THE year 1881 was ushered in under about normal conditions. No special encouragement or discouragement visible, but the church work gradually coming into more general notice, and establishing itself on a more permanent basis.
A discussion occurred early in January at New Providence, Indiana, between Professor A. M. Bellas, of Indiana, of the Methodist Church, and Elder M. R. Scott.
Elder J. L. Bear wrote from Hedingen, Zürich, Switzerland, January 24, that some who had been to Utah and returned, having lost confidence in the institution there, were ready to receive the truth. He had offered to discuss with the Utah representatives on the following propositions:
(1) Is polygamy a true and holy principle, commanded by God? (2) Is Adam our God? (3) Was Brigham Young the legal successor of Joseph the Martyr? (4) Is Utah the gathering place? (5) Is blood-atonement, viz., to take men's life to save their souls, a doctrine of Christ? (6) is tithing as it is required from the Utah church through their leaders in accordance with the law of God?
At the time of writing his proposition had not been accepted.
January 29 and 30, a discussion was held at Lehi, Utah, between the Utah people and the Reorganization, Messrs. Thurman and Evans representing the former, and Elders Blair and Anthony the latter. Elder Blair, after giving a synopsis of the debate, adds: "The fruits of the discussion for good are already seen, and we look for further good results."
February 12, 1881, Elder David Brown wrote from Tiona, Tahiti, as follows:
Since I last wrote to you, sir, our Bro. William Nelson has gone among the Tuamoutu group of islands, otherwise in the Tahiti charts called Dangerous Archipelago on account of the fearful coral reefs that surround them, to preach to the natives; the most of them are already Mormons of old standing. I am happy to state that everything around Tahiti and Morea is very quiet, and progressing nicely. I have baptized several since last I wrote to you, sir, but also I've lost a few by death. By first opportunity I shall send The Saints' Herald to William Nelson, but I am doubtful whether he will accept his mission.-The Saints' Herald, vol. 28, p. 152.
About this time one Lars Peterson, of Independence, Missouri, signing himself, "The Mission of Baurak Ale," came out in several pamphlets in advocacy of celibacy, and strongly condemning the institution of marriage. He continued his work for several years, but his efforts were of so little importance that we do not follow him in detail.
On March 2 Elder J. F. Burton wrote from Los Angeles, California, giving account of some persecution, and adding the following account of a remarkable case of healing:
One thing that made the people angry was this, a Presbyterian on the Conejo, H. W. Mills, had not spoken for over four years only in a whisper; he heard us each time we preached there, read our tracts, investigated, believed, and the last time I was there in the last meeting asked for the administration. I told him after some questioning, I would meet him at his or some one else's house after meeting; so he came with me-we conversed and I instructed until near midnight; he, Mr. and Mrs. Danforth, Mrs. Gries and daughter, not members, and Emma and I being present; we then administered to him, and the next morning he had his voice a little. This was Monday; Tuesday it was stronger, and Wednesday quite strong. He then wrote an open letter for all the people of
Hueneme, telling of this, and sent it to Bro. Livingston. He is known in both of these counties, is connected with some wealthy families, so it has made quite a stir, of course. They say, "O, that is nothing, his voice would have come anyway," etc. As for us, we rejoiced; for it was God confirming the word spoken, and so, this far at least, acknowledging our office and ministry-thank God for this.-The Saints' Herald, vol. 28, pp. 124, 125.
This is confirmed by the following letter published in the Santa Barbara Weekly Press, for April 30, 1881:
NEWBURY PARK, Ventura County, California, April 21.
Friend Paddock: On the 6th of March last, Reverend Mr. Burton, of Los Angeles County, preached at our schoolhouse, and so impressed me as a man of faith, that I went to the house where he stayed, after service (he stayed at the adobe, a half mile south of my house) and asked him to pray for me, that my voice and health and strength might be restored. You know I have not been able to speak aloud for more than four years. There were a number of persons present. He placed his hands on my head and prayed that God would give to me speech, health and strength. The next day my voice was stronger than it had been for years. On Tuesday I spoke aloud, but with some effort, and could use my voice but little. Each day my voice increased in strength and volume till the following Monday, when it came out full and strong, as all my neighbors and many others know-for I was closely watched, to see if any answer would come to the prayer. All I can say is, I fully believe that my voice was restored by divine power, and in direct answer to prayer.
H. W. MILLS.
On March 5,1881, Elders William H. and Edmund L. Kelley visited the vicinity where the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated were found, and while there interviewed some of the old neighbors of the Smith family. Of these events Elder W. H. Kelley wrote a lengthy account which was published in the Saints' Herald for June 1, 1881. The following are extracts from this account:
On March 5 last, the opportunity was afforded me to gratify the wish to visit this place, which I improved. At about nine o'clock in the forenoon, in company with my brother, E. L. Kelley, whom I met on his return from Connecticut, where he had been on business, I left Palmyra, a town of about four thousand inhabitants, on the New York Central Railroad and went due south on the old Canandaigua Road, towards the little town of Manchester, six miles distant. We had not gone far, when our attention was directed to a hill in the distance, lying along and to the left of the roadside, which seemed to rise to a height considerably above any of
those surrounding it in any direction. This we selected as the hill Cumorah. A deep snow covered the ground, but the roads being good, with horses and sleigh, we were soon at its base. Inquiring of a German family residing at the foot of the hill to the northwest, we found that our selection was correct; it was indeed the hill Cumorah; or, as they termed it, "Mormon" or "Bible Hill."
In company with two German men and a boy, we ascended the hill on foot, and soon stood upon the highest point. The mind-picture I had formed of it and surrounding country, made from the descriptions written by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, was almost perfect.
At the north end it rises abruptly, narrowing as it rises until the top is reached, which is extended in length north and south, and is not more than two or three rods wide for some distance towards the south, when a gentle declination sets in, which continues seemingly, to the southern extremity, when it returns to the common level of the valley below; widening all the way, so as to occupy a number of acres of land.
Viewed at a distance, from the north, it has a pyramidal appearance, by reason of the sudden rise from the east and west, and narrow, bald top.
Doubtless the entire hill was once covered with trees and brush, as is shown from the remains of a few stumps, here and there, and two or three trees now lying on the top lately felled. The northern part is entirely bald, save the grass covering; but some distance back, the trees and brush, in places, are still standing.
Surrounding the hill to the north, east, and west, are small valleys, now covered with farms and dotted with houses. Far to the south the same features are presented. Altogether the scene is at once striking, beautiful, and imposing.
We could not determine to a certainty the exact locality from which the records were taken, on account of the snow; and then our guides disagreed as to the identical place.
As I stood and viewed the scene presented, I thought of the "great and tremendous battle" that is recorded as having been fought here between two powerful nations, and the scenes of blood and carnage that ensued-the weaker being utterly exterminated, with but one left to record the event and lament over the fallen.
Whatever may be thought of the truth or falsity of the narrative by men, it is certain that the face of the country sustains the record in a wonderful manner. It would be an excellent place from which to make a defense, in this day of great improvements in war implements, and especially so in an age when the bow and sling, battle-ax and war-club, were used as the instruments of death.
Another reason which led me to visit this place was, it is near where Joseph Smith, Sr., lived, and of the boyhood of Joseph Smith, the Seer, the neighborhood of Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and others, whose names are enshrined in the early history of the church, as defenders of the faith, and intimate associates of the Seer. A thousand rumors have
been set on foot and assiduously circulated about those men, by the enemies of the faith, impugning their motives and character, with a view to destroy their testimony in favor of the latter-day work.
Here is where they lived, and where, the stories say, lived those who knew of their bad character, etc. We were among some of their old neighbors, all unbelievers in the faith they taught, and we remembered some of the names of the parties published by their enemies as knowing facts against them, and determined to "beard the lion in his den," and hear the worst, let it hurt whom it would. So we set about it in good earnest, to interview, if possible, all of those referred to by the enemies of these men, as having a knowledge of them; and with one writing during each interview, we obtained the following as the results:
Having the names of Messrs. Bryant, Booth, and Reed, obtained from a published communication in the Cadillac News, of Michigan, about a year ago, by Reverend A. Marsh, of that place, who had received it from a brother reverend, one C. O. Thorn, of Manchester, New York, who claimed to have interviewed the above named gentlemen, and obtained from them wonderful revelations about the Smith family, Cowdery, etc. . .
Believing then that the whole story was a trumped up thing, I was determined to call on these gentlemen, and ascertain whether the pious reverend told the truth about what they said, or not.
