Early Scenes in Church History online

. (page 8 of 8)
Online LibraryVariousEarly Scenes in Church History → online text (page 8 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

organized by W. W. Phelps, Geo. M. Hinkle, Lyman Wight and Reed Peck,
they having received their commissions from the governor. An election
of officers was called and G. W. Robinson was elected colonel, I
lieutenant colonel and Seymour Brunson major.

While celebrating the 4th of July at Far West, there came up a thunder
shower, and the lightning struck our liberty pole and shivered it to
pieces. Joseph walked around on the splinters and said: "As that pole
was splintered, so shall the nations of the earth be!"

When the trouble with the mob commenced, Colonel Robinson took about
one-half of the force to Adam-ondi-Ahman to defend that place. Joseph,
Hyrum and Sidney also went with them, leaving me in command at Far
West. The detachment returned in about four days.

A few days afterwards Joseph Smith and I took a walk out upon the
prairie, and in the course of our conversation I suggested to him
to send for General Atchison to defend him in the suit then brought
against him, as he was in command of the third division of the militia
of the State of Missouri, and was a lawyer and a friend to law. Joseph
made no reply, but turned back immediately to Far West, and a man was
selected, with the best horse to be found, to go to Liberty for General

The next day General Atchison came to Far West with a hundred men and
camped a little north of the town.

On consulting with Joseph Smith, Atchison told him that he did not want
any one to go with them to his trial, which was to take place midway
between Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman. Joseph at first hesitated about
agreeing to this, but Atchison reassured him by saying: "My life for

When they arrived at the place of trial quite a number of the mob had
gathered, and on seeing Joseph commenced to curse and swear. Atchison,
however, checked them by saying: "Hold on boys, if you fire the first
gun there will not be one of you left!"

Joseph was cleared and came away unmolested. Soon afterwards the
governor, thinking Atchison was too friendly towards the Saints, took
his command from him and placed General Clark in command of the militia.

Shortly before Far West was besieged, I was taken sick, and Colonel
Hinkle came into military command under his old commission. I gave up
my horse, saddle and bridle, and also my rifle and sword for Brother
Lysander Gee to use in defense of our city.

When General Clark's army came up against Far West, Colonel Hinkle
betrayed the First Presidency of the Church into their hands for seven
hundred and fifty dollars. Then Joseph and Hyrum, Sidney, and Lyman
Wight were taken by the mob, who held a court-martial over them and
sentenced them to be shot the next morning at eight o'clock on the
public square. Lyman Wight told them to "shoot and be damned." Generals
Atchison and Doniphan immediately rebelled against the decision, and
Doniphan said, if men were to be murdered in cold blood, he would
withdraw his troops, which he did. General Atchison then went to
Liberty and gave a public dinner, and delivered a speech, in which he
said, "If the governor does not restore my commission to me, I will
kill him, so help me God!" On hearing this the audience became so
enthusiastic that they took him upon their shoulders and carried him
around the public square.

After the surrender of Far West, the mob sent officers to get me, but
finding that I was sick they went back and so reported. They came the
second time and went back and reported the same. The third time they
came they swore they would have me if they had to take me on a bed.
I lived one-and-a-half miles west of the town, and told my folks if
they could dress me and help me on my horse I would undertake to leave
for Quincy. A young man named Joel Miles was to go with me to help me
off and on my horse. Leaving Far West on my left, I arrived at Quincy

I will here digress from my narrative, and state that while I was
at Far West the battle of Crooked river occurred, in which David W.
Patten was killed, also the massacre at Haun's Mill. Brother Joseph
had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who
were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not
deliver the message. I should also have mentioned that while at Far
West an election was held to elect an assessor. Isaac Higbee, myself
and a Missourian were the candidates. The brethren held a caucus
meeting and advised one of us to withdraw our name lest the Missourian
might gain the election, and proposed that Higbee and I cast lots for
it. Two tickets were put into a hat for us to draw from. There was a
large crowd gathered around and Joseph Smith among them. He said, "I am
going to prophesy that Philo will get it." Sure enough I drew it.

On my arrival in Quincy, knowing that our people would soon be flocking
there in great numbers to cross the river, I rented the ferry at nine
dollars per day for thirty days. I ran the boat about ten days and
ferried the Saints across on their own terms, and still made money
at it. Some of the brethren, however, on arriving, assumed the right
to dictate me, and wanted that I should give up the ferry into their
hands. The man who owned it said if I would give it up he would release
me from paying that day's rent, which I agreed to do, supposing it
would go into the hands of the brethren. But when I gave up the papers
to him, he informed the brethren that they must pay him full fare or
else make boats and ferry themselves at half price. This caused a great
deal of extra and unnecessary expense to our people.

Before I left Far West, I made arrangements with a man to bring my
family through to Quincy, for which I paid him sixty dollars in gold on
their arrival.

In the spring of 1839, Sidney Rigdon came to me and said he knew of a
man who owned a farm three miles east of Quincy and wanted to rent it
to some good man whom he could recommend, and that I could have the
chance. I gladly accepted the offer and rented the farm of two hundred



I took four other brethren - Simeon Crandall and three of his sons, to
help me carry on the farm, and we raised a heavy crop, which took us
all the fall and winter to market.

