WILLIAM H. KELLEY's biography we are obliged to omit for the reason that up to the time of going to press we have not received the manuscript from him nor his authority to write it.
T. W. SMITH.
Thomas Wood Smith, son of Henry and Mary Ann Boyer Smith, was born on the 7th of March, 1838, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of five years he was sent to school; and having a fine, retentive memory, he made rapid progress. He attended the schools of Philadelphia about eight years.
In 1853 he joined the Independent Christian Church, of Philadelphia. This church was connected with what is known as the Christian Connection, or New Light; but as it did not belong to any conference of that body, it was called the Independent Christian Church.
He studied theology under a Mr. Wilson, who was pastor of the above-named church; but having an independent mind he did not agree entirely with his instructor nor with others with whom he had the privilege of communing.
At the age of nineteen he began to preach; but later hearing of the doctrine of the Disciples, or Christian Church, he became convinced that baptism for the remission of sins was a scriptural doctrine, but could not find any one whom he felt was authorized to baptize him. But finally after convincing a fellow minister by the name of Joseph S. Smith of
the correctness of his views, he was baptized by Mr. Smith. Subsequently he heard Elder Miles Grant and other leading ministers of the Adventist Church, and became a partial believer in the soul-sleeping theory, though he rejected some of the other cardinal points of the doctrine of the Adventists; hence could not identify himself with them.
On December 31, 1858, he was united in marriage to Miss Helen Marr Pierce. In 1861 he moved into Illinois. Here he continued his labors as a minister for some time, when he removed to Iowa, and was one of the organizers of what was known as the Iowa Association of the Church of God, for which he acted as secretary and state evangelist. While laboring in this capacity as an evangelist, he met Elders Jason W. Briggs and I. L. Rogers. They attended his meeting, and were led by what they heard to believe that he had imbibed much of the truth, and was honest in his presentation of his views; and as Elder Briggs expressed it, "Like Apollos, needed some one to show him the way of life more perfectly." So Elder Briggs assumed the role of Aquila and explained the word of God to him. He found in Mr. Smith a willing hearer though an able disputant. These friendly discussions led Mr. Smith to inquire of God, when he received light concerning the truth of the story that had been told him about the restored gospel. On March 13,1866, he relates that he heard a voice above him quoting the words, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ," etc. The voice said, "Have you received the Holy Ghost?" He answered, "I do not think that the Holy Ghost is given now." The voice answered, "The promise is to all that are called. Is there any body called to-day?" He replied, "God is calling people with the gospel." This conversation was continued at some length, and he became convinced not only that baptism was necessary by one holding authority, but that the promise of the Holy Ghost was extended to him as well as to others. He again inquired of Elder Briggs as to the authority which he held, and became satisfied that the authority was resident in the one with whom he was conversing; consequently, on the 14th day of March, 1866, he was baptized and ordained an elder by Elder Jason W. Briggs.
His wife soon followed him into the church and was ever an active and zealous member of the same. He had preached the night before his baptism in his capacity as an evangelist of the association to which he belonged; and the night after he preached as an elder of the church, continuing his meetings without interruption. At the April conference of the same year, he was ordained to the office of Seventy, which office he held for several years, during which he was a constant and zealous laborer in the ministry.
In the spring of 1873 he was called by revelation to the office of an apostle in the Quorum of Twelve; and on April 10, at the General Conference, he was ordained under the hands of Elder J. W. Briggs and others. His ministerial labor extended into the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western States, covering a majority of the states from ocean to ocean. In 1884 he extended his labors into the Pacific Ocean, going to the Society Islands, where he remained for some years. Thence to Australia, assisting Elder Joseph F. Burton and others in placing the church in a better condition, when he returned to the Islands and labored there until 1890. At the spring conference of 1890 he was assigned to the Pacific Slope Mission as associate minister in charge with Heman C. Smith. He remained in this field a part of the year, and moving eastward, stopped for a time in Colorado. Thence on to Missouri, where he located at Independence. In the spring of 1891, together with J. R. Lambert, he was placed in charge of Iowa and Missouri. They subsequently divided the field and Elder Smith had charge of Missouri.
On December 3, 1891, his wife died at Independence. She was the mother of four children, all of whom died while in childhood, none of them living to be more than nine years old. She contracted the disease that terminated her life while in the Society Islands exposed to hardship and fatigue, reviving some while in Australia, only to relapse when she returned to the Islands; and she came to America broken in health. It was thought that the climate of California might have the effect of restoring her to health, but in this she and her husband were disappointed. Seeking the climate of
Colorado with the same result, she finally succumbed to the disease, and died as related. Her husband said of her: "Never once in all my quarter of a century of ministerial labor in the church, has she ever hindered or sought to prevent me from doing any duty that my office required of me."
In the year 1892, he with others was appointed to the Australian Mission. While on his way to the Pacific Slope, there expecting to remain and labor while waiting for the condition of church finances to justify his going to his distant field, he arrived at Salt Lake City on July 9; and on Sunday the 10th preached two discourses in the chapel; and while returning to his place of lodging after the evening services, he was stricken down with paralysis. Elders A. H. Smith and Joseph Luff being in the city, waited upon him hourly; and though the doctor pronounced that he would not live more than twenty-four hours after the stroke, he partially recovered, sufficiently to be removed to his home at Independence. There he waited, hoping to be restored to health, and at sometimes feeling greatly encouraged because of his apparent improvement.
