The men were drilled in the use of the gun and sword. Their arms were inspected and put in repair. Lyman Wight was made second in command, with the title of "Fighting General." Smith and Wight each had an "Armor-Bearer," who was expected to be in constant attendance on his chief. Two companies of rangers or sharpshooters were
organized, who were to act as scouts or flankers when they should arrive upon the field of battle. Hyrum Smith was given charge of the battle-flag, which be kept constantly unfurled.
The march toward Missouri was resumed, and at the end of several days a halt was taken, and the soldiers ordered to go through a sham battle, in order to learn more fully the art of war before engaging the enemy. Four divisions were formed, and assigned to positions. The battle opened on true scientific principles, but as the men came to close quarters they began to do their work on a personal plan, and each fought as was the bent of his mind and his previous training. Some got behind trees, and fought Indian fashion. Some ran away. Some dropped their guns, and went back to the natural fist. Some noses were tapped, and one or two men wounded, while a number of guns and swords were broken. Smith warmly complimented his men on their courage and skill, and everybody was full of happiness and pride.
The Mississippi was reached, and here some of the enemy came in sight. They were certain people of Missouri who wanted no more Mormonism over there, But Smith determined to push ahead. As the river was a mile and a half wide, and the army possessed of one ferryboat, it took two days to get everybody across. Once over, the army was placed on a war footing; scouts on horseback kept a lookout several miles in advance. Smith, who knew how to take care of himself as well as any man alive, dressed in disguise, changing his disguises frequently, riding a great deal of the time in the baggage-wagons, and, as one of the men has since said, "looking as though he expected
every moment to be his last." One night they approached a large prairie, on which could be seen no sign of a habitation. Smith insisted that they must move on, or the enemy would attack them where they were. Wight refused to enter the prairie, as the men were tired, and no water or wood could be found for miles ahead. "Well," said Smith, "if we can cook nothing, I will show the men how to eat raw pork."
"I will not go ahead," said Wight.
"We must go on," said Hyrum Smith, the standard. bearer. "I know by the spirit that it is dangerous to remain here."
"But I will not go on," said Wight. This is the place where we should remain."
Finally Joseph fell back on his weapon of last resort. He had a revelation, and exclaimed: "Thus saith the Lord God, march on!" And on they marched.
They tramped for fifteen miles, which brought them near the middle of the prairie, and encamped beside a muddy pool. Here the squabble broke out afresh, and Smith became especially arrogant. He declared: "I know exactly when to pray, when to sing, and when to laugh, by the Spirit of God,"
Wight and his supporters retorted, and before morning broke there was serious danger of mutiny in the camp.
Smith, as another safeguard to his person, kept an ugly bulldog that was especially cross at night, and had attempted to bite a number of people. One of the captains, who was also high-priest, said to Smith: "If that dog ever attempts to bite me, I will shoot him on the instant."
"If you continue in that spirit," was the retort, "and do not repent, the dog will yet eat your flesh off your bones, and you will not have power to resist." * Whether or not the man repented, the fulfillment of the prophecy was made impossible a few nights later, when a sentinel to whom the dog was too attentive, ended its career forever. On June 3d the Prophet, who may have had information not open to his followers, of a new danger ahead, mounted a wagon, and calling his men about him, declared that he would deliver a prophecy. After an exhortation to faithfulness and humility, he said that the Lord had revealed to him the coming of a scourge upon the camp, "in consequence of the fractious and unruly spirits" that had appeared among them,
This warning was made good a few days later, when the cholera appeared in the camp with such virulence that thirteen men died before its ravages were stayed. Smith remained in camp through it all, and did what lay in his power to relieve suffering and make the visitation add to the hold he already had upon his followers. He made attempts at cure by "the laying on of hands and prayer," but as no miracle was wrought in response, he abandoned the effort, declaring that he had learned "by painful experience" that "when the Great Jehovah decrees
* "This was the commencement of a controversy between the Prophet and his High-Priest which was not settled till some time after their return to headquarters, at Kirtland, when the former underwent a formal trial on divers serious charges, before his priests, honorably acquitted, and the latter made to acknowledge that he had been possessed of several devils for many weeks." From the above account, "Mormonism and the Mormons," p. 115.
destruction, man must not attempt to stay His hand."
When the advance onward was resumed Smith discovered that exciting times and uncertain results awaited him if he persisted until a collision with armed enemies was precipitated, and that an over. .powering force could be raised against him. Many of those who followed him were full of faith that a miracle would be wrought to give them victory in all cases, but Smith had reason for grave doubts upon that point. He soon came to the conclusion that a diplomatic retrogression from his high ground of defiance was needed to help him out of the position he had assumed.
When within a few miles of Liberty, Clay County, a, deputation from the body of citizens who had already collected called on Smith and asked him the meaning of his warlike array. On his response, they very decidedly warned him that any overt act on his part would get himself and his followers into trouble. They showed him that the people of several counties were acting in concert, and that the consequences of any action on the part of his followers would be upon his own head.
The Prophet saw that the time had come to fight or back down, and that the former course would give him more risk and danger than he had bargained for. But another course would lay him open to the charge from his followers that he had disobeyed the heavenly orders under which they had come forth. He found a way out of the dilemma. He had an "annex" to his first revelation, soon after the deputation left, which declared that they "had been tried even as
Abraham was tried, and the offering was accepted by the Lord; and when Abraham received his reward they would receive theirs." In short, the war was at an end, and the promise of spoliation of their enemies was postponed until such time as the case of Abraham was taken up for consideration. The army of Zion, as Joseph had called his troops, was disbanded. * Such as could get home and wished to, departed for the East, but the main body remained and became afterward a part of Nauvoo. Each received a formal discharge from General Wight, and that was all he did receive from Smith or any one else. Not a cent of the money that had been given the Prophet as treasurer ever saw its way back to the pockets of the men who gave it.
Smith and his soldiers had been warmly received by the homeless 'refugees in Clay County, and the supplies of food and clothing they had brought were doubly welcome. The Prophet and his lieutenants went to work with vigor, and soon established the discouraged and chaotic community upon a new basis, and gave courage and hope where only fear and despair had before existed. On July 9th, Joseph started upon his return trip to Kirtland, reaching home on August 2d.
* Brigham Young never lost sight of his old companions-in-arms in this bloodless foray. Years afterward, at the close of each Mormon conference in Salt Lake City, he would call together the remnants of "Zion's army," with their families, and entertain them with a feast; speeches, songs, and "campfire" memories served to enliven the occasion,
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