At about ten o'clock in the forenoon we called at the house of Mr. Bryant, and knocked at the door, which was answered by a lady who gave her name as Mary Bryant. She gave us seats in the room where her husband, William Bryant, was sitting. He is now eighty-five years of age, tall, and lean in flesh, and, during our interview, sat in a stooping posture, with open mouth. His wife informed us that for the last few years his mind had been somewhat impaired. She has a good memory, is seventy-five years of age, intelligent, and seemingly a great talker. We announced that the purpose of our visit was to ascertain some facts from the old settlers, with reference to the people known as Mormons, who used to live there, as it is understood to have been the home of the Smith family and others, at the time the Book of Mormon is alleged to have been discovered.
To this Mr. Bryant in a slow voice replied: "Yes; that big hill you saw coming along, is where they say Joe Smith got the plates; you must have seen it coming along. Well, you can't find out much from me; I don't know much about them myself; I have seen Joe Smith once or twice; they lived about five miles from where I did; was not personally acquainted with any of them-never went to any of their meetings, and never heard one preach."
"What do you know about the character of the family? How were they for honesty? Were they industrious or lazy? We want to know their character among their old neighbors."
"Well, I don't know about that. I never saw them work; the people thought young Joe was a great liar."
"What made them think that?"
"They thought he lied when he said he found that gold bible."
"Before this what was thought of him, as to his telling the truth?"
"I never heard anything before this."
"What else did he lie about? And how did he get the name of being such a great liar?"
"The people said he lied about finding the plates; I don't know whether he lied about anything else; they were all a kind of a low, shiftless set."
"What do you mean by that?"
"The people said they were awful poor, and poor managers. Joe was an illiterate fellow. If you come from Palmyra, you could have got Tucker's work there, and it would have told you all about them. I have read a great deal about them."
"Yes; we have seen Tucker's work, but there are too many big stories in that. Thinking people don't believe them; they ridicule them, and demand the facts; we wish to get some facts which we can stand by.
"I don't know anything myself: I wish I did. Have you been to see Mr. Reed? He lives up north of Manchester; he knows."
Mrs. Bryant.-"My husband don't know anything about them; they did not live in the same neighborhood that we did, and he was not acquainted with them; he don't know anything."
"Well, were they drunkards?"
Mr. Bryant.-"Everybody drank whisky in them times."
"Did you ever see Joe Smith drunk, or drinking?"
"No, I can't say that I did; I only saw him once or twice, when he came to the woolen mill where I worked."
"Did you not see Joe drink sometime?"
Mrs. Bryant.-"He ought not to say anything, for he knows nothing about them; then it has been a long time ago."
"Have you stated now all you know about them?"
Mr. Bryant.-"Yes: I never knew much about them, anyway."
"Did you know any of their associates-Cowdery, Harris, or others?"
"No, I never knew any of them."
Mrs. Bryant.-"I knew Cowdery; Lyman Cowdery, I believe, was his name. They lived next door to us; they were low shacks,-he was a lawyer,-he was always on the wrong side of every case, they said."
"Did he ever teach school?"
"No, not this one."
"Did you know any other one?"
"No, I only knew this one and his family; I know they borrowed my churn once, and when it came home, I had to scour it all over before I used it. My father owned the largest house there was in the country at that time."
"How were they about being honest, and telling the truth?"
"I don't remember anything about that, now."
"Were they religious people-pious?"
"No; they did not belong to any church; I know they didn't, for there were only two churches there, the Baptist and Methodist,-sometimes the Universalists preached there,-they did not belong to either of those churches."
Mr. Bryant.-"He (Cowdery), was strong against the Masons; he helped to write Morgan's book, they said."
"What do you know, now, about the Smiths, or others; you have lived here about seventy-five years, have you not, Mrs. Bryant?"
"Yes, I have lived here all my life; but I never knew anything about the Smiths myself; you will find it all in Tucker's work. I have read that. Have you been to see Mr. Booth? He lives right up here, on the road running south; he knows all about them, they say."
"Very good; we will call and see him. Thank you for your kindness in allowing us to trouble you."
"Oh, it is no trouble; I wish we knew more to tell you."
We then called upon Mr. David Booth, an intelligent gentleman, hale, hearty, and upwards of seventy years of age-and made known our business.
Mr. Booth promptly stated that he knew nothing of the Smiths, or their character; did not live in their neighborhood, and never saw either of them; did not know anything about them, or their book.
"Did you know the Cowderys?"
"I knew one-the lawyer."
"What kind of a character was he?"
"A low pettifogger."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Why, he was not a regular lawyer, but took small cases and practiced before justices of the peace. We call them pettifoggers here."
"What was his given name?"
"Lyman; he never taught school; guess he was no church member; he was a Mason; that was all there was to him. They called him 'loose Cowdery.'"
"What did they mean by that?"
"Why, he would take small cases; would be on the wrong side, and pettifog before justices, was the reason, I suppose."
"Are you certain his name was Lyman? Wasn't it Oliver?"
"It has been a long time ago. I think maybe his name was Oliver."
"Did he drink?"
"Everybody drank then. I never saw Cowdery drink."
"Mr. Bryant, here in the village, told us that he was a strong anti-Mason, and helped to write Morgan's work."
"Oh, that is all nonsense; they don't know anything about it. Mr. Bryant hasn't been here more than thirty-five years; his wife was raised here-is his second wife. Cowdery was a strong Mason, so they all said; that is all the religion he had."
"Do you know Reverend Thorn, a Presbyterian minister at Manchester?"
"Yes; I know him."
"What kind of a fellow is he?"
"He's a pretty sharp fellow, and will look after his bread and butter, you may depend on that."
"Did he ever interview you on this subject?"
"No sir; he never did."
"Did he not call to see what you knew about the Smiths and Cowderys about a year ago?"
"No, he never did to my recollection."
"Did you know he had a statement of yours published in Michigan in regard to this, last year?"
"No sir; I never heard of it before."
"Did you ever give him one to publish?"
"I never did-did not know he wanted one."
"He will look out for himself, will he?"
"He will that; that is him."
"You have lived here all your life. Tell us of some one who can tell us all about the people we wish to learn about-some of the old settlers."
"Squire Pierce and Mr. Reed live a few miles north from here, in the neighborhood where the Smiths lived; they know all about them, they say. The Smiths never lived in this neighborhood."
"Do you know Thomas H. Taylor, of Manchester?"
"What kind of a fellow is he?"
"He is a pretty smart fellow; can do most anything he undertakes; he is a lawyer, and lectures sometimes."
"Mr. Booth, we were told, is a Free Methodist. His address is Shortsville, Ontario County, New York."
Following the directions of Mr. Booth, we repassed the town of Manchester, and at one o'clock in the afternoon, arrived at the house of Ezra Pierce, a very pleasant and hospitable New York farmer, quite well informed in the political history of the country, especially on the Democratic side. Approaching the subject of the desired interview to him, he quickly answered by saying:
"Well, gentlemen, I must first ask you a question; because I went on to give my statement to some parties once, and as it did not suit them, they got mad and began to abuse and insult me; said that I lied about it. Let me ask: Are you Mormons?"
E. L.-"I am a lawyer, myself; this other gentleman can speak for himself. We don't propose to be anything, especially during this interview; we are here to try to find out some facts, and we don't care who they hit; it is facts that we are after, and you may be sure there will be no abuse, no matter which side they are on'"
"All right; that's fair; go ahead."
"Were you acquainted with the 'Smith family?"
"Oh, yes; I pulled sticks with Joe for a gallon of brandy once at a log-rolling; he was about my age. I was born in 1806. I lived about three miles from the Smiths. Was not very well acquainted with them; but knew them when I saw them. I knew young Joe, who claimed to have found the plates, and old Joe, his father."
"Did young Joe drink?"
"Everybody drank them times."
"Did you ever see young Joe drink?"
"No, I never did; it was customary in those early days for everybody to drink, more or less. They would have it at huskings, and in the harvest-field, and places of gathering; the Smiths did not drink more than others."
"What about Joe's learning?"
"I know that he was ignorant; and he knew no more about hieroglyphics than that stove," pointing to the stove in the room.
"Well; go on and state what kind of a family they were-all about them."
"They were poor, and got along by working by the day; the old man had a farm up there, and a log house upon it. The old man Smith and Hyrum were coopers; I never went to the same school that the boys did-they dug for money sometimes; young Joe, he had a stone that he could look through and see where the money was; there were a good many others who dug with them, and Joe used to play all kinds of tricks upon them."
"Who said they dug for money?"
"Oh, I have heard it lots of times. If my brother was living, he could tell you all about it."
"Others dug besides the Smiths, did they?"