On December 4, 1892, he espoused Mrs. Sarah Lookabill, of Oakland, California. With her he had been corresponding previous to his affliction, and when stricken down she faithfully continued her devotion to him; and after their marriage demonstrated the genuineness of her affection by careful and tender care and attention to him.
On May 27, 1894, the end came; and he breathed his life away as peacefully as a child passes to slumber.
Soon after Elder Smith's ordination to the office of an apostle, he was made Secretary of the Quorum of Twelve, and his services in that position were performed with skill and accuracy, and the records show evidence of the jealous care bestowed upon them.
The Saints' Herald for June 6, 1894, contains the following account of his death and funeral, showing the respect in which he was held by those with whom he had spent the last days of his life:
"During his last illness he was attended almost constantly by Bro. Luff and a number of the local brethren and sisters,
and by excellent fortune or providence, Apostle H. C. Smith stopped off on his way southward to his field of labor, just in time to see our brother alive, and to receive a request from Sr. Smith to preach the funeral sermon, which request he effectually honored on the afternoon of Monday, the 28th.
"Never was clearer evidence of reverence and affection shown by the Saints of Independence towards one of their number. Early on Sunday morning the church-building was draped by willing and devoted hands, impelled by hearts that mourned the loss of a brother and minister beloved. The facing of the entire gallery was covered with the emblems of mourning, and tastily-arranged drapery covered the pulpit, the organ, the iron columns, and conspicuous places on the angles and flat surface of the walls, extending in beautiful designs into the alcove occupied by the choir and presenting a scene the most expressive and impressive in its way that we have ever witnessed. Over one hundred yards of material were employed in this work of appropriate decoration, and all day on Sunday the attendants at church were permitted to read in this artistic arrangement of pending fabrics the affection and esteem of the Saints for one whose voice was to be heard in their assemblings no more.
"At two o'clock in the afternoon on Monday the funeral services were conducted. Apostle Heman C. Smith was assisted by Apostle Joseph Luff and High Councilor John A. Robinson. The pall-bearers were selected with a view to representing the various positions in the priesthood as well as the membership. No one of the First Presidency or Seventy being available, those quorums were not represented. All of the pall-bearers occupied place upon the stand, ranged in order on either side of the speaker, in the following line of representation: Joseph Luff for the Apostles; John A. Robinson for the High Council and High Priests; Roderick May for the High Priests and the Bishopric, he being the Bishop's agent at Independence; John W. Brackenbury for the elders; George E. Ross for the priests; George Bartholemew for the teachers; John A. McGuire for the deacons; and Thomas James for the membership.
"The choir sang two beautiful and appropriate anthems. . . .Hymn No. 896 was sung as the closing hymn, it having been composed by Bro. Smith. The beautiful casket containing the body of our brother rested upon pedestals before the pulpit, and upon it and before it were arranged a few pretty and suggestive floral emblems. Seated upon the front seat, by the side of the sorrowing widow, was Bro. Alexander McCallum, who kindly acted as escort to her, and by her other side sat Ethel, the little girl adopted by Bro. Smith when in Australia and brought by him to America. Back of these and all around were surrounding Saints of all ages, who had gathered to pay a last tribute to the memory of one whom God had honored and blessed in life and taken to himself at death.
"The sermon was from the words found in Matthew 19:27-29, and consisted of a review of the life of Bro. Smith and a tribute to the many excellencies that adorned his life, as well as words of comfort to those now mourning his departure. It was a good effort and was well received. The funeral cortege was long, extending the length of three city blocks as it moved along. At the grave Bro. Luff offered a few remarks and then closed the services with prayer. The company waited until the grave was filled and then solemnly wended their way to the waiting vehicles in which they were borne back to the activities of life from which they had been called for a few hours to pay honor to the dead."
The last public ministration of Elder T. W. Smith was the offering of the opening prayer on the occasion of President Joseph Smith preaching a discourse in Independence a short time before Elder Smith's death.
James Caffall was born July 14,1825, in England. His childhood, youth, and early manhood were spent in his native land.
He embraced the gospel in December, 1845, and soon after became an active and zealous minister.
On June 5,1850, he was united in marriage with Miss Eliza Pratt, in London, England. Soon after their marriage they emigrated to America, first locating in St. Louis, Missouri, and thence removing to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1861.
He had not been long in that country until he became doubtful of the teachings of the authorities of the church in Utah. Availing himself of the opportunity of hearing the representatives of the Reorganization, he became convinced that the position occupied by them was correct, and that they were teaching the principles of truth as he had received them in his native land. He therefore united with the Reorganization in 1864, and in 1865 left Salt Lake City for the East. In 1866 he settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which has been his home ever since.
For about seven years he officiated as a local elder in the Council Bluffs Branch, and a part of the time as president of the Pottawattamie District. In April, 1873, he was named by revelation in connection with others for ordination to the Quorum of Twelve. This conditional promise was made at the time: "If these my servants will henceforth magnify their calling in honor before me, they shall become men of power and excellent wisdom in the assemblies of my people."
This promise has been remarkably fulfilled in the case of Elder James Caffall. From the time that he was called to this position until he was finally released from it, he was earnest, faithful, diligent, and careful in his administration; and many can testify who have had the benefit of his ministrations that he has been a man of "power and excellent wisdom."
