History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, Chapter 41

Chapter 41

Joseph, Emma, and family move thirty miles south to  John  Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio. Joseph and Sidney Rigdon are mobbed, beaten, tarred, and feathered. Little Joseph M. Smith dies five days later. Joseph the Prophet goes to Missouri. An account of a stagecoach accident, poisoning, and safe return to Kirtland. Report of terrible mob action in Missouri. Joseph gathers an army to redeem Zion.

September 12, 1831 to May 5, 1834

Mormon FamilyI shall now return to the month of September, 1831. Joseph, at this time, was engaged in translating the Bible, and Sidney Rigdon was writing for him. About the first of this month, Joseph came to the conclusion to remove himself and clerk, as well as their families, to Hiram, in order to expedite the work. They moved to the house of Father  John  Johnson  and lived with him in peace until the following March, when a circumstance occurred which I shall relate in his own words:

“On the twenty-fourth of March [1832], the twins before mentioned, which had been sick of the measles for some time, caused us to be broken of our rest in taking care of them, especially my wife. In the evening I told her she had better retire to rest with one of the children, and I would watch with the sicker child. In the night she told me I had better lie down on the trundle bed, and I did so, and was soon after awakened by her screaming murder! when I found myself going out of the door in the hands of about a dozen men; some of whose hands were in my hair, and some had hold of my shirt, drawers, and limbs. The foot of the trundle bed was towards the door, leaving only room enough for the door to swing.

“My wife heard a gentle tapping on the windows, which she then took no particular notice of (but which was unquestionably designed for ascertaining whether we were all asleep), and, soon after, the mob burst open the door and surrounded the bed in an instant, and, as I said, the first I knew I was going out of the door in the hands of an infuriated mob. I made a desperate struggle, as I was forced out, to extricate myself, but only cleared one leg with which I made a pass at one man and he fell on the door steps. I was immediately confined again, and they swore by G–, they would kill me if I did not be still, which quieted me. As they passed around the house with me, the fellow that I kicked came to me and thrust his hand into my face all covered with blood (for I hit him on the nose), and with an exultant horse laugh, muttered, ‘Gee, gee, G– d– ye, I’ll fix ye.’

“They then seized me by the throat and held on till I lost my breath. After I came to, as they passed along with me, about thirty rods from the house, I saw Elder Rigdon stretched out on the ground, whither they had dragged him by the heels. I supposed he was dead.

“I began to plead with them, saying, ‘you will have mercy and spare my life, I hope.’ To which they replied, ‘G– d– ye, call on yer God for help, we’ll show ye no mercy’; and the people began to show themselves in every direction; one coming from the orchard had a plank and I expected they would kill me and carry me off on a plank. They then turned to the right and went on about thirty rods farther-about sixty rods from the house and about thirty from where I saw Elder Rigdon-into the meadow, where they stopped, and one said, ‘Simonds, Simonds,’ (meaning, I supposed, Simonds Rider), ‘pull up his drawers, pull up his drawers, he will take cold.’

“Another replied, ‘Ain’t ye going to kill ‘im? Ain’t ye going to kill ‘im?’ when a group of mobbers collected a little way off and said, ‘Simonds, Simonds, come here’; and Simonds charged those who had hold of me to keep me from touching the ground (as they had done all the time), lest I should get a spring upon them. They went and held a council, and as I could occasionally overhear a word, I supposed it was to know whether it was best to kill me.

“They returned, after a while, when I learned that they had concluded not to kill me, but pound and scratch me well, tear off my shirt and drawers, and leave me naked. One cried, ‘Simonds, Simonds, where is the tar bucket?’

“‘I don’t know,’ answered one, ‘where ’tis, Eli’s left it.’ They ran back and fetched the bucket of tar, when one exclaimed, with an oath, ‘Let us tar up his mouth’; and they tried to force the tar paddle into my mouth; I twisted my head around so that they could not, and they cried out, ‘G– d– ye, hold up yer head and let us giv ye some tar.’ They then tried to force a vial into my mouth and broke it in my teeth. All my clothes were torn off me, except my shirt collar; and one man fell on me and scratched my body with his nails like a mad cat, and then muttered out, ‘G– d– ye, that’s the way the Holy Ghost falls on folks.’

