Joseph Smith III Comes to the Reorganization
RLDS History of the Church 3:242–273
The Ordination of Joseph Smith III
The year 1860 opened with new hope born of manifestations and testimonies pointing to the new year as destined to be one of great importance to the church.
The expected periodical appeared in January, bearing the title of “The True Latter Day Saints’ Herald.” It contained a statement from the “publishing committee” setting forth the purpose and position of the paper,1 while the issues between the Reorganization and other organizations were freely discussed in its pages. This silent messenger found its way into many of the homes of latter-day Israel. It brought joy, comfort, and hope to many honest humble ones, while it sounded a note of warning to the usurper and transgressor.
Taken in connection with subsequent events an address written by Z. H. Gurley, Sen., and Reuben Newkirk, of the apostolic quorum, at Zarahemla, Wisconsin, February 8, 1860, and published in the March number of the Herald, is very significant, and bears the marks of prophetic foresight. It is as follows:—
Zenos H. Gurley
Bro. Sheen:—Since our last communication we have been commanded to write again, again, and again, upon the necessity of our immediate obedience to the commandment given us nearly seven years since, to organize, that the way may be prepared for the coming forth of the legitimate heir, to the Presidency of the Melchisedec Priesthood; and cause the flame to be published and forwarded to all who are with us in the faith, calling upon them in the name of the Lord Jesus to give heed to and obey the same.
Brethren, by reference to the Book of Covenants, section 100 (101), you will see that as far back as the year 1834, the calamity that has since come upon the church was plainly foreseen, and the means by and through which our redemption and the redemption of our brethren should come is there plainly spoken of; and had we understood what was written, none of us need to have been in darkness in relation to this all-important matter; for the Lord said, "after much tribulation and the tribulation of your brethren cometh your redemption and the redemption of your brethren." He said, “I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel." You are aware that at the time this revelation was given, Bro. Joseph was raised up and was the Lord’s mouthpiece to the church, as Moses was in his day to the church in the wilderness. See Book of Covenants 104 (3):42. Hence if the Lord did not design to take Joseph from the church, that they might go into darkness,—that they might learn obedience by the things that they should suffer,—why did he tell us so many years since that this event should happen, and show us the means through which our deliverance and the deliverance of our brethren will come? The Lord foresaw it all, and has virtually told us of it, and we knew it not until it pleased him to open our understanding, that we with you might go forward and prepare the way for that deliverance that was promised us so many years ago.
Our duty at the next conference is to organize and set in order all the quorums in the church under the First Presidency. With that quorum we have nothing to do. God will, in his own time, raise up the man like unto Moses. The church can easily give him his counselors, and then the organization will be completed.
To organize acceptably it will require all the faith, talent, and experience amongst us. We want twelve of the best men (men of sound minds, that will not turn either to the right or left, but will in the fear of God discharge their duty) to fill the High Council. In a word, we want the best men among us to fill important offices in the priesthood, that from henceforth this work may be under the guidance of men of experience, who fear God and will work righteousness. This can be done as we have proposed in a former letter; viz., by each church or branch sending up delegates. It will require the presence at conference of as many of the elders of the church as can possibly get there, hence thus hath the Lord God of Israel said to us by the voice of his Spirit, "I command you to call upon all the elders of my church to assemble themselves together at the next April Conference, to be held at Amboy, commencing on the 6th of April, 1860, that you may organize yourselves even as I have told you in a former commandment, and inasmuch as circumstances prevent, send up your names and places of abode. Delay not the work, for my people are crying unto me day and night for deliverance, therefore organize yourselves that deliverance may come."
Brethren, will you obey the call? If you say yes, then put yourselves in readiness; and if you have to preach your way up to the conference, then start in time. You know how to travel without purse or scrip. You have often done it. You can do it again. Are we the blood of Ephraim? If we are, let us show our blood by our works. Is there any sacrifice too great for us to make for this work? "From Ephraim was my fruit found," saith the Lord by the prophet. Come on, brethren, and you shall realize far more than you anticipate. Our time to do this work is limited. We knew it not, until recently. If we fail through neglect, "seven men must perish," saith the Lord our God.
We are aware that our position and declarations to the church have caused many of the wise ones of the church to smile at our (supposed) folly; brethren, heed them not:—
"We know that we know,
For the Spirit of Christ
Tells his servants they cannot be wrong."
Their laughter will soon be turned to mourning. While they mourn you will rejoice; not in their calamity, but in the fulfillment of all the promises of God to us.
You are aware, brethren, that the rejection of the church produced an effect on the dead as well as the living; so will its reorganization. In Book of Covenants, section 58 (18) ,you will read about a feast provided for all nations. The first invitation was to the learned and noble, etc. That has already been. Now comes the day of the Lord’s power. This is the work that now lies before you. Shall we not go forward? As Brother Joseph said, "On, on, to victory." If the elders, as a body, will give heed to the commandment to assemble, and by their faith, wisdom, and patience help to accomplish the organization as commanded, they shall know ere long why the figures 1860 were seen inscribed upon the heavens, several years ago, as testified to by many creditable witnesses living in Washington County, Indiana.2 This work, brethren, is of vast importance. Suffer us to exhort you to seek the Lord by fasting and prayer. Rest not until you receive the Holy Spirit which leadeth into all truth, and from this time forward until you reach the conference make it a special subject of prayer, that you may know the mind and will of God concerning this matter, that you may act in faith, nothing doubting; and ere we close we say again to all the elders of the church, Come, come, meet us at conference, that you may take your places in your respective quorums. Farewell.
Z. H. GURLEY.
ZARAHEMLA, FEBRUARY 8, 1860.
—True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, vol. 1, pp. 60–62.
On April 6, 1860, an anxious and expectant people gathered at Amboy, Illinois. For several years they had relied upon a promise that the Lord would send a prophet to the church, and many now felt assured that the time had come. So the convening of this conference was looked forward to with more than usual anxiety and anticipation.
Conference organized by selecting Elders Z. E. Gurley, Sen., and William Marks to preside, and A. G. Jackson and Isaac Sheen to act as clerks.
The forenoon was devoted to preaching by Elders Z. H. Gurley, Sen., Samuel Powers, and E. C. Briggs.
In the afternoon, after remarks by President Gurley, Horace Bartlett, Frederick Squires, and Joseph Robinson were by vote admitted to fellowship.
Joseph Smith, son of Joseph Smith, the Seer, was then introduced to the conference, and delivered an address, explaining in brief his position and the causes which brought him there. He said:—
Joseph Smith III
I would say to you, brethren, as I hope you may be, and in faith I trust you are, as a people that God has promised his blessings upon, I came not here of myself, but by the influence of the Spirit. For some time past I have received manifestations pointing to the position which I am about to assume.
I wish to say that I have come here not to be dictated by any men or set of men. I have come in obedience to a power not my own, and shall be dictated by the power that sent me.
God works by means best known to himself, and I feel that for some time past he has been pointing out a work for me to do.