His missionary work has been principally in the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, and the Dakotas.
In 1894 he was assigned in charge of the European Mission, and shortly after took his departure for that field, where he labored with the same zeal and energy that had characterized his work in America.. He continued in that field for three years; and notwithstanding his advanced age he probably did as much and as arduous work as any missionary the church has had in that field.
The writer of this sketch succeeded him in that field, and can testify by being actually upon the ground and having opportunity to know his work and its effect, that he was almost universally beloved by the Saints, and his work was of a permanent character. None who regarded his advice and counsel had any reason to regret it.
Returning to America in 1897 he continued his ministerial work; and in the amount of work performed was not surpassed by men who are many years his junior.
In 1902 he was removed from the Quorum of Twelve in harmony with a vision seen by the President of the church and accepted by the church as divine guidance. By the terms of this vision he was assigned to a position in the evangelical ministry, but this he did not accept; and in the General Conference of that year presented the following document as his reasons for declining:
"To President and Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Greeting: After mature consideration of the contents of the document now before the body, I very respectfully offer the following statements: First. Said document is descriptive of a vision seen by President Joseph Smith without one line of authorization to ordain and set apart those men he claims to have seen or that passed before him in vision, in the several positions named. I, therefore, however strong the implication may appear that I was by ordination to be placed among the patriarchs, or fill the position of a patriarch, wish to respectfully decline; for, though the description of the vision is put in no uncertain sound, there is a deathlike silence through the entire document so far as a command to ordain this or these my servants, etc., is concerned.
"Second. My present position was authorized in the year 1873 through President Joseph Smith, section 117: 4, Doctrine and Covenants. I accepted, and the good Lord by the Holy Spirit bore evidence to my soul, and by virtue of this evidence from that time until now I have been testifying to the people wherever sent of having set to my seal that God is true.
"Third. My having been seen by President Smith in vision
among the patriarchs is to the President an implication that I should vacate my present position, and be ordained to the office of patriarch, but the command to ordain is not found in any part of the document. I therefore think my acceptation [accepting] of such an ordination without a command were tantamount to a denial as to the validity of a former ordination to my present position; yet, in the event of the body indorsing [endorsing] the document I shall consider myself prohibited from further action with the Quorum of Twelve, but shall not consider myself shorn of the power and authority conferred upon me as above. For as I understand removal from office is only legitimate when done for a legitimate cause.
"Fourth. I have conceded that my labors have been meager the last two years in comparison to former years, but I am not aware that the work has suffered thereby; and should I in the near future have found myself incompetent, I should not have been slow to have reported it, as I cherish not a remote wish that individuals or societies should suffer through my incompetency.
"As to the motive prompting my release, I have nothing to say.
"Fifth. So far as I am acquainted with the duties of a patriarch, my acceptance thereof would in no way lessen the anxiety felt in present position save, perhaps, to lessen the traveling; moreover, I am not prepared to indorse [endorse] the Bishop's position touching consecration, etc.
"Sixth. Not wishing to be tedious, these are some of my reasons respectfully offered for failing to indorse [endorse] the changes so far as suggested or implied in the vision. And while I much regret being brought to the parting roads, I shall submit, and in the event of the body's indorsement [endorsement] of the document, I shall think my labors as a representative of the church ended.
"I might add, however, that I do not consider myself adapted for the work required of a patriarch.
"Very respectfully and in bonds,
Notwithstanding his thus declining to act in harmony with the expressed opinion of the body, he is still held in high
regard by the membership of the church generally, and none, so far as we know have ever questioned the integrity or honesty of his convictions in this matter.
He still labors in the ministry to the extent of his physical ability; and his confidence in the truth as he received it so many years ago in his native land, has not in the least abated.
His wife who has been the faithful companion of his life, still lives; and together they are spending their old age in their home in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Six daughters have been born to them. Two they buried when babes in St. Louis, Missouri. The four remaining are: Mrs. George C. Milgate, of Folsom, California; Mrs. Thomas Daly, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, widow of the late Thomas Daly, of California, for many years a missionary on the Pacific Slope; Mrs. James D. Stuart, of Magnolia, Iowa; and Mrs. Arthur E. Dempsey, of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN H. LAKE.
My father, Nicholas Lake, and mother, Oracy Lamb, were married October 9, 1809, in Yates County, New York. They had eleven children born to them, three daughters and eight sons. I was the seventh son, born December 4, 1829, in Yates County, New York. In 1832 my parents moved to Canada, and settled in the township of Mariposa, Victoria County; and in February 1854, I was married to Miss Mary Jane Low, by a Bible Christian minister. In about three months after we were married, my wife was smitten with abscess, or hip disease, and lost the use of her limb. We had commenced housekeeping, but her parents, Charles and Tamer Low, came to me and asked me to allow them to take their daughter and they would keep her while she should live. I consented and my home was broken up. I had free liberty to visit my wife whenever I wished to do so. But my future hopes were blighted. I did the best I could working at carpentering. When I was not at work I made my home with my parents.
In the winter of 1855 and 1856 my wife's father made a
visit to Illinois. He had a brother-in-law, Samuel Marsh, living near Shabbona Grove, in Dekalb County; and while there he bought a farm on condition that I would consent to let them take my wife, their daughter, to Illinois. At that time this seemed a great journey; but I consented. So in the spring of 1856 they moved to Illinois. They started the last of February, and I followed the first of April of the same year.