“They then left me, and I attempted to rise, but fell again; I pulled the tar away from my lips, etc., so that I could breathe more freely, and after a while I began to recover and raised myself up, when I saw two lights. I made my way towards one of them and found it was Father Johnson’s. When I had come to the door I was naked, and the tar made me look as though I was covered with blood; and when my wife saw me, she thought I was all mashed to pieces and fainted. During the affray abroad, the sisters of the neighborhood had collected at my room. I called for a blanket, they threw me one and shut the door; I wrapped it around me, and went in.

“In the meantime, Brother  John  Poorman heard an outcry across the cornfield, and running that way met Father Johnson, who had been fastened in his house at the commencement of the assault, by having his door barred by the mob, but on calling to his wife to bring his gun, saying he would blow a hole through the door, the mob fled, and Father Johnson, seizing a club, ran after the party that had Elder Rigdon, and knocked one man, and raised his club to level another, exclaiming: “What are you doing here?” when they left Elder Rigdon and turned upon Father Johnson, who, turning to run towards his own house, met Brother Poorman coming out of the cornfield; each supposing the other to be a mobber, an encounter ensued, and Poorman gave Johnson a severe blow on the left shoulder with a stick or stone, which brought him to the ground. Poorman ran immediately towards Father Johnson’s, and arriving while I was waiting for the blanket, exclaimed: ‘I’m afraid I’ve killed him.’ ‘Killed who?’ asked one; when Poorman hastily related the circumstances of the encounter near the cornfield, and went into the shed and hid himself. Father Johnson soon recovered so as to come to the house, when the whole mystery was quickly solved concerning the difficulty between him and Poorman, who, on learning the facts, joyfully came from his hiding place.

“My friends spent the night in scraping and removing the tar, and washing and cleansing my body, so that by morning I was ready to be clothed again. This being Sabbath morning, the people assembled for meeting at the usual hour of worship, and among them came also the mobbers, viz., Simonds Rider, a Campbellite preacher and leader of the mob; one McClentic, who had his hands in my hair; one Streeter, son of a Campbellite minister; and Felatiah Allen, Esq., who gave the mob a barrel of whisky to raise their spirits; and many others. With my flesh all scarified and defaced, I preached to the congregation as usual, and in the afternoon of the same day baptized three individuals.

“The next morning I went to see Elder Rigdon and found him crazy, and his head highly inflamed, for they had dragged him by his heels, and those, too, so high from the ground that he could not raise his head from the rough, frozen surface, which lacerated it exceedingly; and when he saw me he called to his wife to bring him his razor. She asked him what he wanted of it; and he replied, to kill me. Sister Rigdon left the room, and he asked me to bring his razor. I asked him what he wanted of it, and he replied he wanted to kill his wife; and he continued delirious some days. The feathers which were used with the tar on this occasion, the mob took out of Elder Rigdon’s house. After they had seized him, and dragged him out, one of the banditti returned to get some pillows; when the women shut him in and kept him a prisoner some time.

“During the mobbing, one of the twins contracted a severe cold, and continued to grow worse till Friday and died. The mobbers were composed of various religious parties, but mostly Campbellites, Methodists and Baptists, who continued to molest and menace Father Johnson’s house for a long time.”

Sidney Rigdon went immediately to Kirtland, but Joseph remained at Father Johnson’s to finish his preparations for a journey which he contemplated making to Missouri. Immediately after Sidney’s arrival at Kirtland, we met for the purpose of holding a prayer meeting, and, as Sidney had not been with us for some time, the brethren were very anxious to hear a sermon from him. After we waited some time for him, he came in appearing much agitated. He did not go to the stand, but began to pace back and forth through an aisle that was left between the seats. My husband said, “Brother Sidney, we would like to hear a discourse from you today.”

Brother Rigdon replied, in a tone of excitement, “The keys of the kingdom are rent from the Church, and there shall not be a prayer put up in this house this day.”

“Oh! no,” said my husband, “I hope not.”

“They are,” said Sidney. “I tell you the keys are rent from this people and no man or woman shall put up a prayer here this day.”

This produced a great excitement in the minds of many of the sisters and some brethren. The brethren stared and turned pale, and the sisters cried, and for a few minutes we were at a stand as to what course to take. Sister Howe, in particular, was much terrified. “Oh dear me!” said she, “what shall we do? what shall we do? The keys of the kingdom are taken from us, and what shall we do?”

“I tell you again,” said Sidney, with much feeling, “the keys of the kingdom are taken from you, and you never will have them again until you build me a new house.”