"Yes; there were others who dug; but I always heard that the Smiths dug the most; one of the Chases, a young lady, had a stone which she claimed she could look through and see money buried."
"Did anybody dig for her?"
"Yes; I guess they did. They said so."
"Then young Joe had some opposition in the seeing money business?"
"That is what everybody said."
"Who was this Miss Chase? Where does she live?"
"She is dead now; she was a sister to Abel Chase, who lives upon the Palmyra Road. Have you seen him? He will know all about this. He has been in the cave with the Smiths where the sheep bones were found-people used to think they were making counterfeit money."
"Did you ever see any of it?"
"Did any of the neighbors?"
"No; I never heard any say they did."
"Did any one ever catch them trying to pass counterfeit money?"
"No; oh! I don't say they made any; it was only talked around."
"Who talked it; their friends or enemies, and when was it talked?"
"Well; they were not their friends, of course; I never heard it while they lived here; after they went to Kirtland, Ohio, people were talking it."
Young lady, a daughter of Mr. Pierce:
"The sheets, the sheets, pa; what was it about the sheets? Ma said old Mr. Smith come here with the sheets-and she told him to leave. How was it?" (looking to other members of the house).
"The sheets; what kind of sheets?" (I began to think of ghosts and hobgoblins.)
"The sheets, or the leaves he was carrying around in an old sack, or something."
Our feelings were relieved somewhat when we learned, on further inquiry, that Mr. Smith had called upon them when the Book of Mormon was first published, with a few unbound volumes for sale, and was ordered out of the house by "ma;" nothing like ghosts being connected with the event.
"Squire, did you really think they were in the counterfeit money business?"
"No; I never thought they did that."
"Tell us about the cave you spoke of?"
"The cave is over there in the hill now-a large cave."
"In what hill? The hill they call 'Mormon Hill?'"
"No; it is about a mile from that; but what are you so particular about it for?"
"We want to go and see it-we want to see the thing itself. Now you have been there; give us the description, while we write it down, so that we can find it."
"No; I never saw it; besides it is all caved in now, so you could not see anything. There is no cave there now, it is all fallen in."
Mr. Pierce having referred us to Mr. Reed, Orlando Saunders, and Abel Chase, we took leave of him and his intelligent family, and called next at the residence of Mr. Orin Reed.
He was at his home, doing some work about the barn. He is a gentleman of about seventy years of age, hard of hearing, and of pleasant and intelligent countenance. Breaking the object of our call to him, he readily informed us that he knew nothing whatever in regard to the character of Joseph Smith, or his family. "Mr. Reed, were you not acquainted with the Smith family, or some of those early connected with them?"
"No, I was not. I lived in the town of Farmington when the Smiths lived here. I knew nothing about any of them; was not personally acquainted with them, and never heard any of them preach, nor never attended any of their meetings. I have seen Hyrum Smith. He bought a piece of land near here, and lived on it some time after the others left; but I don't know anything against him."
"We were given your name by a number of persons, who claimed that you did know all about them, Mr. Reed?"
"Is that so? Well, they are mistaken; I don't know anything about it. I think Mr. Orlando Saunders, living up on the road to Palmyra, will know more about that people than any one around here. He was better acquainted with them; or lived right by them, and had a better opportunity of knowing them."
"Yes, we have his name already; but have not seen him yet. Do you know Mr. Thorn, the Presbyterian minister at Manchester, over here?"
"Yes, I know him slightly."
"Did you not make a statement to him in regard to the character of these men; that they were low persons, and not good associates, or something of the kind?"
"I never did.;
"Did he call on you to find out what you knew about it?"
"No, sir, he never did; at least he never let me know anything about it, if he did."
"Did you ever see a statement he sent to Michigan, last year, and had published, purporting to be what you and others knew about the Smiths and Cowderys?
"No, I never did; did not know that one was ever published before."
"You think we can find out about these persons from Mr. Saunders, then, Mr. Reed?"
"Yes; he is more likely to know than any one round here."
Leaving Mr. Reed, we at once drove to the house of Mr. Orlando Saunders, and found that gentleman, with his wife and two sons, at supper. Mr. Saunders is a man seventy-eight years old, in April, 1881; a fair type of the intelligent New York farmer; seemingly well-to-do in this world's goods, and quite active for a man of his years; and withal, has an honest and thoughtful face.
Entering upon conversation with reference to our business, Mr. Saunders at once said:
"Well, you have come to a poor place to find out anything. I don't know anything against these men, myself." (Evidently judging that we wanted to get-something against them, only.)
"Were you acquainted with them, Mr. Saunders?"
"Yes, sir; I knew all of the Smith family well; there were six boys; Alvin, Hyrum, Joseph, Harrison, William, and Carlos, and there were two girls; the old man was a cooper; they have all worked for me many a day; they were very good people; Young Joe, (as we called him then,) has worked for me, and he was a good worker; they all were,. I did not consider them good managers about business; but they were poor people; the old man had a large family."
"In what respect did they differ from other people, if at all?"
"I never noticed that they were different from other neighbors; they were the best family in the neighborhood in case of sickness; one was at
my house nearly all the time when my father died; I always thought them honest; they were owing me some money when they left here; that is, the old man and Hyrum did, and Martin Harris. One of them came back in about a year and paid me."
"How were they as to habits of drinking and getting drunk?"
"Everybody drank a little in those days, and the Smiths with the rest; they never got drunk to my knowledge."
"What kind of a man was Martin Harris?"
"He was an honorable man. Martin Harris was one of the finest men of the town."
"How well did you know young Joseph Smith?"
"Oh I just as well as one could very well; he has worked for me many a time, and been about my place a great deal. He stopped with me many a time, when through here, after they went west to Kirtland; he was always a gentleman when about my place."
"What did you know about his finding that book, or the plates in the hill over here?"
"He always claimed that he saw the angel and received the book; but I don't know anything about it. Have seen it, but never read it as I know of; didn't care anything about it."
"Well; you seem to differ a little from a good many of the stories told about these people."
"I have told you just what I know about them, and you will have to go somewhere else for a different story."
Mr. Saunders giving us the directions to the house of Abel Chase, we next called upon him and ascertained the following:
Mr. Chase.-"I am sixty-seven years old. Knew the Smiths; the old man was a cooper. I was young and don't remember only general character. They were poorly educated, ignorant and superstitious; were kind of, shiftless, but would do a good day's work. They used to call Joe, 'Lobby Joe.' He got a singular looking stone, which was dug up out of my father's well; it belonged to my brother Willard, and he could never get it. His mother, old Mrs. Smith, got the stone from mother."
"How do you know Joe ever had it?"
"Oh, I don't know that; but my brother could never get it back."
"Your sister had a stone she could look through and see things, so they have told us; did you ever see that, Mr. Chase?"
"Yes; I have seen it; but that was not the one that old Mrs. Smith got."
"Well; could you see things through that?"
"I could not; it was a dark looking stone; it was a peculiar stone."
"Do you really think your sister could see things by looking through that stone, Mr. Chase?"
"Well, she claimed to; and I must say there was something strange about it."
"Where is your sister now?"
"She is not living now; my brother Willard is dead, also. He would know more than I do about those things."
"How did the stone look, you say Mrs. Smith got?"
"I don't know; I never saw that."
"How do you know she got it?"
"They said she did; I was young, and don't remember myself
"Did you ever see the Smiths dig for money; or did you ever see the cave where they say met at?"
"No. I never saw them dig, myself; I never saw the cave."
"Well; you were a young man then, how did it come you lived so near, and never saw them do these things?"
"I was young, and never went where they were. Don't know anything about it but what I have heard. If you will see Mr. Gilbert, at Palmyra, he can tell you more about it than any person else; he knows it all, and had been getting everything he could for years to publish against them; he was in with Tucker in getting out Tucker's work. "
"All right, Mr. Chase, we will see him this evening if possible. Good day, sir. Much obliged for the trouble."
"Oh! it is no trouble; I only wish I could tell you more."
Early in the evening we called upon Mr. John H. Gilbert, at his residence, and made known our desire for an interview, etc. He seemed quite free to give us all the information he had upon the subject, and said he had been for the past forty-five or fifty years doing all he could to find out what he could about the Smiths and Book of Mormon. He is a man seventy-nine years of age, and quite active even in this time of life.
"What did you know about the Smiths, Mr. Gilbert?"