I worked that spring and summer at carpentering. In December, a young man, Philip Kelsey, came from Canada to where I was in Illinois. We were well acquainted. He had a brother living at String Prairie, Lee County, Iowa, and he was anxious to see him; so he invited me to go with him. I well remember when we were going from Burlington, Iowa, to Montrose in the stage, we came in sight of Nauvoo. There were three of the columns of the temple to be seen. I thought it was a strange affair. But I knew nothing of the Mormons and cared less; so it did not affect me, only as one of the delusions (so I supposed it to be). We walked from Montrose to String Prairie, where we found Mr. John Kelsey.
While there we learned that there was a big job of cutting wood, getting out ties and timber, on the Des Moines River, near a place called Belfast. We went there and agreed to cut wood for one dollar a cord. We built us a shanty and boarded ourselves, Philip Kelsey and I. We cut seventy-five cords in the spring of 1857. The foreman of the job, Mr. William Beach, left to become foreman of a coal mine. But he recommended Kelsey and me to the proprietor, Mr. Redington, living in Keokuk, Iowa, as competent to manage the job. He sent for us and we went to see the gentlemen. We took the contract to cut into wood, or ties, or timber, or have it done, all that was left on the three hundred acres, and deliver it.
During that summer I learned of the death of my wife in Illinois. We went on with our business, just getting money enough at the end of each month to pay expenses, leaving the rest with the proprietor, thinking that when we go through we would have something to start ourselves
in business. But in the winter of 1858, Mr. Redington, the proprietor, failed, and we owed the men we had hired one hundred fifty dollars, which we had to pay the best we could. All we had made was in Mr. Redington's hands, who took the benefit of bankrupt law.
In November, 1858, I was married to Miss Maryette Griffith. We left Iowa and went to Missouri, and commenced keeping house in Etna, Scotland County, Missouri, and I worked at carpentering.
The spring of 1860 my wife's father, Duty Griffith, was living with us. His wife was dead, and he had been living with his son. Up to this date I had never made any profession of religion, though I had been raised by religious parents. Father and his folks were Methodists; and mother's people were of the Baptist faith. Mother was baptized in New York State when she was a young lady. But I never heard any system of religion that suited me, and never expected to do so. I did not know what kind of religion I wanted. But I knew what I had heard did not suit me. I had been so foolish as to say I expected to live and die dancing; it was good enough a religion for me. I was bound to have a good time in this life, and leave the result with the power that ruled the future.
In 1860, Duty Griffith, my father-in-law, received a copy of the True Latter Day Saints' Herald, containing an account of the conference at Amboy, Illinois, and that Joseph Smith had presented himself and been accepted as president of the church. He never knew who sent it, but supposed it was Bro. Sheen, the editor. When that was read by Bro. Griffith, he began to show what his religious belief was; and as I have since said, he was like a match when a coal of fire touches it, it would blaze. He said he knew it had been said that little Joseph would take his father's place, but when was the question.
Now came my peculiar experience. I awoke to the fact that I was living with a Mormon wife, and did not know it. The burned temple, the desolated city of Nauvoo, the people having been driven out, walking the water on a plank,
receiving revelation out of a hollow tree, polygamy, and oh! a host of like stories, came up before the vision of my mind. I will leave the reader to imagine my feelings, for I thought I had made the mistake of my life. And the idea of my living with a woman that I then thought had been taught to believe polygamy was virtuous! But what could I do and what must I do, were the questions for me to decide. Had I had money I could have soon decided. I would have taken my wife and gone to California or some other part of the earth where no one would have known the facts in the case, and you may be assured there would have been one woman who would keep her mouth shut. But I was so blessed poor that I could not settle the question that way. Then it came to my mind to go myself to California; and I thought if it came to my folks that I had done such an act as that, then I would tell them how I had deceived myself; for I could not say that my wife had deceived me, for religion had never been mentioned by either of us. But our oldest child Oracy was an infant babe; and I could not get my heart hard enough to leave mother and child, so I remained. What next was I to do? I got the idea, go to work and investigate the matter and expose it, and show to the neighbors and friends that I would have nothing to do with such foolishness.
So I commenced the task and continued for about six months, when the truth whipped me and I yielded like a little man. On the 13th of December, 1860, I, with nine others, was baptized by Elder John Shippy, near Etna, Scotland County, Missouri. A branch was organized that evening after we were confirmed. I was ordained to the office of deacon, and was chosen clerk of the branch.
We did not remain there long. In March of 1861 we moved to String Prairie, Iowa, and united with the String Prairie Branch.
June 12, 1863, I was ordained to the office of elder, and the conference at which I was ordained appointed me president of the branch in the city of Keokuk. On the third Sunday of June I went to take charge of the branch. I made my first effort to speak; and when the meeting was opened
in due form I read a chapter in the Bible where Paul speaks of times and seasons. I intended to say something on the coming of Christ. The Spirit rested on me, and I talked about twenty minutes.