While living upon this farm, I was taken sick. Dr. Williams attended
me, and after awhile said he could do no more for me. I then called for
the Elders to administer to me and Brother A. J. Stewart, his brother,
Levi, and Brother Killian were called in, but before they arrived Mr.
Robbins, of whom I rented the farm, called to see me. He declared that
I might possibly live till three o'clock, but could not live till

When the Elders administered to me, Brother Killian being mouth, I was
in bed. He poured the oil on my forehead and I jumped right out of bed
and put on my clothes. On hearing that Robbins was going to Quincy in
the morning, I walked up to his house, three-quarters of a mile, and
went with him in his carriage to Quincy, remained all day and returned
with him at night.

Some of my gentile neighbors, wishing to learn about "Mormonism," sent
to Quincy for Brother John P. Greene to come out and preach to them.
When he came, he called at my house and wanted to know of me what
subject he had better treat upon. I told him were I in his place I
should speak on the resurrection of the dead, which he did. There was
a large congregation of members of various denominations present. They
were so well pleased with Brother Greene's remarks, that they would
not let him off until he left another appointment to preach. Before
the appointed time arrived, however, Brother Greene was taken sick
and could not come. A large congregation had gathered at the place
appointed, and only three Elders present - A. J. Stewart, his brother
Levi, and myself.

Seeing the situation of things, we consulted together as to what should
be done, when Brother A. J. Stewart said he would undertake to fill
Brother Greene's appointment, but that if he got baulked we must help
him out. I remarked I could not preach, if I did it would only be like
a sectarian telling his experience, but said, "I will do the singing,"
which I did.

Brother Stewart arose, opened the Bible and tried to read, but had to
spell his words, and broke down and said that some of the brethren
would take up the subject and go on with it. He then called on me. I
arose to speak. The Holy Ghost came down and enveloped me, and I spoke
for over two hours. When I found the Spirit leaving me I thought it
time to close, and told my hearers it was the first time I had spoken
to a public congregation.

A Brother Mills who was present, felt so well that he went home with me
and declared that I had delivered the greatest discourse he had ever
heard. Said I: "Brother Mills, I don't know what I have said. It was
not me; it was the Lord!"

In the spring of 1840, I removed to Nauvoo, then called Commerce, which
had been appointed by Joseph for the gathering place. During the next
year my wife died, and left me with five children, two daughters and
three sons. I concluded to get my children homes and then travel and
preach the gospel; but when I had obtained homes for them I found I had
not only lost my wife, but also my children, and they had not only lost
their mother, but also their father and each other's society.

On the 11th of February, 1841, I married a second wife - a Widow Smith
of Philadelphia, who was living in the family of the Prophet. He
performed the ceremony at his house, and Sister Emma Smith insisted
upon getting up a wedding supper for us. It was a splendid affair, and
quite a large party of our friends were assembled.

I then rented a house of Hyrum Kimball on the river bank for ten
dollars per month, and kept a warehouse, and also boarders and a
bakery. While there in business, I saw in vision my grave before me
for two weeks; it mattered not whether my eyes were open or shut it
was there, and I saw no way of escape. One day Brother Joseph came and
took dinner with us, and as we arose from the table I walked out upon
the porch and sat down on a bench. Joseph and my wife followed me, and
he came before me and said: "Philo, you must get away from here or you
will die, as sure as God ever spoke by my mouth!" He then turned to my
wife and said: "And you will hardly escape by the skin of your teeth!"

I immediately stepped into Joseph's carriage and rode with him to the
south part of town and rented another place, after which I settled up
my business as fast as I could, and made arrangements to remove. Many
hearing of Joseph's prediction about me, said if they had been in my
place they would have remained where I was and tested the truth of it,
but I assured them if they had been in my place they would have done
just as I did.

After I had settled my business and removed my family, we were one day
at Joseph's house, when he said to my wife: "You didn't believe what
I told Philo the other day! Now, I will tell you what the Lord told
me; He told me to go and tell Philo to come away from there, and if he
obeyed he should live; if not he should die; and I didn't want to see
you a widow so soon again. If Philo had remained there fourteen days
longer, he would have been a corpse."

One night Joseph came to my house about twelve o'clock, and called me
up. I immediately went out to see what was wanted. We went across the
street to James Allred's and called him up, and we three went back
to Joseph's house. On the way he told us that a flat boat with about
thirty men had landed just below his house, and that he had overheard
some of their conversation. They had made arrangements to kidnap him
that night and sink him in the river. Brother Allred and I went down
to the river; but they must have seen Joseph's movements as we found
nothing of them, although we got up some more of the brethren and
searched up and down the river.

When Joseph and Emma were preparing to go up the river to Dixon, to
make a visit with some of her connections, I was at their house. The
night before they started, I had a dream, in which I saw Joseph taken
prisoner and guarded by two men, who after awhile left Joseph in Nauvoo
and went off cursing and swearing. The next morning I related my dream
to Joseph; he listened to me but made no reply.