For two or three years past deputations have been waiting on me, urging me to assume the responsibilities of the leadership of the church; but I have answered each and every one of them that I did not wish to trifle with the faith of the people.
I do not propose to assume this position in order to amass wealth out of it, neither have I sought it as a profit.
I know opinions are various in relation to these matters. I have conversed with those who told me they would not hesitate one moment in assuming the high and powerful position as the leader of this people. But I have been well aware of the motives which might be ascribed to me,—motives of various kinds, at the foundation of all which is selfishness,—should I come forth to stand in the place where my father stood.
I have believed that should I come without the guarantee of the people, I should be received in blindness, and would be liable to be accused of false motives. Neither would I come to you without receiving favor from my heavenly Father.
I have endeavored as far as possible to keep myself unbiased. I never conversed with J. J. Strang, for in those days I was but a boy, and in fact am now but a boy. I had not acquired a sufficient knowledge of men to be capable of leading myself, setting aside the leading of others.
There is but one principle taught by the leaders of any faction of this people that I hold in utter abhorrence; that is a principle taught by Brigham Young and those believing in him. I have been told that my father taught such doctrines. I have never believed it and never can believe it. If such things were done, then I believe they never were done by divine authority. I believe my father was a good man, and a good man never could have promulgated such doctrines.
I believe in the doctrines of honesty and truth. The Bible contains such doctrines, and so do the Book of Mormon and the Book of Covenants, which are auxiliaries to the Bible.
I have my peculiar notions in regard to revelations, but am happy to say that they accord with those I am to associate with, at least those of them with whom I have conversed. I am not very conversant with those books, [pointing to a volume before him,] not so conversant as I should be and will be. The time has been when the thought that I should assume the leadership of this people was so repulsive to me, that it seemed as if the thing could never be possible.
The change in my feelings came slowly, and I did not suffer myself to be influenced by extraneous circumstances, and have never read the numerous works sent me which had a bearing on this subject, for fear they might entice me into wrongdoing. It is my determination to do right and let Heaven take care of the result. Thus I come to you free from any taint of sectarianism, taints from thoughts of the varied minds I have come in contact with; and thus hope to be able to build up my own reputation as a man.
It has been said that a Mormon elder, though but a stripling, possessed a power unequalled [unequaled] by almost any other preacher. This arises from a depth of feeling, and the earnestness with which they believe the doctrines they teach; and it is this feeling that I do not wish to trifle with.
I know that Brigham Young is considered a man of talent, by some a bold and fortunate man, and by others an unscrupulous and bad man, accordingly as circumstances differ.
Should you take me as a leader, I propose that all should be dealt by in mercy, open as to Gentile or Jew; but I ask not to be received except as by the ordinances of the church.
Some, who had ought to know the proprieties of the church, have told me that no certain form was necessary in order for me to assume the leadership—that the position came by right of lineage; yet I know that if I attempted to lead as a prophet by these considerations, and not by a call from Heaven, men would not be led to believe who do not believe now. And so I have come not of my own dictation to this sacred office.
I believe that we owe duties to our country and to society, and are amenable to the laws of the land, and have always considered it my duty to act upon this principle; and I do say that among the people where I live I have as many good and true friends as I could desire among those of any society.
The people of Hancock County have been strongly anti-Mormon, and there I know of no enemies. I have been engaged in business with anti-Mormons, I have mingled with them, and have not only been obliged not to make any remarks which might give offense, but also to smother my own feelings, if I had any. I hold no enmity to any man living who has fought this doctrine; nor do I know any who hold enmity towards me. I hope there are none.
In conclusion, I will come to you if you will receive me, give my ability, and the influence my name may bring, together with what little power I possess; and I trust by your prayers and faith to be sustained. I pledge myself to promulgate no doctrine that shall not be approved by you or the code of good morals.
I have my shortcomings, but I trust as a leader I shall do nothing to lead astray. If I do so, I shall expect condemnation; for I am satisfied that this people, governed by the same policy, would serve me worse than they have Brigham Young before, for I would be wholly deserted.
A gentleman from Utah informs me that a majority of Brigham Young’s people were restive—not satisfied with their condition—but dared say nothing. That those who preached and those who practiced his teachings were, in reality, the old fogies of the institution, the younger taking a different view of matters.
I do not care to say any more at present, but will simply add that if the same Spirit which prompts my coming, prompts also my reception, I am with you.—True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, vol. 1, pp. 102–104.
Emma in Her Twilight Years,
On motion of Isaac Sheen it was “resolved, that Brother Joseph Smith be chosen Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ, and the successor of his father.” His mother, Mrs. Emma Bidamon, widow of Joseph Smith the Martyr, was also received into fellowship by unanimous vote. Joseph Smith was then ordained President of the High Priesthood of the Church, under the hands of Elders Z. H. Gurley, Sen., of the Quorum of Twelve, and William Marks, of the High Priests, according to the minutes of the conference.3 This ordination was previously ordered by the unanimous vote of the conference.
The ordination of Joseph Smith has been considered irregular upon the assumption that it was a case where the lesser ordained the greater, but the defenders of this ordination reply by citing that in 1831 elders ordained high priests. (See this work, vol. 1, pp. 193, 194.) Again, the first President of the Church was ordained, as President of the High Priesthood, in a very similar manner to the ordination now under consideration. It was in a conference where no higher authority was present than that of high priest. (This work, vol. 1, p. 244.) In the case now in question, though the apostolic authority be denied, it cannot be denied that William Marks was a high priest in the days of the Martyr, and hence held the same authority by which Joseph the Martyr was ordained. The objector has replied that William Marks was expelled from the church, but the evidence of this expulsion has been and is challenged by the Reorganized Church. The vision of Joseph Smith is also cited as evidence that William Marks was to triumph and receive the approval of God. (See this work, vol. 2, p. 147.)
To prove that the lesser cannot ordain the greater, the objector sometimes uses the argument that a stream cannot rise higher than its fountain. It is answered, that to locate the fountain of the priesthood in the man ordaining, is a mistake, as he is only the channel through which the priesthood flows. The fountain is in God. A stream can be forced upward in a channel, providing the fountain is higher than the point to be reached. Hence as God is higher than the President of the church, the objector does not prove by this analogy what he seeks to prove.
Bishop Israel L. Rogers
On separate motions the following were chosen members of the High Council; viz.: John C. Gaylord, William Aldrich, George Morey, Edwin Cadwell, Calvin Beebe, Jacob Doan, Oliver P. Dunham, Zenos Whitcomb, Lyman Hewitt, Dwight Webster, W. H. Blair, and A. G. Jackson. The first six named were ordained by William Marks and Z. E. Gurley, Sen., the others by William W. Blair and Samuel Powers. Isaac Sheen was ordained President of the High Priests’ Quorum, by William Marks and William W. Blair. James Blakeslee, Edmund C. Briggs, Crowell G. Lanphear, William D. Morton, and Archibald M. Wilsey were ordained Presidents of Seventy, by Elders William Marks and Z. E. Gurley, Sen. George Rarick and John A. McIntosh were chosen Presidents of Seventy, and subsequently ordained. Stephen J. Stone was chosen and ordained President of the Elders’ Quorum. On the 7th Israel L. Rogers was ordained Bishop of the Church, under the hands of Elders Blair, Gurley, and Powers, as directed by President Joseph Smith. On the 8th William Livingston and John Robinson were baptized by Elder W. W. Blair, and George A. Blakeslee was ordained an elder.