I was president of the branch but three months, or until the next conference, when I was released from that duty. I next started to go on a mission to St. Louis; but I learned that was not required of me then. I went to Hannibal, Missouri, to take charge of that district. When I got to Hannibal I was made welcome by Bro. John Taylor. I got there on Saturday night, and on Sunday Bro. Taylor called on me to speak. I felt oppressed. I told Bro. Taylor there was something wrong; but he would not hear to it. But on Monday I sought for wisdom of the Lord, and to my satisfaction I received what I should do. When I told Bro. Taylor, he questioned the Spirit, but when we were talking he received the witness that it was right for me to return home.
I served as president of the String Prairie and Nauvoo District for a number of years.
I was ordained to the office of seventy, April 10, 1871, at Plano, Illinois.
In 1873 I was ordained to the office of apostle at Plano, Illinois.
In 1875 we moved from Vincennes, Lee County, Iowa, to Farmington, Van Buren County, Iowa; and on the 27th of February, 1877, my second wife died. We had seven children born to us. Three had died when young, and four were living. The two older were quite young women; and the youngest was four years and seven months old.
For some years I had been devoting all my time to the ministry in Iowa and Missouri, and had been to Canada on two or three missions. Now the question was, What must I do? The two older children said, You must stop preaching and get work here in town, so you can be with us at nights, or you will have to get some one to stop with us; so in March, 1878, I married Sr. Mary Huggins. She lived near Burnside, Hancock County, Illinois. We were married by Bro. Walter Head. priest. On the 9th of September of the
same year my wife died. I then broke up home. The two older girls began to care for themselves. The oldest was teaching school. She began teaching when she was sixteen years old. In the fall of 1878 she contracted for a school, and while making arrangements for her board, she remained all night and slept in a bed that had not been aired for some time and took cold, and it affected her so she had to quit her school, and she died in June, 1879.
Our children are all now dead but Charles H., now living at Somerville, Boston, Massachusetts.
Mid all these scenes of confusion, I have kept up my gospel warfare, serving the Lord and his church.
On the 10th of April, 1887, I was married to Mrs. Martha G. Woods, of Pittsburg [Pittsburgh], Pennsylvania, at the General Conference, by Apostle William H. Kelley, in the presence of the conference.
I did not keep the dates so I can not write as well as I would like. It has been a life through the sea of sadness; but as I look back over my life I am led to say as the poet said,
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform."
But as Professor Fowler said to me in 1882, "Sir, if your religion is known, you never found a human creed that ever suited you, nor you never will. You have been so secular in your religious views, you have been considered an odd sheep among your fellow mortals, and you always will be."
I am in the hands of Him that judges the heart, not from the sight of the eyes, but in righteousness.
Note by the Historian.-Since the above was written, two or three years ago, Elder Lake was constantly in the field as a missionary, having charge of Michigan and Indiana, until the annual conference of 1902, when he was removed from the Quorum of Twelve and ordained an evangelical minister. In this capacity he has since been operating in Canada, which is his present appointment.
He is just now (May, 1903,) recovering from a severe attack of pneumonia, at his home in Kirtland, Ohio.
ZENAS H. GURLEY.
We are under the necessity of omitting the biography of Z. H. Gurley. We solicited him to write it but he declined to do so, expressing his wish that his name should occur only incidentally in connection with events in the body of the work.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOSEPH R. LAMBERT.
I am the second child of Richard and Jane Lambert, born in Rock Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois, October 4, 1845. The place of my birth is located about nine or ten miles southeast of the celebrated city of Nauvoo.
My parents were born in England, received the gospel there, and because of their faith and hope, came to America-father in 1840, at the age of eighteen, mother in 1841, at the age of sixteen. They were married on April 10, 1843. As a result of this union fifteen children were born unto them, twelve of whom are yet living, six boys and six girls.
My parents uniformly testified that there was much corruption in the church at Nauvoo, but that "exposers of Mormonism," so called, misrepresent and falsify the events of those times, rendering their works unreliable. I have also heard them say, at different times, and to different persons, that while at Nauvoo, they perceived a soundness and spirituality connected with the preaching of Joseph Smith, the Seer, that did not characterize the preaching of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others. However they claimed (especially mother) that Young, Kimball, Hyde, and Fielding, were humble, God-fearing men when they did their first missionary work in England.
I was a puny, frail child, and mother was frequently told that she could never raise me.
My parents did not follow the fortunes of Brigham Young and company; they were permitted to remain at their humble home without any compromise with the enemies of the Saints. Having had their confidence greatly shaken in those whom they had trusted as servants of God, they gradually drifted into the world. The result of this was that, we older
children were not taught religion in any form (as religion is usually understood), neither by precept nor example. We were, however, taught to be honest, just, truthful, industrious, etc.
As I grew up, I became skeptical about the Christian religion; though in my reflective and meditative moods, I always reached this conclusion: "There is a God, or Supreme Being; it is probable that there is a future state; and it may be that we are responsible to God for our deeds in this life ."
When I heard the elders of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in 1860, and afterwards, it was a new light to me. I began to believe at once, though it was some time before the necessity of obedience came to me with the force of a strong conviction, which occurred under the preaching of Elder John A. McIntosh, of Shelby County, Iowa. After some investigation, thought, and earnest prayer, I was baptized at Nauvoo, Illinois, November 5, 1863, by Elder James Burgess.
Was ordained to the office of teacher December 8, 1866, Z. H. Gurley, Sr., being spokesman. Held this office for more than four years. I then thought, "Right here, in this office, is my life work. If I can fill it as it should be filled, I will have great reason to be thankful." It did not seem possible that I could ever fill a higher office; and I was then, as I am now, afraid of a spirit of ambition and aspiration.