While visiting at Dixon he was taken prisoner by a sheriff of Missouri
and an officer of Illinois, but instead of getting him over into
Missouri as they had planned to, he was brought to Nauvoo. There they
left Joseph and went off cursing and swearing, just as I had heard them
in my dream.

When, on the advice of the Prophet, I quit my situation on the river,
my wife felt so bad at the loss of my business prospects that she said
we might as well die by the sword as by famine. I asked her if she
thought it would be worse for us temporally to obey the word of the
Lord. I prophesied that before the year would pass away it would be
better for us than if we had remained there.

Wm. Pratt had three city lots upon which he was owing a debt of one
hundred dollars, and said if I would raise the money I might have my
choice of the three. I raised the money all but three dollars, but was
at a loss to know how to get the balance. It was a hard time to borrow
money. On my way to Brother Pratt's, I picked up three dollars in the
street, Brother Stephen Goddard being with me at the time.

I then took the three dollar bill which I found to Bishop Whitney's and
requested him to take the number of it, and if an owner came for it to
say that I would refund it to him, but that I wanted the use of it a
few days. I soon sold the lot for four hundred dollars, and then asked
my wife if my prophecy was not fulfilled.

One of my neighbors, a Brother James Moses, who lived across the street
from me, was taken sick, and for six weeks was not able to speak above
his breath. I went occasionally to see him, and one day while there
Brother Bills and I were asked by Sister Moses to administer to him,
which we did. She then asked us what we thought of him, and I replied
that I had no testimony that he would live or that he would die; but
she might as well pour water upon fire to make it burn as to give him
medicine. This offended her, as she had a doctor by the name of Green
attending him, and we left.

Soon after this Brother Kimball (one of the Apostles) was called on to
administer to him, when Sister Moses asked him what he thought of her
husband's condition. He replied in the very words that I had used, but
advised them to hold on to him. Brother Bills and I happening to call
in again to see him, we were asked if we would anoint him. I consented
and stepped up to the bed to put some oil on his forehead, but felt
impressed to stop and say that he was possessed of evil spirits, and
that they would kill him if they were not cast out before morning. He
then commenced raving, and might have been heard across the street.

The Twelve Apostles were sent for and three of them came, Brother W.
Richards being one of them, who was mouth in prayer, as we all knelt in
the room. After prayer, Brother Richards went to the bed, and, in the
name of Jesus Christ, commanded the evil spirits to leave him and leave
the house, which they did instantly, and Brother Moses became rational.
He afterwards told us all about his feelings while the evil spirits
had afflicted him, and that he was as sore as a boil all over from the
effects of what he had passed through.

When Joseph first came to Nauvoo, then called Commerce, a Mr. White,
living there, proffered to sell him his farm for twenty-five hundred
dollars, five hundred dollars of the amount to be paid down, and the
balance one year from that time. Joseph and the brethren were talking
about this offer when some of them said: "We can't buy it, for we lack
the money." Joseph took out his purse, and, emptying out its contents,
offered a half dollar to one of the brethren, which he declined
accepting, but Joseph urged him to take it, and then gave each of the
other brethren a similar amount, which left him without any. Addressing
the brethren, he then said: "Now you all have money, and I have none;
but the time will come when I will have money and you will have none!"
He then said to Bishop Knight: "You go back and buy the farm!"

Brother Knight went to White, but learned from him that he had raised
the price one hundred dollars, and returned to Joseph without closing
the bargain. Joseph again sent him with positive orders to purchase,
but Brother Knight, finding that White had raised the price still
another hundred dollars, again returned without purchasing. For the
third time then Joseph commanded him to go and buy the farm, and
charged him not to come back till he had done so.

When Bishop Knight got back to White, he had raised another hundred
on the place, making the whole amount twenty-eight hundred dollars.
However, the bargain was closed and the obligations drawn up, but
how the money was going to be raised neither Brother Knight nor the
other Brethren could see. The next morning Joseph and several of the
brethren went down to Mr. White's to sign the agreement and make the
first payment on the land. A table was brought out with the papers upon
it, and Joseph signed them, moved back from the table and sat with his
head down, as if in thought for a moment. Just then a man drove up in
a carriage and asked if Mr. Smith was there. Joseph hearing it, got up
and went to the door. The man said, "Good morning, Mr. Smith; I am on a
speculation to-day. I want to buy some land, and thought I would come
and see you." Joseph then pointed around where his land lay, but the
man said: "I can't go with you to-day to see the land. Do you want any
money this morning?"

Joseph replied that he would like some, and when the stranger asked
"How much?" he told him "Five hundred dollars."

The man walked into the house with Joseph, emptied a small sack of gold
on the table, and counted out that amount. He then handed to Joseph
another hundred dollars, saying: "Mr. Smith, I make you a present of

After this transpired, Joseph laughed at the brethren and said: "You
trusted in money; but I trusted in God. Now I have money and you have

Transcriber's Note:

Some apparent printer's errors (such as "jonrney" instead of "journey"
and "appeaance" instead of "appearance") have been resolved.

1 2 3 4 5 6 8

Online LibraryVariousEarly Scenes in Church History → online text (page 8 of 8)