Hyrum was vexed at this frivolous maneuvering, and, taking his hat, he went out of the house, saying, “I’ll put a stop to this fuss, pretty quick; I’m going for Joseph.”

“Oh, don’t,” said Sister Howe, “for pity’s sake, don’t go for him. Brother Sidney says the keys of the kingdom are taken from us, and where is the use of bringing Joseph here?”

Hyrum paid no attention to her but went for a horse and set out that evening, which was Saturday, to Father Johnson’s for Joseph. He arrived there in the afterpart of the night. Joseph was in bed. “Come,” said Hyrum. “Joseph, get up. You must go back with me to Kirtland and attend to things there. We are in great trouble. Sidney is telling the people that we have lost the keys of the kingdom, and they are having a terrible time.”

Joseph did not know what he meant, but when Hyrum told him what a freak had got into Sidney’s head, Joseph said that he would start as soon as he could get his breakfast. Father Johnson offered him a horse, for he was a kind old man and would do anything in his power for Joseph or any of our family.

They were soon on their journey and arrived in Kirtland just after the afternoon meeting began. Joseph got up and told the brethren to be eased of all their fears, for they were under a great mistake, and that they were under no transgression. He said, “I myself hold the keys of this last dispensation, and I forever will hold them in time and in eternity. So set your hearts at rest, for all is well.”

After Joseph preached a comforting discourse, he appointed a council to sit the next day, by which Brother Sidney was tried for having lied in the name of the Lord. Joseph told him that he must suffer for what he had done, and Joseph said, “You shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan, and the devil will handle you as one man handleth another, and the less priesthood you have the better it will be for you. Therefore, I advise you to give up your license.”

Sidney did as he was counseled, yet he had to suffer for his folly, for he afterwards stated that he had the most astonishing encounters with the devil on the following night that ever a man had. He said that he was dragged out of bed three times successively on the same night. Whether this be true or not, one thing is certain, his contrition of soul was apparently as great as a man could well live through.

After he had sufficiently humbled himself, he received another license; but the old one was retained and is now in the hands of Bishop Whitney.

On the second of April, 1832, Joseph set off for Missouri, accompanied by Newel K. Whitney,  Peter  Whitmer, and Jesse Gause. They were taken by brother Pitkin to the town of Warren, where they were joined by Brother Rigdon, and they all pursued their journey together.

While Joseph was gone, Emma, by her husband’s request, was moved to Kirtland. Bishop Whitney wanted her to live at his house and tarry with his wife, until he and Joseph should return home. But when Emma came to Sister Whitney’s house and made known Bishop Whitney’s request, an elderly maiden aunt named Sarah Smith, who lived there, was highly offended and declared that if Emma stayed, she would go away. Upon this, Sister Whitney invited Emma to leave. This, however, I was never aware of until lately, and although she lived with us and very near us, she said nothing of the mortifying circumstance lest it should injure feelings. She was then young, and being naturally ambitious, her whole heart was occupied in the work of the Lord, and she felt no interest except for the Church and the cause of truth. Whatever her hands found to do, she did with her might, and she did not ask the selfish question, “Shall I be benefitted any more than anyone else?”

If elders were sent away to preach, she was the first to volunteer her services to assist in clothing them for their journey. Whatever her own privations, she scorned to complain. While Joseph was gone, she lived with Brother Reynolds Cahoon and Brother Williams, occasionally spending a short time with us. She labored faithfully for the interest of those with whom she stayed, cheering them by her lively and spirited conversation.

On the twenty-fourth of April, Joseph arrived at Independence. He made haste to attend to the business that lay before him, and wrote this about his return journey:

“On the 6th of May I gave the parting hand to the brethren in Independence, and in company with Brothers Rigdon and Whitney, commenced a return to Kirtland, by stage to St. Louis, from thence to Vincennes, Indiana; and from thence to New Albany, near the falls of the Ohio River. Before we arrived at the latter place, the horses became frightened, and while going at full speed, Bishop Whitney attempted to jump out of the coach, but having his coat fast, caught his foot in the wheel and had his leg and foot broken in several places; at the same time I jumped out unhurt, and we put up at Mr. Porter’s public house in Greenville for four weeks, while Elder Rigdon went directly forward to Kirtland.

“During all this time, Brother Whitney lost not a meal of victuals or a night’s sleep, and Doctor Porter, our landlord’s brother, who attended him, said it was ‘a d– pity we had not got some  Mormon there, they can set broken bones or do anything else.’