A portion of the years 1868 and 1869 found me unfaithful in my office and membership, but with no thought of abandoning the work. The Rock Creek Branch, of which I was a member, had almost gone to pieces. No meetings were being held, and there was general dissatisfaction with the presiding elder; not as a man, but with his official work.
My brother, D. F. Lambert, nearly five years younger than I, had obeyed the gospel in 1864; and although but thirteen years of age, he was very faithful, and soon became a leading worker in the branch. When I was the most careless and worldly, he seemed to be the most faithful and prayerful, and this had much to do with bringing me to realize that it was foolish and wrong for me to fritter away precious
opportunities, or suffer myself to partake of the spirit of the world.
When fully awakened to my condition, I discovered what I had lost, and that I would have to work hard and long to regain it.
In the summer of 1869, while at work in the field, I was strongly impressed by the Holy Spirit to go and see the president of the branch, and if possible, get him to appoint a meeting in order to see what could be done to revive the branch. It was a success. I went at exactly the right time. The branch was soon in running order again, though some of us had to bear the grave charge of having a wicked ambition to lead, before this desirable condition was reached. However, the old brother who made this charge (against my brother and me, in particular), lived to see and acknowledge his wrong; and his confidence in us, from that time to the day of his death, was unwavering. In the fall of 1869 I was strongly impressed to take all I had saved from my earnings since I reached my majority and go to school at Ft. Madison (Iowa) Academy.
I had no definite object in this, except to acquire more education; but go to school I must, or sin against my own conscience. My age was twenty-four, but my education was very limited indeed.
I attended school about thirteen months, in 1869 and 1870.
On January 26, 1870, I was ordained to the office of priest, by Bro. Henry F. Pitt. I held this office but for a little while. It was revealed to me, as I thought, that I was about to be called to the eldership; but although I was very intimate with my brother, before referred to, I did not even tell him anything about it. I reasoned like this: "If the Lord has revealed this, he will take care of it without any effort on my part, except prayer and right living; and if he is not the author of this revelation, I do not want to be ordained as a result of it."
It was brought about in a couple of months or so, in a way that was satisfactory to all concerned, so far as I know, and on the 4th day of September, 1870, at a district conference,
held at Keokuk, Iowa, I was ordained an elder by Bro. John H. Lake.
It seems that I was now to learn more fully than I had ever learned before, that every advance step taken would be disputed and stubbornly opposed by the invisible powers of darkness. In a short time after my ordination, I attempted to preach, but failed. From time to time I tried it again, until I had failed five or six times in succession. What was I to do? I felt sure that I had been properly called and ordained; and when studying the word, I enjoyed a degree of light; but scarcely would I be on my feet to speak before the power of an opposing enemy was felt. It would gradually increase until I felt compelled to sink back into my seat. I remained quiet for some time, waiting, and watching, and praying for another opportunity to overcome. For the time being, I was overcome, but not vanquished.
About this time, or soon after, Mr. A. W. Head, then an outsider, and quite skeptical concerning some of our claims, entered into conversation with Bro. H. F. Pitt. Bro. Pitt contended that the faithful preacher is helped by the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the word. Mr. Head denied; and in order to emphasize his position, he said substantially the following:
"Now, there is Dan Lambert, he can preach, because he is smart; but there is Jo who will never make a preacher as long as the world lasts!"
Sometime after this, while I was talking about the gospel, in the Lincoln Schoolhouse, Mr. Head was one of the congregation. I enjoyed liberty, and while speaking, I noticed the tears trickling down his face. At the close of the service he asked for baptism, and I baptized him. He is now an elder, living at Stewartsville, Missouri. He works and prays for the advancement of the cause, and loves to depend upon God for the help of the divine Spirit.
In the summer of 1871 I taught a short term of school at the Lincoln Schoolhouse, in Rock Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois. In the summer of 1872, I taught again at the same place. I liked teaching, and concluded to make it my life work.
In the fall of 1872, my brother Daniel and I were canvassing for "Bunyan's Complete Works," in one volume. Some distance from where I had taught school, I was urged to accept a six months term at forty-five dollars per month. I needed the money badly, and I liked to teach, but still I hesitated to accept the offer, thinking it might be my duty to spend the winter in preaching in the district, after I had earned my clothes. I delayed my final conclusion for several days, meanwhile making it a subject of earnest prayer. I had to decide to spend the winter in ministerial labor in order to do justice to my conscience, though I must confess that, for a time, it was somewhat of a trial to me. I had felt the sting of poverty, and now I desired to do something for myself financially.
My brother Daniel and I launched out on our first missionary voyage, on January 7, 1873, and returned home on February 26. We preached and labored at Burlington, Montrose, and Keokuk, Iowa, and at different places in the vicinity of Elvaston and Burnside, Illinois. We met with the usual opposition from without, and discouragements from within; but made many friends to ourselves and the cause. We were blessed and tried, and, through the goodness of God, were successful in our labors.
We were inexperienced, plainly clad farmer boys, neither of us possessing any such ornamental luxury as a white shirt. We furnished our own clothes, and when car fare was not furnished, we walked.