"I knew nothing myself; have seen Joseph Smith a few times, but not acquainted with him. Saw Hyrum quite often. I am the party that set the type from the original manuscript for the Book of Mormon. They translated it in a cave. I would know that manuscript to-day if I should see it. The most of it was in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting. Some in Joseph's wife's; a small part though. Hyrum Smith always brought the manuscript to the office; he would have it under his coat, and all buttoned up as carefully as though it was so much gold. He said at the time it was translated from plates by the power of God, and they were very particular about it. We had a great deal of trouble with it. It was not punctuated at all. They did not know anything about punctuation, and we had to do that ourselves."
"Well; did you change any part of it when you were setting the type?"
"No, sir; we never changed it at all."
"Why did you not change it and correct it?"
"Because they would not allow us to; they were very particular about that. We never changed it in the least. Oh, well; there might have been one or two words that I changed the spelling of; I believe I did the spelling of one, and perhaps two, but no more."
"Did you set all of the type, or did some one help you?"
"I did the whole of it myself, and helped to read the proof, too; there was no one who worked at that but myself. Did you ever see one of the first copies? I have one here that was never bound. Mr. Grandin, the printer, gave it to me. If you ever saw a Book of Mormon you will see that they changed it afterwards."
"They did! Well, let us see your copy; that is a good point. How is it changed now?"
"I will show you," (bringing out his copy). "Here on the title page it says," (reading) "'Joseph Smith, Jr., author and proprietor.' Afterwards, in getting out other editions they left that out, and only claimed that Joseph Smith translated it."
"Well, did they claim anything else than that he was the translator when they brought the manuscript to you?"
"Oh, no; they claimed that he was translating it by means of some instruments he got at the same time he did the plates, and that the Lord helped him."
"Was he educated, do you know?"
"Oh, not at all then; but I understand that afterwards he made great advancement, and was quite a scholar and orator."
"How do you account for the production of the Book of Mormon, Mr. Gilbert, then, if Joseph Smith was so illiterate?"
"Well, that is the difficult question. It must have been from the Spalding romance-you have heard of that, I suppose. The parties here then never could have been the authors of it, certainly. I have been for the last forty-five or fifty years trying to get the key to that thing; but we have never been able to make the connection yet. For some years past I have been corresponding with a person in Salt Lake, by the name of Cobb, who is getting out a work against the Mormons; but we have never been able to find what we wanted."
"If you could only connect Sidney Rigdon with Smith some way, you could get up a theory."
"Yes; that is just where the trouble lies; the manuscript was put in our hands in August, 1829, and all printed by March, 1830, and we can not find that Rigdon was ever about here, or in this State, until sometime in the fall of 1830. But I think I have got a way out of the difficulty now. A fellow that used to be here, by the name of Saunders, Lorenzo Saunders, was back here some time ago, and I was asking him about it. At first he said he did not remember of ever seeing Rigdon until after 1830 sometime; but after studying it over a while, he said it seemed to him that one time he was over to Smiths, and that there was a stranger there he never saw before, and that they said it was Rigdon. I told him about Cobb, of Utah, and asked him if he would send Cobb his affidavit that he saw Rigdon before the book was published, if he (Cobb), would write to him; he finally said he would, and I wrote to Cobb about it, and gave Saunders' address, and after a long time, I got a letter from him, saying he had written three letters to Saunders, and could get no answer. I
then sat down and wrote Saunders a letter myself, reminding him of his promise, and wrote to Cobb also about it; and after a long time Cobb wrote me again, that Saunders had written to him; but I have never learned how satisfactory it was, or whether he made the affidavit or not."
"Is that Saunders a brother of the Saunders living down here, Orlando Saunders?"
"Yes, sir; they are brothers."
"Is he older or younger?"
"Younger; about fifteen years younger."
"Then he must have been quite young before the Book of Mormon was published?"
"Yes, he was young."
"This Saunders down here don't talk like a great many people; he seems to think the Smiths were very good people; we have been there to-day."
"Oh, I don't think the Smiths were as bad as people let on for. Now Tucker, in his work, told too many big things; nobody could believe his stories."
"Did the Smiths ever dig for money?"
"Yes; I can tell you where you can find persons who know all about that; can take you to the very place."
"Can you? All right, give us their names."
"The Jackaway boys-two old bachelors, and their sister, an old maid, live together, right up the street going north, near the north part of the town; they can tell you all about it, and show you the very places where they dug."
"What will you take for your copy of the Book of Mormon; or will you sell it?"
"Yes, I will sell it."
"How much for it?"
"I will take five hundred dollars for it, and no less; I have known them to sell for more than that."
"Well, I am not buying at those figures, thank you."
"What kind of a man was Martin Harris?"
"He was a very honest farmer, but very superstitious."
"What was he before his name was connected with the Book of Mormon?"
"Not anything, I believe; he was a kind of a skeptic."
"What do you mean by his being superstitious? Was he religious?"
"Well, I don't know about that; but he pretended to see things."
"What do you think of the Book of Mormon, as a book; you are well posted in it?"
"Oh, there is nothing taught in the book but what is good; there is no denying that; it is the claim of being from God that I strike at."
"Well, is it any more wonderful than that God gave the Bible?"
"No, not a bit; and there is a good deal more evidence to show that that is divine than there is for some of the books in the Bible. Why, it
is all nonsense to think that Moses wrote some of the books attributed to him, in the Bible."
"Then you don't believe the 'fish story,' either, Mr. Gilbert?"
"No; nor that Jonah swallowed the whale."
"How about Sampson catching the three hundred foxes, and the firebrands?"
"Yes, that is a good one; you fellows will do."
"Much obliged, Mr. Gilbert."
"You are quite welcome. I wish I could give you more than I have."
Acting upon Mr. Gilbert's advice, we at once called upon the Jackaways, and found the older of the boys and the sister, ready to talk of what they knew. They had Tucker's work on the small table which they offered to sell us for three dollars, and then we could read for ourselves; but being quite familiar with its weaknesses, we declined to purchase at the price.
The conversation upon the main topic was as follows:
"What is your age?"
"I will be sixty-six years old on my next birthday," said Mr. Jackaway." (The lady did not answer.)
"How far did you live from town at the time the Smiths, and those of their comrades, were in this country?"
"One half mile south of Palmyra."
"Were you acquainted with Joseph Smith and his early followers?"
"Yes, I knew them; seen them a many a time-old Joe and young Joe."
"How far did you live from them?"
"It was about a mile."
"You know about their digging for money, so Mr. Gilbert said; he sent us to you?"
"Oh, yes, I can show you the places now; there are three places over there where they dug."
"Well, we want to see them. Did you help them dig?"
"No, I never helped them."
"Well, you saw them digging?"
"No, I never saw them digging."
"How do you know they dug the holes you refer to?"
"I don't know they dug them; but the holes are there."
"Did anybody else dig for money at that time there?"
"I believe there were some others that dug; but I did not see them."
"Do you know any of them?"
"I only know one now; he lives up at Canandaigua."
(Mr. Jackaway gave us the name, but for some cause we fail to find it in our notes.)
"What do you know about the Smiths' character?"
"I don't know much about that."
"Would they steal, get drunk, etc.?"
"Don't know anything about their stealing. Joe and his father got drunk once."
"Where was that?"
"It was in the hay-field; Joe and his father wrestled, and Joe threw the old man down, and he cried."
"What did he cry for?"
"Because Joe was the best man, I guess."
"What did they drink to make them drunk?"
"They drank cider."
"Got drunk so they could not walk, on cider, did they?"
"No; they could walk, but they cut up and acted funny."
"Did you ever see them drink, or drunk, any other time?"
"No; not as I remember."
"What kind of a woman was the old lady Smith?"
"I don't know; I never was at the house. She was kind in sickness."
"Quite a number here in town, to-day, have told us it was two and a half to three miles from Palmyra to where the Smiths lived; how is that?"
"Yes; it was about three miles."
(How Jackaway lived within half a mile of town and only a mile from them he did not explain.)
"Where was Joe when he was translating his book?"
"At home; it was translated in the farmhouse."
"Mr. Gilbert, across here, said it was done in a cave; now you don't agree? What does Tucker say?" (reading Tucker).
"They all differ. Now, Tucker has a statement from Willard Chase in his book, and Chase said Tucker never called on him at all to find out what he knew."
Lady.-"Yes; I have heard Willard Chase say Tucker never even asked him for what he knew, and Chase lived next door to him, too. Chase is dead now."
"Well; did you ever see Hurlbut or Howe, that published works?"
"Yes; Hurlbut came around first, I believe, soon after the thing started, and they had gone to Kirtland, Ohio, trying to find things against them; and there have been a good many around trying to connect Sidney Rigdon with them."
"What kind of men were Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery?"