“I tarried with Brother Whitney and administered to him till he was able to be moved. While at this place I frequently walked out in the woods, where I saw several fresh graves; and one day when I rose from the dinner table, I walked directly to the door and commenced vomiting most profusely. I raised large quantities of blood and poisonous matter, and so great were the muscular contortions of my system, that my jaw was dislocated in a few moments. This I succeeded in replacing with my own hands, and made my way to Brother Whitney (who was on the bed) as speedily as possible. He laid his hands on me and administered in the name of the Lord, and I was healed in an instant, although the effect of the poison had been so powerful as to cause much of the hair to become loosened from my head. Thanks be to my Heavenly Father for his interference in my behalf at this critical moment, in the name of Jesus Christ; Amen.

“Brother Whitney had not had his foot moved from the bed for near four weeks, when I went into his room, after a walk in the grove, and told him if he would agree to start for home in the morning, we would take a wagon to the river, about four miles, and there would be a ferry boat in waiting which would take us quickly across, where we would find a hack which would take us directly to the landing, where we should find a boat in waiting, and we will be going up the river before ten o’clock and have a prosperous journey home. He took courage and told me he would go.

“We started next morning and found everything as I had told him, for we were passing rapidly up the river before ten o’clock and, landing at Wellsville, took stagecoach to Chardon, from thence in a wagon to Kirtland, where we arrived sometime in June.”

After Joseph returned, a comfortable home was provided for Emma and her adopted daughter, in a house that belonged to Brothers Whitney and Gilbert, being previously occupied for a store. Soon after Emma moved into this house, Joseph went on a mission to the East, leaving her in the care of Hyrum, who watched over her with the most faithful care and attention. Shortly after Joseph left, Joseph Smith the third was born.

After Joseph returned from his mission to the East, he established a school for the elders, and called them all home from the different parts of the country where they had been laboring. This was called the School of the Prophets (which is spoken of in the Book of Covenants ) and was held in an upper room of the house that Joseph occupied.

When my sons returned from their missions and had rested themselves, Joseph took all the male portion of the family into the room where the School of the Prophets was kept and, girding himself, administered to them the ordinance of washing of feet according to the directions of the Savior, who said, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” When the ceremony was over, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon them and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied as on the day of Pentecost. The brethren gathered together to witness the manifestation of the power of God.

At that time, I was on the farm a short distance from the place where the meeting was held, but those of my children who could not bear that Mother should miss anything dispatched a messenger in great haste for me. I was putting some loaves of bread into the oven, but the brother who ran for me would not wait till I had set my bread to baking. I went and shared with the rest one of the most glorious outpourings of the Spirit of God that had ever been witnessed in the Church at that time. This produced great joy and satisfaction among the brethren and sisters, and we felt as though we had about gained the victory over the adversary. Truly, it was as the poet says:

We could not believe

That we ever should grieve,

Or ever should sorrow again.

But alas! How our joy was measurably turned to grief, for it was not two months before a messenger arrived from Missouri just as my sons were all at work preparing a piece of ground for sowing wheat the ensuing fall. Joseph was standing on the porch near the door washing his face and hands when the dispatch arrived who stated that the brethren were driven, and Brothers Partridge and Allen had been tarred and feathered and put into prison; that some were killed, and Brother Dibble, among others, had been shot.

When Joseph heard this, he was overwhelmed with grief. He burst into tears and sobbed aloud, “Oh, my brethren, my brethren. Oh, that I had been with you to have shared with you your trouble. My God, my God, what shall we do in such a case of trial?”

After his first burst of grief was over, Joseph called a council, and it was resolved that the brethren should be called from the surrounding country to Kirtland, and when sufficient time was had to prepare those in Kirtland, and whoever should be called from abroad, that they would set off for Missouri for the purpose of forming a treaty with the mob and also to take clothing and money to relieve them in their distress.

Just before this, Jesse Smith, my husband’s nephew, and  Amos  Fuller arrived in Kirtland from Potsdam, and Jesse determined to go with the camp to Missouri. He was the son of Jesse Smith, my husband’s oldest brother, of whose peculiar disposition I have spoken before. Knowing that his father would censure us, I endeavored to dissuade him from going; but to no purpose, for he was determined upon being one of the company.

As soon as they could make the necessary collections and preparations, they started for Missouri with nearly two hundred in their number, thoroughly equipped.

Go to chapter 42.

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