The closing portion of the winter of 1873 was spent in manual labor, making my home at father's and preaching at various places as my circumstances would permit. At this time I was squarely confronted with another grave question: "Is it my duty to spend my whole time in the ministry, or shall I support myself, and labor as my circumstances permit?" Almost daily I presented this question to God in prayer. My experience was very strange to me.
When I mentioned the matter to the Lord, he quickly responded by the peace and blessing of the Holy Spirit, but nothing was revealed, by impression or otherwise. I marveled at this, but finally concluded that the bestowment of
the Spirit simply meant that God was pleased with the asking, but it was not his will that I should spend my whole time in the ministry. So I made arrangements to earn my clothes (and I hoped something more) during the hot months of summer, and spend my time preaching in the winter.
In March, I attended the district conference at Montrose, Iowa. A car was chartered for the purpose of attending the General Conference, to be held at Plano, Illinois, in April; and as I had never been there and the round trip only cost five dollars, I concluded to go. At this time President Joseph Smith was residing at Plano, editing the Saints' Herald or what was then entitled The True Latter Day Saints' Herald.
The conference at Plano, convened on Sunday. On Tuesday I was asked by Bro. John H. Lake, who had been deputized by the First Quorum of Seventy (of which he was then a member), if I would accept ordination and membership in the Quorum of Seventy. I replied that I would try to furnish him with a definite answer on the morrow, but could not see that I could accomplish more as a seventy than an elder, unless I had evidence that God wanted me to occupy in that position. To this Bro. Lake responded:
"That is right; but the quorum desired me to speak to you and see how you felt about it."
At my first opportunity I presented the matter to the Lord in secret prayer, when all at once I was fairly enveloped with the Spirit, but not a thing was revealed; so I concluded to say "no, I can not accept."
On Wednesday morning the revelation was read, in which myself, with a number of others, were called into the Quorum of Twelve. This revelation was given on March 3, 1873, and in all the late editions of the Doctrine and Covenants is section 117.
All was plain now. The law defining the duties of an apostle in the Quorum of Twelve, showed that it was my duty to give my life to the work of the ministry. God does not do that which is superfluous. He gave me his Spirit when I prayed, took me to conference, gave me a testimony of the divinity of the revelation before my name was read,
but kept me waiting till the revelation was read for a complete answer to my prayer.
Many rejoiced; but while I felt glad to be thus acknowledged of God, I never before had felt so little and so solemn. Indeed, the weight of responsibility, as I felt it then, burdened me heavily, and produced a strong tinge of sadness in my soul.
On April 10 the men named in the revelation for various positions were ordained. In my very brief diary for that date, I find the following jotted down in shorthand:
"After some little business was transacted, the ordinations were attended to. It was truly a solemn time. Men of humility, desiring no position, and willing to work wherever placed, called by the great God to fill such high positions! I never felt so solemn in all my life."
Bro. Joseph Smith was spokesman when I was ordained; and after going through the formula of ordination in a very impressive manner, he enjoyed the gift of prophecy. I remember distinctly much of what he said, and a portion of it I recorded in my diary, at the time. He spoke about as follows:
"Joseph, as you have gone forth and made many friends, both for yourself and the cause, so, if faithful, you will continue to do. But not all above your head shall be sunshine. Dark and heavy clouds shall draw near and threaten your destruction."
The following I take from my diary:
"As thy heart's desire has been to do good, thou shalt become a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. The blessing of the Almighty, and his counsel, shall be thine. Be not fearful, although thou shalt not always walk in sunshine, and thy feet shall almost go down; but thy God shall keep thee. There are influences at work which may harm thee, but if thou art faithful, thou shalt be kept."
At this conference I was appointed to labor in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri.
There is one paragraph in the revelation which called us to office which has ever been (to me) both instructive and encouraging. Instructive, because it enjoins a straightforward,
humble, and constant effort to be faithful in the office to which we were called. Encouraging, because of the precious promise made. It reads as follows:
"Verily, I say unto you, if these my servants will henceforth magnify their calling in honor before me, they shall become men of power and excellent wisdom in the assemblies of my people."
On December 11, 1873, I was united in marriage with Mrs. Anna E. Phelps. Her maiden name was Chambers, she, at the time of our marriage, being a widow with one child. Her parents were what is called "Pennsylvania Dutch," and were members of the Dunkard Church. I had baptized Mrs. Phelps in May, but was very slightly acquainted with her at the time.
When, in the month of June, I felt that my affections were being drawn out towards this woman, I resisted it with all the power at my command, but was not successful. I began to pray earnestly that I might overcome what I then regarded as simply a weakness. Why should I marry, having neither money, property, nor good health? And even if I should think to marry, I had no reason to believe that this woman desired to marry any one, much less me.
I continued to pray, but felt humiliated and alarmed at my failure to overcome my feelings. One day, while struggling in prayer, in the woods, near to the home of Bro. William Wallace (about twelve miles south of where I was born), asking only for power to overcome, all at once, the Spirit said to me:
"She is thy companion and wife."
For a few moments I was unable to stand on my feet. I rejoiced and wept, and yet I was not fully what God wished me to be. I loved the woman with a pure love; God had spoken to me, and yet there was a degree of pride in my heart. I had felt from the time I merged into manhood, that if I ever married, I would not marry a widow. I had even said so to a few. It seemed to me to be a very improper thing for a young man who had never been married to do. So I determined to go slow and not be deceived,
even by revelation. I returned home without saying anything to Mrs. Phelps.