On the 9th the following branches were reported: Farm Creek, Union Grove, Belvidere, Little River, Galland’s Grove, and Franklin, Iowa; Sandwich, Batavia, Amboy, and Fox River, Illinois; Galien, Michigan; Blanchardville, Wisconsin.
Wilson Sellers was ordained President of Priests’ Quorum, Charles Williams President of Teachers’ Quorum, and L. D. Rogers President of Deacons’ Quorum. These were ordained by Elders Blair and Powers.
The following missions were assigned: W. W. Blair, Cincinnati, Kirtland, and vicinities; A. M. Wilsey, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota; Samuel Powers, Fox River, Illinois, and vicinity; C. G. Lanphear, George Rarick, J. A. McIntosh, Calvin Beebe, John Landers, and Andrew Cairns, as circumstances permit.
The following comment from the Amboy Times, copied by Saints’ Herald, will indicate how this movement was considered locally:—
THE MORMON CONFERENCE.
We devote considerable space to the proceedings of this body, believing that they are of great importance to us, even as a nation. There is a great body of these people scattered through the States, who, unwilling to follow the fortunes and doctrines of Brigham Young, have been quietly waiting for the time to come when they could organize under a lineal descendant of Joseph Smith, as their prophet. That time has at length arrived. Joseph Smith, Jr., occupies the position which his father once held. A new era in the history of Mormonism has dawned, an era which we hope will greatly improve the name of this despised people.
Whatever ideas we may entertain in relation to the doctrines of the Mormons, we must look with approbation and satisfaction upon any movement on their part which look towards a radical reformation in their practices as a people.
For many years past Brigham Young had been looked upon as the embodiment of Mormonism, and those professing to be Mormons have been regarded as no better than he. Henceforth, they, or at least one branch of them, are to be judged by a different standard. The eyes of the world will now be turned upon young Joseph. Hitherto this man has borne a good name. His talents are of no mean order; and it is earnestly to be hoped that he will use them for good, and not a bad purpose.”—The True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, vol. 1, p. 101.
It would be well to give here some of the causes leading up to the action of Joseph Smith in rejecting the people in Utah and in accepting the Reorganization. This can best be done in his own language, and so we quote extracts from his autobiography as published in the “Life of Joseph the Prophet,” by Tullidge:—
It was during this summer  and fall that I had the first serious impressions concerning my connection with the work of my father. That spring, if my memory is correct, there was a large emigration to Utah; a part of which was camped at Keokuk, twelve miles below Nauvoo, on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River. A delegation of them visited Nauvoo, and with one of them, whose name if I learned it, I do not now remember, I had a long conversation respecting Mormonism. I had talked with many upon the matter; but had never taken the subject into very earnest consideration. This person urged that I was possibly doing a great wrong in allowing the years to pass by unimproved. I stated to him that I was ready to do any work that might fall to my lot, or that I might be called to do. I had no fellowship with the leadership in the Salt Lake Church, and could not then give my sanction to things there; my prejudices were against them. In the summer and fall several things occurred that served to bring the question up; my sickness brought me near to death; my coming of age, and my choice of a profession were all coincident events; and during my recovery I had opportunity for reflection, as for weeks I could do no work. One day, after my return to health was assured, I had lain down to rest in my room; the window was open to the south and the fresh breeze swept in through the trees and half closed blinds, I had slept and woke refreshed; my mind recurred to the question of my future life and what its work should be. I had been and was still reading law under the care of a lawyer named William McLennan, and it was partially decided that I should continue that study. While weighing my desires and capabilities for this work, the question came up, Will I ever have anything to do with Mormonism? If so, how and what will it be? I was impressed that there was truth in the work my father had done. I believed the gospel so far as I comprehended it. Was I to have no part in that work as left by him? While engaged in this contemplation and perplexed by these recurring questions, the room suddenly expanded and passed away. I saw stretched out before me towns, cities, busy marts, courthouses, courts, and assemblies of men, all busy and all marked by those characteristics that are found in the world, where men win place and renown. This stayed before my vision till I had noted clearly that choice of preferment here was offered to him who would enter in, but who did so must go into the busy whirl and be submerged by its din, bustle, and confusion. In the subtle transition of a dream I was gazing over a wide expanse of country in a prairie land; no mountains were to be seen, but far as the eye could reach, hill and dale, hamlet and village, farm and farmhouse, pleasant cot and homelike place, everywhere betokening thrift, industry, and the pursuits of a happy peace were open to the view. I remarked to him standing by me, but whose presence I had not before noticed, "This must be the country of a happy people." To this he replied, "Which would you prefer, life, success, and renown among the busy scenes that you first saw, or a place among these people, without honors or renown? Think of it well, for the choice will be offered to you sooner or later, and you must be prepared to decide. Your decision once made you cannot recall it, and must abide the result."
No time was given me for a reply, for as suddenly as it had come, so suddenly was it gone, and I found myself sitting upright on the side of the bed where I had been lying, the rays of the declining sun shining athwart the western hills and over the shimmering river, making the afternoon all glorious with their splendor, shone into my room instinct with life and motion, filling me with gladness that I should live. From that hour, at leisure, at work or play, I kept before me what had been presented, and was at length prepared to answer when the opportunity for the choice should be given.
I pursued my legal studies at intervals with other reading, some of it solid and meritorious and some of it worthless, without any further thing of note occurring to bring the matter up again till sometime in the early part of the winter of 1855, I think, when William Walker, an elder from Utah, on his way from Utah to Cape Good Hope, called on me. I had known him when I was a boy. He worked for my father, and I think was engaged in teaming at the time of Father’s death, having that year married a Miss Olive Farr, and living at the Mansion. With him I had the first serious disagreement about polygamy. It is not needful here to repeat the dispute; he affirmed, I denied.
In January of 1855 I went to Canton, Illinois, there to prosecute my study of the law in the office of Hon. William Kellogg, at that time an able and influential lawyer of Fulton County. I remained here the better part of a year, visiting home in the spring and being present at the death of Grandmother Smith in May. In June I was chosen clerk of the City Council, and was also employed by Postmaster Parley C. Stearns in the post office, to fill his place when legal duties called him away. During my stay I boarded part of the time at Christian Bidamon’s, a brother to my stepfather, and the remainder with Abel H. White, whose wife was a sister to the Major, my stepfather. I made many friends during my stay in Canton, who still express themselves warmly towards me.