"Harris was an industrious, honest man; lived north here, two miles. The Cowderys were as good as the general run of people. Have you seen Doctor Stafford? He lives at Rochester. His father, William Stafford is the one that furnished the 'black sheep' Tucker tells about there."
"He is? Well; do you know about that?"
"No; only what Tucker says there."
Taking leave of the Jackaways, in due time we called upon Doctor John Stafford, at Rochester, New York. He is now a retired physician, being too aged and infirm to practice. Answering a question as to the character of Joseph Smith, he said:
"He was a real clever, jovial boy. What Tucker said about them was false, absolutely. My father, William Stafford, was never connected with them in any way. The Smiths, with others, were digging for money before Joe got the plates. My father had a stone, which some thought they could look through, and old Mrs. Smith came there after it one day, but never got it. Saw them digging one time for money (this was three or four years before the Book of Mormon was found), the Smiths and others. The old man and Hyrum were there, I think, but Joseph was not there. The neighbors used to claim Sally Chase could look at a stone she had, and see money. Willard Chase used to dig when she found where the money was. Don't know as anybody ever found any money."
"What was the character of Smith, as to his drinking?"
"It was common then for everybody to drink, and to have drink in the field; one time Joe, while working for some one after he was married, drank too much boiled cider. He came in with his shirt torn; his wife felt bad about it, and when they went home, she put her shawl on him."
"Had he been fighting and drunk?"
"No; he had been scuffling with some of the boys. Never saw him fight; have known him to scuffle; would do a fair day's work if hired out to a man; but were poor managers."
"What about that black sheep your father let them have?"
"I have heard that story, but don't think my father was there at the time they say Smith got the sheep. I don't know anything about it."
"You were living at home at the time, and it seems you ought to know if they got a sheep, or stole one, from your father."
"They never stole one, I am sure; they may have got one some time."
"Well, Doctor, you know pretty well whether that story is true or not, that Tucker tells. What do you think of it?"
"I don't think it is true. I would have heard more about it, that is true. I lived a mile from Smiths; am seventy-six years old. They were peaceable among themselves. The old woman had a great deal of faith that their children were going to do something great. Joe was quite illiterate. After they began to have school at their house, he improved greatly."
"Did they have school in their own house?"
"Yes, sir; they had school in their house, and studied the Bible."
"Who was their teacher?"
"They did not have any teacher; they taught themselves."
"Did you know Oliver Cowdery?"
"Yes; he taught school on the Canandaigua Road, where the stone schoolhouse now stands; just three and a half miles south of Palmyra. Cowdery was a man of good character."
"What do you know about Martin Harris?"
"He was an honorable farmer; he was not very religious before the
Book of Mormon was published. Don't know whether he was skeptical or visionary. Old Joe claimed he understood geology, and could tell all kinds of minerals; and one time, down at Manchester, in the grocery, the boys all got pretty full, and thought they would have some fun, and they fixed up a dose for him." (We omit the ingredients of the dose, because improper for publication.)
"If young Smith was as illiterate as you say, Doctor, how do you account for the Book of Mormon?"
"Well, I can't; except that Sidney Rigdon was connected with them."
"What makes you think he was connected with them?"
"Because I can't account for the Book of Mormon any other way."
"Was Rigdon ever around there before the Book of Mormon was published?"
"No; not as we could ever find out. Sidney Rigdon was never there, that Hurlbut, or Howe, or Tucker could find out."
"Well; you have been looking out for the facts a long time, have you not, Doctor?"
"Yes; I have been thinking and hearing about it for the last fifty years, and lived right among all their old neighbors there most of the time."
"And no one has ever been able to trace the acquaintance of Rigdon and Smith, until after the Book of Mormon was published, and Rigdon proselyted by Pratt, in Ohio?"
"Not that I know of."
"Do you know the Pratts,-Parley or Orson Pratt?"
"No; have heard of them."
"Did you know David Whitmer?"
"No; he lived in Seneca County, New York."
"Have you told now all you know about the Smiths and the Book of Mormon?"
"All that I can recollect."
Here we bade the Doctor, whom we found to be quite a gentleman, affable, and ready to converse,-good day.
During the time of making the interviews in Manchester, we accidentally met the Thomas H. Taylor referred to by Mr. Booth in the interview with him. He is a Scotchman by birth, of advanced age, but very robust and active. Somewhat of the knock-down and drag-out style; is a public speaker and lecturer, and practices law to some extent. He claims to be one of the original parties with John Brown at Harper's Ferry-all through the fight there-and previous to the War of the Rebellion, was engaged in piloting the darkey to Canada and freedom. He was a soldier throughout the war, and saw hard service. In religion he follows Colonel Robert G. Ingersol. To our inquiries if he was acquainted with the Smiths, and the early settlers throughout that part, sometimes called Mormons, he said:
"Yes; I knew them very well; they were very nice men, too; the only trouble was they were ahead of the people; and the people, as in every
such case, turned out to abuse them, because they had the manhood to stand for their own convictions. I have seen such work all through life, and when I was working with John Brown for the freedom of my fellow man, I often got in tight places; and if it had not been for Gerritt Smith, Wendell Phillips, and some others, who gave me their influence and money, I don't know how I would ever got through."
"What did the Smiths do that the people abused them so?"
"They did not do anything. Why! these rascals at one time took Joseph Smith and ducked him in the pond that you see over there, just because he preached what he believed and for nothing else. And if Jesus Christ had been there, they would have done the same to him. Now I don't believe like he did; but every man has a right to his religious opinions, and to advocate his views, too, if people don't like it I let them come out and meet him on the stand, and show his error. Smith was always ready to exchange views with the best men they had."
"Why didn't they like Smith?"
"To tell the truth, there was something about him they could not understand; someway he knew more than they did, and it made them mad."
"But a good many tell terrible stories, about them being low people, rogues, and liars, and such things. How is that?"
"Oh! they are a set of d-d liars. I have had a home here, and been here, except when on business, all my life-ever since I came to this country, and I know these fellows; they make these lies on Smith, because they love a lie better than the truth. I can take you to a great many old settlers here who will substantiate what I say, and if you want to go, just come around to my place across the street there, and I'll go with you."
"Well, that is very kind, Mr. Taylor, and fair; if we have time we will call around and give you a chance; but we are first going to see these fellows who, so rumor says, know so much against them."
"All right; but you will find they don't know anything against those men when you put them down to it; they could never sustain anything against Smith ."
"Do you think Smith ever got any plates out of the hill he claimed to!"
"Yes; I rather think he did. Why not he find something as well as anybody else? Right over here, in Illinois and Ohio, in mounds there, they have discovered copper plates since, with hieroglyphics all over them; and quite a number of the old settlers around here testified that Smith showed the plates to them-they were good, honest men, and what is the sense in saying they lied? Now, I never saw the Book of Mormon -don't know anything about it, nor care; and don't know as it was ever translated from the plates. You have heard about the Spalding romance; and some claim that it is nothing but the books of the Bible that were rejected by the compilers of the Bible; but all this don't prove that Smith never got any plates."
"Do you know Reverend Thorn, here in Manchester?"
"The Presbyterian preacher?"
"Yes, that is the one."
"I know him."
"What kind of a fellow is he?"
"Well, originally he was nothing. He got some money, and went off to college a while, and came back a Presbyterian preacher. He knows just what he got there, and feels stuck up, and is now preaching for his bread and butter; and if they should take away his salary, he wouldn't last twenty-four hours."
"We are much obliged, Mr. Taylor, for your kindness."
"You are welcome, and if you will drive back, I will go with you and show you persons who can tell you all about those people."
We thus left Mr. Taylor, but for want of time, could not then return and accept his kind offer to show us around; hope to be able to do so some time in the future.
These facts and interviews are presented to the readers of the Herald impartially-just as they occurred-the good and bad, side by side; and allowing for a possible mistake, or error, arising from a misapprehension, or mistake in taking notes, it can be relied upon as the opinion and gossip had about the Smith family and others, among their old neighbors. It will be remembered that all the parties interviewed are unbelievers in, and some bitter enemies to, the faith of the Saints; and it is not unreasonable to suppose that they all told the worst they knew. So we submit it to the readers without comment, with the expectation of sending each one of the parties interviewed a copy when published.
COLDWATER, Michigan, March, 1881. Wm. H. Kelley
March 12, 1881, the Texas Central District was organized at Hearne, Texas; Heman C. Smith, chairman of meeting; (Sister) R. S. McMains, secretary. H. L. Thompson was chosen president; W. W. Belcher, vice-president; and (Sister) R. S. McMains, secretary.