My health was giving way. I had a very bad spell of sickness in the fall of 1872, and by many my life was despaired of. This sickness left me in a worse physical condition than I had been in before, and after my return from Bear Creek, where Mrs. Phelps lived, I gradually grew worse and felt much discouraged. One day, after some serious meditation, the reproof of God's Spirit suddenly took hold of me and said:
"If you do not act promptly in this matter, you will be left under condemnation and will lose a precious blessing." I said in my heart, "I will act at once." And although nearly down sick, I asked for pen and paper, and wrote a letter to Mrs. Phelps at once. I found no difficulty in wording my letter in a suitable manner, but of course I did not hint at or mention my experience.
In a few days I was better, and I started off in a different direction from Bear Creek, and away from the post-office. It was twenty days after writing the letter before I heard from it, and even then I did not see the letter, but met Mrs. Phelps, had a good talk, and soon learned that the way had been properly prepared.
All this may be worthless to some, but to me it shows not only the care God has for his work, but his wonderful condescension to his servants and people. Our experience as husband and wife has been one of joy and sorrow, but I felt sure that I knew God had spoken to me and pointed out the one who should share my joys and trials in life, and who should be the mother of my children; and up to this time, after twenty nine years of companionship as husband and wife, I still know that God, who knew me, and knew her, chose as none other can. Yes, I know it better now than I did then. To the efforts of this woman as wife and mother-her love, virtue, industry, carefulness, watchfulness, economy, integrity, good management and willingness to sacrifice for the spread of the gospel, I am largely indebted for the degree of success attained. Two of five children are yet spared to us, Richard J. and Maude M. (now Mrs. Arthur H. Mills, of Independence, Missouri).
Three lie in Rose Hill cemetery, at Lamoni, Iowa.
The following extracts from letters received from my wife while I was in the missionary field, will serve to show, to a slight extent, some of the trials to be encountered by a missionary's wife with the anxiety and care of the children all resting upon herself, in very poor health, some of the children sick, all her work and everything else about the place to see to, and last, but not least, a goodly number of "Job's comforters" to cheer her with such statements as these: "I don't see how you stand it to have your husband gone so much. We think so much of each other that I just could not stand it."
"DOW CITY, Iowa, June 21, 1882.
"Bro. Smith preached last night, and started on his way this morning. I went and took the children, and it was very bad on me-together with but little sleep all the rest of the night. It stormed-thundered and lightened-so that I could not sleep. I was so lonesome! I took little Maude in my arms, and sat close by the little boys, and centered my mind upon God, in the dead hour of the night. I thought of you, and of Nettie; and all that I could do was to commend you and her, with us, into his hands; and before long I had the assurance of the Spirit that we would be protected. What a blessed support this is to us in times of such need! Oh, were it not for this, I could never stay alone as I do."
"LAMONI, Iowa, June 13, 1883.
"My dear, you say you will say nothing of your own trials, now. I am sorry you can not say anything to me, for if I could not tell of my trials, I would feel bad indeed. So, I know you must feel bad no one else to tell them to in this wide world! My experience is if I undertake to tell any one of my troubles that they just begin to tell theirs, and I have to stop and let them tell theirs, and they don't hear me."
Since the time I was called into the Quorum of Twelve, I have made a constant effort to magnify my calling and discharge the duties of the office to which I was ordained. The prophecy which was made over my head has been a blessing
to me, and in trial and blessing has received such a literal and exact fulfillment as pen or tongue can not describe. I have been comforted and encouraged, also reproved and corrected by this word of prophecy.
When physically able, I have been almost constantly in the field, as a missionary, having traveled and preached, more or less, and had charge, in the following territory:
Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia, my charge sometimes extending into other States where I did no preaching.
"What is Man?" "Objections to the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants Answered and Refuted," together with a tract on the nature of man, and his consciousness after death, are little works which bear my name as author. Have also written more or less for the Saints' Herald and other publications.
Like others, I have engaged in controversy, at times, and believe I have had my share of it, in the church at least. My positions and policies must, of course, take their chances, and I am quite willing they should do so. So far, the vindication of time has been satisfactory to me, and I await further developments for still further vindication, or correction, as the Master wills.
Of late years I have been kept from active duty in the ministerial field, because of poor health; but my interest and faith in the great latter-day work has gradually increased. I am willing, nay, anxious, that my humble testimony to its truth and divinity, should go to all who know me, as well as to those who know me not. The work is just what it claims to be, and all that it claims to be, in the three sacred books of the church, namely, the Bible, Book of Mormon, and book of Doctrine and Covenants.
In April, 1902, I was (with others) ordained to the office of evangelical minister, or patriarch, Bro. F. G. Pitt being spokesman. It was made known to me that I was going out of the Quorum of Twelve, some time before the conference convened, but I supposed I would be enrolled and numbered with the high priests, to which I had no objections whatever.
However, through prayer and meditation, I became fully satisfied that I ought to accept the office of patriarch.
Since my ordination, I have been trying to learn my duty and perform it. The light, confirmation, and help of God's Spirit, which have come to me from time to time, have been satisfactory. No better confirmation have I received in any position previously held in the church. In this calling I find another strong evidence of the wondrous and far-reaching provisions of the divine plan; and that God has indeed restored the gospel to the people, through Joseph the Seer, in its completeness.