I returned home in 1856, owing to the want of means to continue my studies at Canton, and began farm life with my brother Frederick as my partner. October 22 of this year I was married to Miss Emaline Griswold, the daughter of the widow of Elias Griswold, who had moved into Nauvoo soon after the saints had left, and who had afterwards died while in Texas on a business venture there. Some of her friends had tried to induce her not to comply with her contract to marry me, but failed; and, on the evening of that day, left alone by her every relative, in the presence of Mathew Waldenmeyer, a Presbyterian clergyman, she pledged herself to me in marriage.
In the fall of this year three events transpired that had much to do with deciding my course religiously and aiding me to answer the question, What part in my father’s work, if any, I was to take. For a number of years I had been more or less intimate with the family of Christopher E. Yates, a friend to the saints, who at the time of the disturbances in Hancock County, for his outspoken denunciation of mob violence and mob law, had suffered the loss of a fine barn, a lot of grain, hay, and a number of horses by fire, set by incendiaries out of revenge as it is supposed, and who had removed with other citizens into Nauvoo and bought property there. With one of his sons, Putnam, circumstances had made me well acquainted. He had crossed the plains a number of times, had been in Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah, and in California. He and I had frequently discussed Mormonism; that is, some parts of it, and he had persistently insisted that I could do a great and an excellent work by going to Utah, and as he put it, ‘taking the lead away from Brigham; breaking up that system of things there,’ or to ‘fall in with the style of things there, become a leader, get rich, marry three or four wives and enjoy yourself.’ Though not a religious man himself, he thought it might be a duty that I owed the people of Utah. He further thought, that from his experience in Utah, and the expressions he had heard among the people there, that I would be received with open arms and could succeed.
To this I replied as best I could, until the question, Why not go to Utah? There are the men who were with my father, or a great many of them. There, a large part of the family; there, also, seem to be the only ones making profession of belief in Mormonism who appear to be doing anything. Does not duty demand that I go there and clear my name and honor of the charge of ingratitude to my father’s character? Is not polygamy, against which you object, a correct tenet? Is not your objection one of prejudice only? These and a thousand others of similar import were suggested, and added their weight to the difficulty of the situation. In the height of it, the words suggested to one who had gone before me came to me with force; "If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God." Why not I? Was I not in a position to need wisdom? And was I not destitute of sufficient to enable me to properly decide? I had for three or four years been investigating spiritual phenomena; had read some of the productions of Andrew J. Davis; had also read a little of Dr. Emanuel Swedenborg’s philosophy; but I found no good in spiritualism; the phenomena were physical and gross; no response from the departed spirits of any of the family, though severally appealed to in turn ever came; and the manifestations though strange and material were altogether inadequate for the deductions spiritists drew from them. I did not give credence to the philosophy. My human intelligence was at fault, I could not decide. I believed that He who had enabled my father to decide which of all should receive his attention, could, if he would, enable me to decide whether I should, or should not, have anything to do with Mormonism; and if so, what. I proceeded upon this conclusion.
A year or two before this we had raised an excellent crop of wheat, upon a piece of land lying in the south of our meadow, and this man Yates had assisted in doing some of the work. While engaged in it we had some conversation about Utah. After this, I did not see him for some months. One day, while pondering these questions, (and here, unlike some, I cannot certainly state whether morn or even, only that the sun was shining,) I suddenly found myself sowing this piece of land to wheat. My brother and this Mr. Yates I saw harrowing the wheat after my sowing. In passing over the land I met Mr. Yates as he drove to and fro, and our conversation was upon this Utah subject; and the same arguments and statements were repeated by him. To these I was urging again my reluctance to move, and the question was again presented, Why not go to Utah? I paused, rested the bag of grain that I was carrying across my shoulder, upon my knee, and turned to answer him. I heard a slight noise like the rush of the breeze, that arrested my speech and my attention. I turned my gaze slightly upward and saw descending towards me a sort of cloud, funnel shaped, with the wide part upward. It was luminous, and of such color and brightness that it was clearly seen, though the sun shone in its summer strength. It descended rapidly and settling upon and over me enveloped me completely, so that I stood within its radiance.
As the cloud rested upon the ground at my feet, the words "Because the light in which you stand is greater than theirs," sounded in my ears clearly and distinctly. Slowly the cloud passed away and the vision closed. A few days after this occurred I met this man Putnam Yates, and had a conversation with him in which he again urged upon me the idea of going to Utah; and my answer was in exact accordance with what I had seen. The other question, "Is polygamy of God?" was as distinctly and definitely answered to me, as was the one referred to above; and the answer was, "No," and I was directed that I was to have nothing to do with it, but was to oppose it.
Much of my opposition to polygamy has been charged to my mother’s teaching and influence. Mother’s influence may have had something to do with controlling my youth; but she did not trouble herself to teach me anything specially in regard to that tenet. I knew what she had said at times to others, and that she was opposed to it. I never questioned her upon the subject until near the close of her life. I relied upon what was given me concerning my own action in the premises, and trusted to my own judgment upon the records of the church as published. I heard her replies to questions put by Elder Jason W. Briggs before his mission to England; and interpreted the events of my childhood, remembered by me, in the light of the record.
The question of my going to Utah in order to fill the destiny appointed me was now disposed of, and I was prepared for two events that occurred subsequently to what is here related.
A week after my marriage my wife went with me to the farm and here we began our married life. We had hardly been settled more than a month when I was visited by George A. Smith and Erastus Snow. They came to visit and chat with me, and to discharge a commission intrusted to them by Mr. Fred Piercy, the artist to whom I had sat for a crayon sketch for his work "Route to Salt Lake," referred to elsewhere; he had sent me a copy of that work by them. I made them as welcome as my means permitted, set before them something to eat, and did my best to answer their inquiries and entertain them. Elder George A. talked but little, leaving the burden of conversation to Elder Snow. I was at this visit asked if I did not intend to come to Utah to see them there, the question being supplemented by the statement that they were looking for me to come; that I had many friends there, who had been friends to my father; that they thought I ought to be with them, and felt a great desire to see me among them.
To this I replied that I might some day visit them when a railway was completed that I could go and come without let or hindrance.
"But," said Elder Snow, "we want you to come and stay." In reply to this I stated that "I could not do that in the sense conveyed, so long as such things were taught and practiced there as I had reason to believe were taught and practiced."
"You refer to plurality," said Elder Snow; and I answered him, "Yes, I refer to the doctrine of polygamy as it is called in the States."
"Why, you believe in the Book of Mormon, do you not?" inquired Elder Smith.
I replied to him, "I believe in the book; but do not believe the construction that you Utah people put upon it."
Other conversation took place of a general character, mainly between Elder Snow and myself, until they left, the interview lasting some two and a half or three hours.
Not more than three or four weeks elapsed after the visit of Elders Snow and Smith when I was visited by Elders Samuel H. Gurley and Edmund C. Briggs, sent as delegates from the Reorganized Church at Zarahemla, Wisconsin, with a commission to deliver what they believed to be the word of the Lord to me:—
THE CHURCH IN ZARAHEMLA, WISCONSIN, TO JOSEPH SMITH.