In Herald for March 15 an account was published of a debate held in Virginia between a Reverend Mr. Taylor, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Elder D. L. Shinn.
On March 19, 1881, Elder David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses, made the proclamation declaring his attitude towards the Book of Mormon, and the faith of the church, published in footnote 6, pages 55 and 56 of volume 1 of this work, which was accompanied by the testimonial found in same note, page 56.
In Herald for April 1, 1881, the announcement was made that a branch had recently been organized at New Bedford, Massachusetts: John Smith, president; S. D. Stacy, priest; James Morris, teacher; and William Talbot, deacon. In the same Herald was a notice from G. H. Graves, colored missionary to the South, that he would need to close his mission and return home. He wrote as follows:
I have organized two branches; preached seventy-eight times; baptized twenty-two; helped to build one church. A great and marvelous work can be done if the church can send ministers forth into the field. I did not like the South at first; but after I began work and found out that no man could stand against the scripture, then I took fresh courage and went boldly into the work, and fought like a good soldier; and the Lord stood by me. Now I am sorry to think that I have to go away from here, and leave the people.
The annual conference convened at Plano, Illinois, April 6, 1881, Joseph Smith, president, H. A. Stebbins, secretary, John Scott, assistant secretary.
The following missionaries were present and reported: P. N. Brix, Josiah Ells, J. R. Lambert, T. W. Smith, J. H. Lake, W. H. Kelley, James Caffall, A. H. Smith, M. T. Short, J. H. Hansen, J. S. Patterson, J. C. Foss, Columbus Scott, G. T. Griffiths. The following reported in writing: Thomas Taylor, W. W. Blair, Z. H. Gurley, M. H. Forscutt, J. W. Gillen, J. L. Bear, W. T. Bozarth, J. T. Phillips, Glaud Rodger, J. C. Clapp, E. C. Brand, R. J. Anthony, John Thomas, Heman C. Smith, G. S. Hyde, B. V. Springer, C. N. Brown, F. P. Scarcliff, I. N. Roberts, J. F. Mintun, J. F. McDowell, G. H. Graves, A. J. Cato, Joseph Luff, C. G. Lanphear, O. E. Cleveland, C. A. Wickes, and G. F. Weston.
The Bishop reported total receipts by Bishop $7,153.34, by agents $4,909.93, total $12,063.27; expenditures, by Bishop $5,306.23, by agents $4,559.31, total $9,865.54; balance in hand $2,197.73.
Musical editor, M. H. Forscutt, reported that the work would be ready when the church was prepared to publish.
The Board of Publication reported total receipts since last report $9,089.78; total expenditures $7,753.22; balance on hand $1,336.56. Total assets, including the above balance,
$18,188; total liabilities $4,849.48; balance net capital $13,338.52.
The committee on representation presented a report through its chairman, Joseph Smith. After much discussion and a few amendments, it was adopted, reading as follows:
To the Conference in Session Assembled: Your committee on representation, beg leave and report:
Whereas, The method and fact of church representation in General Conferences, as at present practiced, seem not to be within the law, and are made inadequate to secure the common consent contemplated in that law. Therefore,
Resolved, That a more clearly defined method of representation should be adopted, and that to secure that method your committee recommend the adoption of the following rules on representation:
1. That the general officers of the church, known as the Presidency, the Twelve, the High Council, the Seventy, and the Bishopric (proper), are ex officio members of conference, and entitled to a voice and vote as representatives of the spiritual authorities of the church at large.
2. That high priests, elders, and priests engaged in the ministry and under missionary appointment of General Conference, or the general authorities of the church, and not laboring in and by the authority of organized districts, are hereby declared to be entitled to voice and vote in General Conferences when present.
3. That organized districts be authorized to appoint from their members, at their last quarterly session of district conference next preceding the session of the annual and semiannual General Conferences, delegates to said annual and semiannual sessions, who shall be entitled to represent said districts, which delegates so appointed shall be declared members of said General Conferences entitled to voice and vote.
Provided, That the choice and appointment by said districts shall be made by a majority of those present and voting, in regular or called session of district conference, of the holding of which due notice shall have been given, as to time and place within the district, to each and every branch composing said district; together with a statement of any important business or action that is to be presented to, or likely to be had by said general session, affecting said district, and to which their consent or denial is desired, that instructions to said delegates may be given as to their action.
And provided further, That the only qualifications to eligibility to the office of delegate from district to General Conference shall be membership and good standing.
Provided further, That not less than one, nor more than five delegates may be sent from any one district; but that said delegate, or delegates, shall be entitled to voice and vote in such General Conferences to which
they may be appointed, upon a Presentation of a certificate from the clerk of district conference to the said General Conferences, upon their organization at the times specified for their assembling.
And provided further, That said delegate or delegates shall be entitled to cast one vote for each branch of six members; and one vote for each twenty members in excess of six, that there may be in the branches of their said districts, in all cases where such a vote may be necessary, or desired, to secure the common consent designed in the law; but that in the common routine of business said delegates may vote as units, each in his own right, and in cases of division, the majority of the delegation from a district shall cast the whole vote of said district.
4. That each branch of six or more members, not included in an organized district, be authorized to appoint one delegate to the General Conferences, who may or may not be a member of said branch, but who shall be a member of the church and in good standing, whose qualifications to eligibility shall be the same as those required in districts, and who shall represent said branch and be entitled to voice and vote in said conferences to which he may be appointed; and who shall be entitled to cast one vote for the six members required to appoint, and one for each twenty members in excess of six composing said branch.
Provided further, That two or more branches in near proximity to each other, not in an organized district, may unite in choosing a delegate, who shall cast their vote, one vote for six members of each branch, and one vote for each twenty members in excess of the number six, multiplied by the number of branches represented; the manner of casting their votes in cases of importance and common routine of business to be as provided in cases of districts.
Provided further, That due general notice to the members of branches of the time and place of meeting for the choosing of said delegate be properly given, as required in cases of districts; certificate of appointment of branch delegate to be signed by the president or clerk of branch, and to be presented as provided in cases of districts.
5. That in all questions of grave importance, affecting the polity and faith of the church, districts and branches may instruct delegates to cast a majority and a minority report, for and against; but in no cases shall the number of the votes cast by said delegates so instructed, exceed the number to which the district appointing him or them shall be entitled as herein-before provided, and in cases of a tie in districts or branches on questions presented to them, certified to said delegates, the votes of said districts or branches shall be cast in equal numbers by the delegates.
6. In all questions of debate, incidental motions, and routine business, representatives, ex officio, and delegates, appointed, shall speak and vote as units and in their own separate and personal rights.
JOSEPH SMITH, Chairman.
Rule seven was adopted and added, reading as follows:
7. That the foregoing rules on representation may be altered and
amended at any General Conference of the church, and that all the provisions of said report on representation may be altered or amended at the next conference of the church to be held at --, on --, which shall be composed of members as provided by the rules adopted for the purpose of obtaining the voice of the whole people of the church. . . .
Provided, That at least two months notice of the nature of such amendment or amendments shall be given in the Herald, before the date of the sitting of the session of conference at which such amendment or amendments will be presented, giving manner and form in which such amendments are desired.
The Quorum of Twelve submitted a report including the following missions: J. W. Briggs and Z. H. Gurley, as circumstances permit. Josiah Ells and E. C. Briggs, present field. William H. Kelley, in charge of his present field, and also in charge of Chicago Mission in connection with T. W. Smith. Alexander H. Smith, James Caffall, and J. H. Lake, in charge of their present fields. J. R. Lambert, in charge of present field. Heman C. Smith, Texas. M. T. Short, Northern Illinois. William T. Bozarth and G. T. Griffiths, in Missouri, under A. H. Smith. J. C. Clapp, Oregon. J. C. Foss, Eastern Mission. Glaud Rodger, California. J. W. Gillen, "While we willingly recommend and sustain Bro. J. W. Gillen in his present field, yet in consideration of the fact that no help has been sent him as promised by the church, we think he is at liberty to use his discretion as to his continuance, and cheerfully sustain him as long as he may remain." E. C. Brand, Columbus Scott, and J. S. Patterson, present fields. J. H. Hansen, Western Iowa. T. E. Jenkins, Wales. George Montague, Southeastern Mission. J. L. Bear, Switzerland. B. V. Springer and Robert Davis, present fields. R. J. Anthony, Utah. John Thomas, present field. J. F. McDowell, "referred to his quorum for inquiry whether in his present state of health, he is in a condition to take a mission." Thomas Taylor, in charge of English Mission. R. Etzenhouser, referred to Des Moines District for an appointment. M. M. Turpen, recommended to Decatur District for appointment. Gordon E. Deuel, released from the Utah Mission.