Our faith is not unknown to you, neither our hope in the regathering of the pure in heart enthralled in darkness, together with the means, to the accomplishment of the same; viz., that the seed of him to whom the work was first committed should stand forth and bear the responsibility (as well as wear the crown) of a wise masterbuilder—to close up the breach, and to combine in one a host, who, though in captivity and sorely tried, still refuse to strengthen the hands of usurpers. As that seed, to whom pertains this right, and heaven-appointed duty, you cannot be unmindful nor indifferent. The God of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob covenanted with them and their seed. So the God of Joseph covenanted with him and his seed, that his word should not depart out of the mouth of his seed, nor out of the mouth of his seed’s seed, till the end come. A Zerubbabel in Israel art thou. As a nail fastened in a sure place, so are the promises unto thee to make thee a restorer in Zion—to set in order the house of God. And the Holy Spirit that searcheth the deep things of God, hath signified to us that the time has come. For, through fasting and prayer, hath the answer from God come; unto us, saying, Communicate with my servant Joseph Smith, son of Joseph the Prophet. Arise, call upon God and be strong, for a deliverer art thou to the Latter Day Saints. And the Holy Spirit is thy prompter. The apostles, elders, and saints who have assembled with us, have beheld the vacant seat and the seed that is wanting. And like Ezra of old with his brethren, by the direction of the Holy Spirit have we sent faithful messengers to bear this our message to you, trusting that you will by their hands notify us of your readiness to occupy that seat, and answer to the name and duties of that seed. For this have our prayers been offered up without ceasing for the last five years. We are assured that the same Spirit that has testified to us, has signified the same things to you. Many have arisen perverting the work of the Lord. But the good and the true are throughout the land waiting the true successor of Joseph the Prophet, as President of the Church and of the priesthood. In our publications—sent to you—we have shown the right of successorship to rest in the literal descendant of the chosen seed, to whom the promise was made, and also the manner of ordination thereto. We cannot forbear reminding you that the commandments, as well as the promises given to Joseph, your father, were given to him, and to his seed. And in the name of our Master, even Jesus Christ, as moved upon by the Holy Ghost we say, Arise in the strength of the Lord and realize those promises by executing those commandments. And we, by the grace of God, are thy helpers in restoring the exiled sons and daughters of Zion to their inheritances in the kingdom of God and to the faith once delivered to the saints.
Holding fast that which is good and resisting evil, we invoke the blessings of the God of Israel upon thee and upon all saints, for whom we will ever pray.
J. W. BRIGGS,
Representative President of the Church
and the Priesthood in Zarahemla.
ZARAHEMLA, November 18, 1856.
The reception that these brethren met with was not a flattering one. Elder Gurley stated their mission, and presented the document containing the message to me. I heard what he had to say; I read the message that they brought, but could not accept it as they had hoped. It was not to me the word of the Lord. Elder Briggs vehemently urged the matter upon me; and announced the culmination of the message in tones of thunder, and almost dictatorially directed me to accept the message, and do as directed therein; or reject it at my peril.
I met this vehemence indignantly, and almost turned these messengers out of doors. But, through the calmer, humbler efforts of Elder Gurley and the interposition of my wife, the storm abated; I invited them to stay over night, and that when the morning came, I would accompany them to town and would then give them a final answer. In the morning I went with them to Nauvoo, introduced them to my mother and stepfather, went with them into a room, where quietly and peaceably Elder Gurley and I talked the situation over. I gave them my answer which was this: What they came to bring might be the word of the Lord; I could not say that it was not. I had, however, no testimony that it was. That I was prepared to do what God required of me, if he would make it known to me what it was; that I believed that he could reveal himself if he would; that I believed that my father was called of God to do a work; and that I was satisfied that that work was true, whether I ever had anything to do with it or not, that I did not then know whether I should ever be called to take any part in that work; but that if I were, I was ready, and that it would have to be made clear to me, in person, as well as to others what that work was; that I could not move upon the evidence given to others only. That they might be assured that I should not go to Salt Lake to affiliate with them there. And finally, that if it should be made clear to me that it was my duty to cast the fortunes of my life and my labor with the work and the people that they were representing, I should without hesitation do it, but that I could not then do so. Upon this understanding we parted, Elder Gurley returning to report the result of their mission; Elder Briggs declining to accompany him home, for reasons known to himself; and I to my farmer’s work. Elder Briggs stopped in the city and neighborhood for nearly a year, worked for me a part of the time, and returned at his leisure.—Life of Joseph the Prophet, pp. 756–769.
This makes clear the reasons of Joseph Smith for rejecting the Utah faction; also his reason for postponing a decisive answer to the Reorganization.
Again, he wrote concerning his decision to accept the Reorganization, and of subsequent events, as follows:—
During the year 1859 the question of my connection with my father’s work was finally determined. I became satisfied that it was my duty. The queries heretofore referred to were one by one being settled; until the final one, where and with whom should my life-labor lie? was the only one left. This was determined by a similar manifestation to others that I had received to this effect: "The Saints reorganizing at Zarahemla and other places, is the only organized portion of the church accepted by me. I have given them my Spirit, and will continue to do so while they remain humble and faithful."
This was in the fall of 1859, and in the winter I resolved to put myself in communication with the brethren of the Reorganized Church. In accordance with this resolution I wrote the following letter to Elder William Marks, then residing at Shabbona Grove, DeKalb County, Illinois, announcing my intention to make the effort to take up the work left by my father, and asking for a correspondence:—
NAUV00, March 5, 1860.
Mr. William Marks; Sir.—I am soon going to take my father’s place at the head of the Mormon Church, and I wish that you, and some others, those you may consider the most trustworthy, the nearest to you, to come and see me; that is, if you can and will. I am somewhat undecided as to the best course for me to pursue, and if your views are, upon a comparison, in unison with mine, and we can agree as to the best course, I would be pleased to have your cooperation. I would rather you would come previous to your conference in April at Amboy. I do not wish to attend the conference, but would like to know if they, as a body, would indorse my opinions. You will say nothing of this to any but those who you may wish to accompany you here.
With great regard, I subscribe myself,
Yours most respectfully,
William W. Blair and Joseph Smith III at the Amboy Conference
I was moved to this course, because Elder Marks was the President of the Stake at Nauvoo, and also of the High Council, at the time of my father’s death. He had retained his faith in Mormonism, as taught by Joseph and Hyrum, and his counsel would now be valuable. I announced my intention to my mother and my stepfather. The former approved my determination; the latter took a speculative view of it, and straightway built castles in the air, which he felt warranted in doing, from his point of observation.
At an early date after receiving my letter, Elders William Marks, Israel L. Rogers, and William W. Blair, all of them interested in the movement of reorganization, visited Nauvoo, and the conclusion of their interview with me was that my mother and myself should attend the next ensuing conference to be held at Amboy, Lee County, Illinois, when the matter was to be laid before the brethren, and a decision arrived at; for, said Elder Marks, "We have had enough of man-made prophets, and we don’t want any more of that sort. If God has called you, we want to know it. If he has, the church is ready to sustain you; if not, we want nothing to do with you."4
Journey to Amboy,
By Virginia Brown
Captain James Gifford and Alexander Smith rowed Joseph III and Emma across the Mississippi River during a fierce storm on their way to the Amboy Conference.
My mother and myself made the necessary preparation and started from Nauvoo to Amboy, on the 4th of April, 1860, in the face of one of the fiercest tempests that had blown that spring. My mother made the characteristic remark, that thus it had been all through her life; that whenever she set out to do anything for the gospel’s sake, the old boy seemed to be in the elements trying to prevent. We crossed the Mississippi, James Gifford and another resolute man in the small boat at the oars. The crossing was made in safety, and wet with spray, but strong in purpose we pursued our journey by boat and rail, arriving at Amboy on the 5th in time to attend the evening prayer meeting held at the house of Sr. Experience Stone, when for the first time I learned that it had been prophesied among them that I should come to the Amboy conference of 1860. Whether these sayings had been known to Brethren Marks, Rogers, and Blair at the time of their visit to me, I do not know; but if so, they had not so stated to me; though there was a general expectancy that I would be there. A strange thrill pervaded the air, and when Elder Z. H. Gurley, Sen., in one of his impulsive, impassioned exhortations, referred to the fulfillment of the "word of the Lord to them," by the fact of my being there, the whole people sobbed aloud in their joy and gratefulness. The story of the next day, April 6,1860, has been told, and my life since that day has been spent for and with the church, and what that life has been remains with the saints.
At my return to my home, after the sitting of the Amboy conference, the news of what I had done spread rapidly. My action was commented upon largely in the newspapers, nearly everywhere, and various speculations in regard to motive, object, and method of procedure were offered, among them the following:—
An attorney of Quincy, Illinois, by the name of Godfrey, whose specialty appeared to be the securing of obscure claims, presented to me the subject of reinstating the claims to Missouri lands forfeited and abandoned by the saints in their expulsion from that State. He had secured by vigorous research a list of names of those whose claims he believed could be made good, and offered to perfect the titles, being at all the expense and trouble, for a specific share of the lands, titles to which should be so perfected; my part of the business was to assist him to the names of others who might be entitled to lands there, secure their cooperation, powers of attorney, consent, etc. Besides this, there were some lands to which it was supposed Mother and her children might be entitled, to which we were to present our personal claims. The agreement was consummated between Mr. Godfrey and myself, and, in keeping with this agreement, Major Lewis C. Bidamon, my stepfather, started to Independence, Missouri, to look the matter up. Before starting, my mother, the Major, and myself, held a council, in which the idea of removing from Nauvoo, to some eligible spot to which a colony of saints might gather and build a town was discussed; and when the Major departed he was requested by me to look at various points in his line of travel, and report their eligibility at his return. He was not told, nor authorized to make any selection, and was not to make his business in this regard known. He went to Jackson County, but made no discoveries of value touching our claims to Missouri lands; but assuming extra powers, he proceeded to Weston, Missouri, Council Bluffs, Iowa, and to Florence, Nebraska, at the last-named places stating that he was looking for a place for the Josephite Mormons to settle. Men of wealth and enterprise interested in both these places presented the claims of their respective localities, and made him offers thought by them to be advantageous inducements for the Mormons to settle there. What statements he made to these men I never knew from them; but at his return, he stated to us that he had given them partial promises at Florence. He had exceeded his instructions and had apparently put the movement before the speculative world for bids to settle in their respective domains. To this, neither Mother nor myself could agree, and therefore did not entertain the propositions.
In the meantime events were transpiring in Nauvoo, and the county of Hancock, of a different character. Persons interested in the welfare of Nauvoo, and some who believed that the town was the gathering place for the saints, wished us to agree to remain. I therefore entered into an agreement with Mr. George Edmunds, Jr., not to remove from Nauvoo for five years, it being thought that that length of time would determine whether the place would attract the attention of the saints enough to rebuild it again; or still permit the clouds of decay to rest upon it. This agreement I kept, the circumstances and the work of the church not requiring my removal till January, 1866.
In antagonism to this idea of remaining at Nauvoo, to rebuild again this once waste place of Zion, some of the inhabitants of the county met at Carthage, the county seat, and in Basco and Montebello townships, and after the necessary inflammatory speeches about the dreadful consequences to accrue to the county if the Mormons were allowed to settle in it again, adopted resolutions opposing such settlement. The following proceedings were had at Carthage, the minutes of which were sent to me:—
Pursuant to call a meeting of the citizens of Carthage and vicinity assembled at the courthouse, on Thursday evening, August 21,1860. Jesse C. Williams was called to the chair, and Henry P. Harper and Jacob B. Strader were appointed secretaries. David Mack having explained the object of the meeting to the persons assembled, who densely filled the entire courtroom, and were of all political parties, Judge Couchman then offered the following resolutions, which were, upon motion, unanimously adopted; to-wit:—
Whereas, a report is in circulation that the Mormons have an idea of returning to Nauvoo, in Hancock County, Illinois, for the purpose of resettling at that place, which resettlement in the unanimous opinion of this community would be a great calamity to the future prospects of said county; therefore
Resolved, by this mass meeting assembled, without respect to political parties, that we earnestly protest against the return of the Mormons to Nauvoo; that they will not be allowed by the people of Hancock County to return and make such settlement.
Resolved, that the secretary of this meeting be directed to forward without delay a copy of the proceedings of this meeting to Joseph Smith, Jr., and also one copy for each of the newspapers in Hancock County, with request to publish the same.
JESSE C, WILLIAMS, President.
JACOB B. STRADER,
The minutes and resolutions of the meetings at Basco and Montebello were similar to those held at Carthage.5
The minutes and resolutions of the meeting at Montebello were not signed, but those of Carthage and Basco were.
About the same time a meeting of the citizens of Nauvoo was called, and presided over by the mayor, then Robert W. McKinney, Esquire; of which meeting John Bernard Risse, a rising young lawyer, was secretary. This meeting passed resolutions of a similar nature, with an additional one recommending Joseph Smith to go to other parts to preach, pray, and practice his religion. These minutes were presented to me by Mr. Risse, who was an old acquaintance and a then office mate, having his lawyer’s office in the same room and building occupied by me as a justice of the peace. Upon looking to see by whom they were signed, I discovered that there were no signatures; I then requested him as secretary to put the chairman’s name and his own to them. This he declined to do, and I refused to accept them without signatures. The other minutes came by mail, hence I had no choice but to receive them.