The following resolution was adopted in conjoint council of the Twelve and the Bishopric:
Resolved, That we approve of the translation and publication of tracts and other printed matter in the Scandinavian and German languages, such translation, etc., to be hereafter regulated by an understanding between the Bishopric and the Twelve.
The Quorum of Twelve also presented the following resolutions:
Whereas, A committee was appointed some years ago to prepare a history of Joseph Smith, and, Whereas, We have not had a report from that committee for several conferences; Therefore, be it Resolved, That as a quorum we ask for a statement of the measure of progress the said committee have made in this work, and what the prospects are for an early completion of the same.
Whereas, Some years ago Bro. J. W. Briggs was appointed to prepare a history of the Reorganization, and, Whereas, We have had no report from him for years; Therefore, be it Resolved, That he be requested to report at the semiannual conference to be held at Council Bluffs this fall, the progress he has made in the work, and to state what the prospects are for an early completion of the same.
Resolved, That Bro. Peter Brix be sustained in the Scandinavian Mission; and that we recommend him for further ordination to the Quorum of the Seventy; and that his ordination be provided for by the First Presidency as to time and place.
Resolved, That the Chicago Mission be sustained.
These appointments were approved, as were the resolutions. The Twelve and Bishopric put the matter referred to in the above report into form, and upon its presentation it was adopted. 1
Application for membership on original baptism was made
1 The report of the Quorum of the Twelve and Bishopric on the matter referred was read, as follows:
We, the Quorum of the Twelve and the Bishopric, present to you the subject referred to us by your action yesterday. The Epistle of the Twelve and Bishopric is presented with an amendment in the form of the revelation of 186l inserted in its proper place, and the amendment to rule nine of the Principles and Rules of Action. We add the rule authorizing appointments of district treasurers.
We recommend that the Board of Publication be authorized to print in convenient form for use, at least five thousand copies of the proceedings of the conjoint council, held at Plano, Illinois, April, 1878, with the amendments adopted at this session of conference, accompanying this, and that a copy be sent to each subscriber of the "Herald" and "Advocate," and a sufficient number to furnish the head of each family, not a subscriber, with a copy.
ALEX. H. SMITH, W. H. KELLEY,
JAMES CAFFALL, JOHN H. LAKE,
J. R. LAMBERT, THOMAS W. SMITH,
Of the Quorum of the Twelve.
ISRAEL L. ROGERS, HENRY A. STEBBINS,
Of the Bishopric.
by Mary W. Aldrich, of Hancock County, Illinois. She was received. Application being made by Sarah R. Belknap, of Fayette County, Iowa, it was referred to secretary of the church and he authorized to enroll her name if he found that all is correct.
The organization and boundary lines of Texas Central District were approved by the conference.
The following resolutions were adopted; the second one was presented by the Quorum of Twelve:
Resolved, That this conference discourage the use of tobacco, and of strong drinks as a beverage, by the church, and especially by the ministry. . . .
Whereas, It is desirable that the greatest possible amount of efficient ministerial labor be performed, and, Whereas, There are elders and priests who are prepared and willing to take the field, provided they have evidence that their labors will be acceptable to the church; therefore we petition your honorable body to adopt the following resolution:
Resolved, That the Twelve and Seventy, when in charge of fields, have the privilege and right to take with them elders and priests as traveling companions, or to appoint them to labor in their respective fields, provided that such elders or priests require nothing from the general church treasury to keep them in the field.
On the matter of history, the following report was presented:
Your committee on the history of Joseph Smith, report progress, the chairman having succeeded in making some compilations for that work. Prospect for publishing is good.
JOSEPH SMITH, Chairman.
The request of the Twelve to publish proceedings of joint council between that quorum and the Bishopric was adopted.
Thomas Taylor was sustained as president of the British Mission.
May 13, 1881, Elder J. W. Gillen wrote to the Herald from Sydney, Australia, as follows:
I am still striving to do what I can for the spread of the work in this mission, but the progress is slow. I held out-door meetings in Lambton, and also in Wallsend, for nearly three months, that were well attended, and good attention given.
May 26, Elder J. L. Bear wrote from Zürich, Switzerland, that he had baptized one "in the blue waters of the Rhine," but that the work moved slowly. He stated: "If Brighamism never had existed the work would be more
prosperous. That apostate church will have to be entirely rooted up, before I believe that our claims will have a decided success on this continent."
On May 28, Elder W. W. Blair wrote to the Herald from Ogden, Utah, giving an account of a miraculous conversion which occurred some years before under the administration of Elder E. C. Briggs.
OGDEN, Utah, May 28,1881.
In the fall of 1863 , Elders E. C. Briggs and John Taylor called at the residence of John Hart, near Slatersville, in this vicinity, to converse with the family in respect to the Reorganized Church, but found only Mrs. Ann Hart, the wife, and Miss Alice, the daughter, at home. Mrs. Hart, on being questioned as to her belief in polygamy, avowed with much warmth her convictions of its being commanded of God, and sought to defend her views with arguments, though she admitted there were some things about it she did not comprehend. After no little conversation between the parties, the daughter Alice, blind from her infancy, feeble from recent sickness, and so hoarse as to be scarcely able to speak, rose upon her feet, raising her right hand toward heaven, her face white and radiant, spoke to her mother in a clear, full voice, saying, "Mother, mother, hear what the Lord saith unto you, I never commanded any one to go into polygamy! The first Bible account of it is in regard to Lamech." And she then repeated, in a clear and connected manner, the following, "Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech; hearken unto my speech, for I have slain a man to my wounding and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged seven fold, truly Lamech shall be seventy and seven fold." Astonished and amazed, her mother said to her, "Alice, where did you learn that?" "What do you mean, mother?" replied the daughter, not comprehending what she had said or done. Then Elder Briggs remarked to Mrs. Hart that God had spoken to convince her that polygamy was not of God.
The mother comprehended the situation at once, and perceived also that the voice of her daughter was completely restored. Whereupon Elder Briggs prophesied that she should never lose her voice again till death, which prophesy has been fulfilled up to this time. It is needless to say that Sr. Hart, her husband, and daughter finally united with the Reorganized Church.
They moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1864, and in 1872 returned to Utah, in view of enjoying better health. They now reside in this city, Ogden, where they exert an excellent influence as worthy and exemplary members of the church of Christ.
About November 1, 1902, Miss Alice Hart was residing at Bloomington, Idaho, and was visited by Elder A. J. Layland, who wrote us from Raymond, Idaho, December 20, 1902. In
answer to our inquiry as to whether she still retains her voice, he wrote: "She has a good voice and is always glad to have her friends call on her, and talk with her, and I can assure you she can do her share of talking, as clearly and plainly as anybody."
In the Herald for June 1, 1881, an editorial under the caption of "Removal," announced the decision to remove the publishing house to Lamoni, Iowa, and giving reasons why other places were not selected. The article reads as follows:
The necessity for a removal of the business center from Plano, to some locality where a better opportunity for Zion to spread abroad and flourish, has been frequently urged upon us; and a variety of opinions have been entertained and expressed in regard to the place most proper and suitable for the new business center to be established. Chicago and Nauvoo, Illinois; Stewartsville, Far West, St. Joseph, and Independence, Missouri; and Council Bluffs, Iowa; have each been named, and the advantages of some of them have been urged upon our attention. Of these, Nauvoo and Independence seem to have been favorites, for reasons easily understood. The former was the resting-place of the Saints after the removal from Missouri, and was the locality of the greatest prosperity the church ever experienced in the lifetime of Joseph and Hyrum. The beautiful city yet lives in the memory of many of the old-time Saints, and by them it is something more than a dream that the waste place will be rebuilt.
For similar reasons, with the additional favor cast by mention in the revelations, Independence is named, and by quite a large class, too, who favor making a bold effort to enter in and occupy and rebuild where once the Saints dwelt, as one might say, within the gates.
Against both of these places there are strong objections that may be urged. To Nauvoo it may be objected: there is but poor connection with the business world, there being no direct railway to the city; the Mississippi lies between it and the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railway, across which there has not been for some years an absolutely reliable transit. There is not much chance for new citizens to get homes, with labor or business to maintain themselves and families. There are no public works, and no enterprise,-there is no good opportunity for the procuring of farming lands, without buying, at high figures, already improved farms. There is almost nothing there to attract the Saints, and if the idea of its early settlement, and the possible prestige to be gained by its being again occupied by the people of God, are separated from that beautiful spot, it would be among the last places in the three states of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois that a half-way shrewd man would locate a business center, such as is contemplated in our work.