Simultaneously with these movements, as I was credibly informed at the time, two men prominently engaged in the crusade against the Mormons in 1845–46, prepared a letter notifying me to leave the country, or to remain at my peril. This letter they presented, so ran the story, to Judge Roosevelt, one of the most influential men of the county, living at Warsaw, asking him to sign it, that his influence might secure them the signatures of others to whom they designed to present it. His reply to them was, "No, gentlemen, I shall not sign it. And my advice to you is to put that letter away. If you send it to Mr. Smith you will get into trouble." It was stated that they also presented the letter to Thomas C. Sharp, who refused to sign it, stating that he had "lived through one Mormon war," and did not choose to get into another. Mr. Roosevelt sent word to me by a trustworthy messenger, that if a letter of the description stated was sent me, to present the men whose names were affixed to it, to the Grand Jury at its first sitting thereafter, and I would find a host of friends that I knew nothing about.
What influence these meetings and the published minutes of them, had upon the immigration of Mormons to the county, I need not state. The letter referred to was never sent me. Friends in different parts of the county were prompt and positive in their denunciation of such measures; while some radical anti-Mormons took equally strong ground against my propagating Mormonism in the county, one interior township passing a resolution that "no Mormon should be permitted to preach, or pray in the county." The minutes of this meeting did not reach me, possibly for the want of moral courage on the part of chairman and secretary to sign them. The Carthage Republican opened its columns to articles against the resettlement of Nauvoo by the Mormons; one writer, over a fictitious name, wrote a series of articles against me personally; but was betrayed to me to be the mayor of the city of Nauvoo, before named. I was warned frequently to be on my guard; to avoid traversing the county, and to be as quiet as possible. A Mr. John J. Middleton, a friend at that time, subsequently married to Mrs. Julia Dixon, formerly Murdock, my adopted sister, waited upon me in great anxiety, stating the inflamed condition of the public mind in the county, and almost imploring me to get away. To him I made the offer, if he dared to risk the venture, to go into the county, wherever necessary, and there publicly to state my views, believing that the grossest exaggeration prevailed; but as for leaving I would not unless compelled, and of that I was in doubt.
Under this condition of things the summer, fall, and winter of 1860 wore away. I was not disturbed. In the year following I continued to preach in the City and the country adjoining, Illinois and Iowa; went to and fro in the county of Hancock as business or caprice dictated, unarmed and alone, as well as in company. I met and conversed with numbers, citizens of the county of more or less prominence, and was assured that mob violence would hardly again be tolerated to any extent. Many of the citizens of Nauvoo and near vicinity expressed their opinion that the "driving out of the Mormons had left a curse upon the county that would not be removed until they should be permitted to return."
The temple, after the burning in 1848, had fallen, wall after wall, until but a small portion remained. The French, Prussian, and other German element into whose possession the ruins fell, sold them, and under the charge of one Sellers, a German of some local genius and enterprise, they became a quarry, whence stone for buildings, churches, stores, and wine cellars were digged; until there was not one stone left above another. The relics put into the corner stone were for a time in the office of the French community, but where they may now be the writer cannot say; as the community broke up soon after the commencement of the war, Monsieur Cabet, the founder, going to St. Louis, with one part, where he soon after died; and the remainder going with Monsieur Girard, to Icaria, Iowa. The Methodists, who had long worshiped [worshipped] in the old Music Hall, north and east of the temple lot, purchased a lot on Mulholland Street a little more than a quarter of a mile from the temple east, and built them a small chapel, using temple stones for corners, window ledges, and caps; but disaster attached to the stones and the society slowly faded away.
The temple was not finished. One stairway, on the south of the entry way, the basement assembly room, and a few rooms in the third story only were finished; and these it is said were not completed in the style agreed upon prior to my father’s death. David LeBarron, long had charge of it, and the writer has often been over it from basement to cupola with tourists of every shade of religious belief.
Alexander and David Smith
The first meeting room occupied by the saints of the Reorganized Church, in Nauvoo, was a small one in the rented premises of Benjamin Austin, who was among the first to move into the city from abroad. Here for nearly a year and a half we kept up our Sunday worship, afterwards in the premises once owned by Elder William Marks, corner of Water and Granger streets; then as our congregation grew by the moving in of brethren Thaddeus Cutler, Henry Cuerden, Thomas Revell, William Redfield, and others, together with local baptisms, until we had to find larger quarters. We then fitted up the large room in the Brick Store, built and occupied by my father as a store and office. In 1864 we numbered seventy five, and were exerting an excellent influence upon the neighborhood. Of my brothers, Alexander and David received the work, and soon engaged with me. Frederick died April 13, 1862, expressing contrition and belief, but without baptism. The others began to teach almost simultaneously with myself, and did excellent work.
There came no "Thus saith the Lord," upon which to make Nauvoo a rallying place. The site was not an advantageous one for poor people dependent upon daily labor or agriculture for subsistence. The few of the saints who came in there with their means, bought property cheap; but the same property cheapened still and still more upon their hands; their substance wasted, and out of necessity first one, then another left. The Olive branch, once flourishing, was plucked off. The Fall Conference of 1865 required me to remove to Plano, Kendall County, Illinois, to take active charge of the Herald, the church paper, first published in Cincinnati, Ohio, in January, 1860, by Elder Isaac Sheen, who removed to Plano, in 1863, with his family, to still continue as editor in the office purchased and established there by the church. I therefore made the necessary preparation, resigned my office of Justice of the Peace, and also School Director, each of which I had held for seven and a half years, having been reelected Justice in 1862 by a majority over my competitor of two to one, and in January, 1866, I removed with my wife and children, three in number, to Plano. I arrived January 3, and was within a week located in a house purchased for my use by the Bishop of the Church, Israel L. Rogers.—Life of Joseph the Prophet, pp. 772–783.
Reports from the elders in the field during the summer of 1860 were very encouraging, and the universal testimony was that the Spirit of God attended the preaching; while the gifts of the gospel were richly enjoyed by the reviving saints.
1 Brethren and Sisters:—It is the design of the church to publish this monthly, for at least six numbers, when, if called for and the condition of the church will justify it, a press will be bought and a weekly or semimonthly will be issued in its stead.
That a church paper is very much needed, it requires no argument to prove. We want it, that through it the great work of these latter days may be presented to the world of mankind in its true light; that the saints who are in transgression may be shown their sins, and likewise their duty to God; that those who are deceived by false teachers, and have “given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils,” may be redeemed from their errors and taught the “way of life everlasting.”
And again, that false claimants to the Presidency of the Church may be rebuked, and their iniquity disclosed, by showing forth the “order” of the priesthood—the promises of God to those who are “heirs according to the flesh,” and by presenting “the law of Christ,” by which all must be “sanctified” who abide a celestial glory. (See Book of Covenants 7: 5.)
And furthermore we want it as a medium through which the members can communicate their sentiments to each other, and through which (as well as to preach the word) the ministry can herald “life and immortality” to all flesh. And we believe if well sustained it will prove a mighty means in bringing about a unity of faith and works among all the scattered saints, and of calling the attention of the world at large to the notable fact that God is even now performing among the nations “a marvelous work,” “even a marvelous work and a wonder.” In short we hope, and are determined, by the grace of God, that it shall become to “both Jew and Greek” the herald of truth and righteousness.