Independence, Missouri, is not open to so many and so serious objections as Nauvoo. It is inland, away from the river, but is bountifully watered. It lies amid the everlasting hills, and is also "beautiful for location." There is more room there for incomers; but for every home bought and made the settler would need to pay all it was worth to get it. The country is not so thickly settled as in Hancock County, Illinois, though the city itself lies but twelve miles from Kansas City, a town of fifty-five thousand inhabitants. The old town is dilapidated and worn, going to decay. The prestige of the place is about like that of Nauvoo, advantage, if for either, being with Independence. A direct command in regard to either place would at once remove all question and relieve all anxiety. In the absence of this, human wisdom must decide.
In the exercise of human wisdom men differ, some are wise, some wiser, some unwise. In this one question all are anxious, and but few decided. Those to whom the decision is left have agreed and chosen neither of the places named, but have selected Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa, as the place for the new location. The building in Plano has been sold, and active operations are begun to build suitable offices to receive the presses and fixtures of the publishing department; and a vigorous effort will be made to infuse new life and energy into all the affairs of that branch of the work. The employees of the office will remove with it and make homes among the Saints already assembled there. Efforts are already making for schools, and other public institutions. Let Zion flourish and spread abroad, shall be our motto in the new homes.
About this time Elder J. O. Stewart organized a branch at Silver Hill, Arkansas. June 7, 1881, the Arlington Branch, Ontario, was organized by Elder James A. McIntosh, with eleven members; Priest William Fields presiding.
On June 15 Elder J. W. Gillen wrote from Sydney, Australia. He gave some account of limited success in his past labors, and regarding his release said:
I see by the conference minutes that I am at liberty to return, and this seems to be upon the grounds that the church failed (for some cause) to fulfill a promise made to me at the time of my appointment to this mission. Now I do not feel that this lessens my responsibility to remain. I could not accept of a release upon any such conditions. When I am released I shall expect an honorable one, and that upon the grounds of having fulfilled the mission assigned me; and not because of the nonfulfillment of a promise made to me; neither do I consider my release a sufficient offset, in fact it is making matters worse, for instead of sending more laborers as promised, it is virtually saying to the one that is there, You can come home whenever you please, and leave the mission to take care of itself.
June 18 to 22, Elder P. N. Brix stopped in Plano, enroute for Denmark. About this time General A. W. Doniphan was interviewed and his statements regarding the Missouri troubles were published in the Kansas City Journal, from which the following extracts are made:
"I came to Missouri in 1830, and located in Lexington, where I lived until April, 1833, when I removed to Liberty, Clay County. The Mormons came to Jackson County in 1830, and I met Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, and Christian Whitmer, three of the elders, in Independence, during the spring of 1831. Peter Whitmer was a tailor and I employed him to make me a suit of clothes."
"What kind of people were the Mormons?"
"They were Northern people, who, on account of their declining to own slaves and their denunciation of the system of slavery, were termed 'Freesoilers.' The majority of them were intelligent, industrious, and law-abiding citizens, but there were some ignorant, simple-minded fanatics among them, whom the people said would steal. Soon after they came to Jackson County, they established a newspaper at Independence, called the Morning and Evening Star, edited by W. W. Phelps, in which they published their peculiar tenets and pretended revelations, in which they set forth that they had been sent to Jackson County by divine Providence, and that they, as a church were to possess the whole of the county, which then embraced what is now Jackson, Cass, and Bates Counties. These assumptions were evidently made use of for the purpose of exciting the jealousy of persons of other religious denominations and the more ignorant portions of the community. This of course caused hard feelings between them and the people of the county, but I think the real objections to the Mormons were their denunciation of slavery, and the objections slaveholders had to having so large a settlement of anti-slavery people in their midst, and also to their acquiring such a large amount of land, which then belonged to the Government, and subject to preëmption. From these and other causes a very bitter feeling was engendered between the Mormons and citizens, which culminated in the month of July, 1833, when a public meeting was held at the court-house in Independence, at which it was resolved to tear down the Mormon printing establishment, which resolve was immediately carried out. The mob also committed numerous other outrages, the most brutal of which was the tarring and feathering of Bishop Partridge. I can't positively state who were the leaders of the mob, but it was participated in by a large number of the leading citizens of the county. The Mormons made but little if any resistance, but submitted to the inevitable, and agreed not to establish another paper, and there was an apparent tranquility [tranquillity] existing until about the first of the following November, when, from imprudent conduct on both sides, both Mormons and Gentiles-the citizens were then called
by the Mormons-seemed to arm themselves as if expecting a collision., The first clash of arms took place at Wilson's store on the Big Blue, about four miles east of Westport, about the third or fourth of November, which resulted in several persons being killed upon both sides and several others wounded.
"In a few days after this the citizens organized and determined upon ejecting the Mormons from the county, which soon after was done. During the ejectment a great many outrages were perpetrated and the Mormons were compelled to leave almost everything they possessed behind them, and it was only by a hurried flight that they saved their lives. As it was, quite a number were killed upon both sides. The majority of the Mormons, after being driven from Jackson County, went to Clay County, where they were received and provided for as well as it was possible by the citizens. The Mormons remained in Clay County until 1836, in an unorganized community, when it was agreed between them and the citizens of Clay and Ray Counties that if they (the Mormons) would buy out a few inhabitants then inhabiting what is now Caldwell County, then a part of Ray County, the balance of the land being public, they could enter it at their leisure, and we would urge the Legislature to create a county for them, which was done at the session of the Legislature of 1836-7. . . . It has been said that in the treaty I made with the Mormons I stipulated that they must leave the State, under penalty of annihilation if they refused to do so. This is entirely untrue, as I made no stipulation. It is true, however, that in an order to me and other officers, Governor Boggs used the expression 'that the Mormons leave the State or be exterminated,' whereas this order was entirely illegal. I paid no attention to it. In my report to Governor Boggs I stated to him that I had disregarded that part of his order, as the age of extermination was over, and if I attempted to remove them to some other State it would cause additional trouble. The Mormons commenced immediately after this to move to Nauvoo, Illinois, and I know nothing further about them. While the Mormons resided in Clay County, they were a peaceable, sober, industrious and law-abiding people, and during their stay with us not one was ever accused of a crime of any kind."
The Kansas City Journal of June 5, also contained an interview with David Whitmer. Among other things Mr. Whitmer said:
"A few months after the translation was completed, that is in the spring of 1830, Joseph had the book published, and this (showing a well-worn volume) is a copy of the first edition, which I have had in my possession ever since it was printed."
"When did you see the plates?" .
"It was in the latter part of June, 1829. Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, and myself were together, and the angel showed them to us. We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon, but he also showed us the brass plates of the Book of Ether and many others. They were shown to us in
this way. Joseph and Oliver and I were sitting on a log when we were overshadowed by a light more glorious than that of the sun. In the midst of this light, but a few feet from us 'appeared a table upon which were many golden plates, also the sword of Laban and the directors. I saw them as plain as I see you now, and distinctly heard the voice of the Lord declaiming that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and the power of God."
"Who else saw the plates at this time?"
"No one. Martin Harris, the other witness, saw them the same day and the eight witnesses, Christian Whitmer, Hiram Page, Jacob Whitmer, Joseph Smith, Sr., Peter Whitmer, Jr., Hyrum Smith, John Whitmer, and Samuel H. Smith saw them next day."
"Did you see the angel?"
"Yes; he stood before us. Our testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon is absolutely true, just as it is written there."
"Can you describe the plates?"
"They appeared to be of gold, about six by nine inches in size, about as thick as parchment, a great many in number and bound together like the leaves of a book by massive rings passing through the back edges. The engraving upon them was very plain and of very curious appearance. Smith made facsimiles of some of the plates, and sent them by Martin Harris to Professors Anthon and Mitchell, of New York City, for examination. They pronounced the characters reformed Egyptian, but were unable to read them."
"Did Joseph Smith ever relate to you the circumstances of his finding the plates?"
"Yes; he told me that he first found the plates in the early spring of 1828; that during the fall of 1827 he had a vision, an angel appearing to him three times in one night and telling him that there was a record of an ancient people deposited in a hill near his father's. house, called by the ancients 'Cumorah,' 2 situated in the township of Manchester, Ontario County, New York. The angel pointed out the exact spot, and sometime after he went and found the records or plates deposited in a stone box in the hill, just as had been described to him by the angel. It was some little time, however, before the angel would allow Smith to remove the plates from their place of deposit."
2 These dates are probably typographical errors, as Joseph Smith both saw the vision and viewed the plates in September, 1823.