Brethren and sisters, will you help sustain this periodical? Will you not, each and all of you who read this article, do what you can by way of subscription and donation to this undertaking, to advance the cause of Christ, in building up his righteous kingdom on earth? We believe you will, and shall therefore look for your names, accompanied with the “needful” at your very earliest convenience. If you have one, five, ten, or more dollars that you can give for the work of the Lord, send it along, and rest assured your liberality will not go unrewarded to our heavenly Father.
Zenos H. Gurley,
William W. Blair,
—True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, vol. 1, pp. 5, 6.
To the Editor of the Times and Seasons;
Sirs.—In a communication from a friend of mine, Elder William Martindale, who is now preaching in Wayne County, Indiana, I received an account of the following singular phenomenon. As Washington was my former place of residence, and as I am acquainted with the place where this singular phenomenon made its appearance, and also with the people whose names are mentioned as witnesses to the fact, believing them to be men of probity and having confidence in their statement, it was somewhat interesting to me. Thinking that the readers of your widely circulated journal might feel the same interest in it, as one of the signs that should take place in these last days, I have thought proper to forward it to you, leaving you to insert it or not at your discretion.
The following is the account given:—
WASHINGTON, Wayne County, Indiana, December 22, 1843.
Mr. John Hatfield.
Sir:— But I must hasten to give you an account of a singular phenomenon which was seen in this neighborhood on the night of the 19th inst. It was reported that a panther had been seen at the Logan deadening (you know the place) and on the evening of the 19th, Jesse Fox William and Lorenzo Fox, David Bale, James Wilson, and William Cole, with some others, repaired to the place to see if they could discover and kill the monster; but failing in this they retired to the house of Solomon Mendenhall, at which place they stayed a short time. While there they discovered a ball rising from the east in an oblique line, and as it ascended it moved towards the west with great rapidity until it was high in the heavens, leaving a streak of light behind it, which to the natural eye had the appearance of being thirty or forty feet in length. This light remained stationary for about one minute; both ends then coming round formed a figure of 8, which figure also retained its position for the same space of time; it then was transformed into a figure of 6, which also remained for about a minute; it was then formed into a cipher or 0; which remained for about three minutes. The figures put together made 1860 in large figures, in the heavens. The phenomenon was indeed singular and has been a matter of great speculation with us.
Respectfully yours, etc.
—Times and Seasons, vol. 5, pp. 413, 414.
3 Elder W. W. Blair, in his journal, under date of April 6, 1860, states: “Conference convened at Amboy in the Mechanics Hall. In the afternoon Joseph Smith claimed his right to the Presidency of the church stating in his address, which was delivered most of the time in tears that he had come to the conference by a higher power than that of man. He was ordained under the hands of Z. H. Gurley, [Sen.,] Samuel Powers, William W. Blair, apostles, and William Marks, high priest.” [Back to Article]
4 Elder W. W. Blair, in his journal, writes of this interview as follows: “Monday, l9th March, 1860. This evening Bro. I. L. Rogers called upon me to go with Bro. William Marks and himself to Nauvoo in answer to a request from Joseph Smith, Jr., who wrote to Bro. Marks that he had determined to soon take his father’s place in the priesthood, and desired an interview with himself (Marks) and such others as Bro. Marks might select. We proceeded on Monday night to Burlington, and on Tuesday by four p. m., reached Nauvoo by steamboat Aunt Letty. Joseph and Emma received us very kindly. We expressed our views with regard to the work. On comparison there appeared to be little or no difference of sentiment. We staid [stayed] with them till Wednesday, at ten a. m. Before leaving Joseph told us he should attend the conference at Amboy, and Emma would endeavor to also. After we by request of Joseph had prayers, we took leave of the family and crossed the river to Montrose.” [Back to Article]
On motion by Col. E S Freeman, Russle Fuller was called to the Chair, and Thomas Logan was elected secretary. The object of the meeting being stated, on motion it is ordered that the chair appoint a commitee [committee] of five, to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiments of this meeting.
Whereupon Emmet Doty, Charles, H. Steffey, Mathew Anderson Esq. S1ocum Wooley and Thomas Logan were appointed said commitee [committee]. The commitee [committee] on resolution, submitted the following report.
Whereas a report is in circulation to the effect that the Mormons are about, or intended to resettle at Nauvoo in Hancock county, Illinois and it being the unanimous opinion of the Citizens of Bear Creek township that such settlement would be a retrograde movement in the morals as well as a political curse to the inhabitant of said county.
Therefore. Resolved by this mass meeting assembled without any regard to political distinctions, that we are most emphatically opposed to such a movement and that we will not submit to such settlement among us.
Resolved that we will resist by force of arms their return to this county and that summary vengence [vengeance] on all Jack’s that are cought [caught] in this county.
Resolved that we are in favor of calling a mass meeting, to met [meet] in Carthage at an early day to take the matter under full consideration and also to appoint such commitees [committee’s] as may be demed [deemed] necessary to effectually proclude [preclude] the possibility of such return among us.
Resolved that the secretary of this meeting by [be] requested to forward a copy of these resolutions to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo and also to furnish copies to all the papers published in this county with a request to publish the same.
RUSSLE FULLER President.
THOS. LOGAN Secty.
Copy of preamble and resolutions adopted by a meeting of the citizens of Montebello Township. August 22d 1860 and in accordance with one of the said resolutions we send a copy thereof to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo.
Whereas we are informed by reliable information that Mormons under the Leadership of Joseph Smith the second. are about making a perminant [permanent] settlement in Nauvoo contrary to an understanding with them by the people of Hancock County, and whereas, such settlement endangers the peace and prosperity of said county and vicinity by turning aside a heallty [healthy] emigration, and reviving animosilies [animosities] long since healed. Therefore. Resolved,
- That we earnestly protest against the resettlement of the Mormons in Nauvoo under the charge of Joseph Smith or any other person as being calculated to dis1roy [destroy] the peace and domestic security and retard the development and commercial prosperity of Hancock County and vicinity.
- Resolved, That all Mormons are hereby requested to take notice, that we cannot under any circumstances permit them to relocate in Hancock County and that if they persist in so doing against the earnest protest of the people of this county. peacably ]peaceably] expressed by public resolves, We recommend that such Steps may be taken as an indignant people may find necessary, to expell [expel] them from our borders, and that to accomplish this we ever keep in view the watchword—peaceably if we can forcibly if we must.
- Resolved That we consider that the efforts of certain persons not Mormons to re eslablish [re-establish] Mormonism in this county should secure the condemnation of every good citizen, and that such persons, who would barter the peace and security of the people for ther [their] own selfish purposes, should receive only toleration extended to Mormons themselves.
- Resolved That a committe [committee] of thre [three] be appointed to act in concert with other township committees, to further the object of the above resolutions
- Resolved That the Editors of all the papers of the County be requested to publish the proceedings of this meeting and that a copy of the resolutions be forwarded to Joseph Smith at Nauvoo.
[The foregoing letters are published verbatim as received.] [Back to Article]