The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt – Revised and Enhanced Edition
Edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor
An army – A long march - Recruits – A voice – Camp arrives in Missouri - Delegation to the governor – Interview – Return to camp – Council - Great storm and flood - Battle providentially prevented – Cholera – Army disbanded – Sudden destruction – Labor with my hands - Journey to Ohio – Labor and ministry – Accusations – Repair to Kirtland – Interview with the President – His action on the matter – Calling and ordination of a Quorum of Twelve Apostles - My ordination, blessing and charge - Charge to the Quorum.
May 1, 1834-February 21, 1835
It was now the first of May, 1834, and our mission had resulted in the assembling of about two hundred men at Kirtland, with teams, baggage, provisions, arms, etc., for a march of one thousand miles, for the purpose of carrying some supplies to the afflicted and persecuted Saints in Missouri, and to reinforce and strengthen them; and, if possible, to influence the Governor of the State to call out sufficient additional force to cooperate in restoring them to their rights.1
I was chiefly engaged as a recruiting officer, and, not being much with the camp, can give but little of its history.4 I visited branches of the Church in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, and obtaining what men and means I could, fell in with the camp from time to time with additional men, arms, stores and money.
On one occasion, I had travelled all night to overtake the camp with some men and means, and having breakfasted with them and changed horses, I again started ahead on express to visit other branches, and do business to again overtake them. At noon I had turned my horse loose from the carriage to feed on the grass in the midst of a broad, level plain. No habitation was near; stillness and repose reigned around me; I sank down overpowered with a deep sleep, and might have lain in a state of oblivion till the shades of night had gathered about me, so completely was I exhausted for want of sleep and rest; but I had only slept a few moments till the horse had grazed sufficiently, when a voice, more loud and shrill than I have ever before heard, fell on my ear, and thrilled through every part of my system; it said: “Parley, it is time to be up and on your journey.”
In the twinkling of an eye I was perfectly aroused; I sprang to my feet so suddenly that I could not at first recollect where I was, or what was before me to perform. I related the circumstance afterwards to brother Joseph Smith, and he bore testimony that it was the angel of the Lord who went before the camp, who found me overpowered with sleep, and thus awoke me.
Arriving in the Allred settlement, near Salt River, Missouri, where there was a large branch of the Church, the camp rested a little, and despatched Elder Orson Hyde and myself to Jefferson City, to request of His Excellency, Governor Daniel Dunklin, a sufficient military force, with orders to reinstate the exiles, and protect them in the possession of their homes in Jackson County.5
We had an interview with the Governor, who readily acknowledged the justice of the demand, but frankly told us he dare not attempt the execution of the laws in that respect, for fear of deluging the whole country in civil war and bloodshed. He advised us to relinquish our rights, for the sake of peace, and to sell our lands from which we had been driven.
To this we replied with firmness, that we would hold no terms with land pirates and murderers. If we could not be permitted to live on lands which we had purchased of the United States, and be protected in our persons and rights, our lands would, at least, make a good burying ground, on which to lay our bones; and, like Abraham’s possession in Canaan, we should hold on to our possessions in the county of Jackson, for this purpose, at least.
He replied that he did not blame us in the least, but trembled for the country, and dare not carry out the plain, acknowledged and imperative duties of his office. We retired, saying to ourselves: “That poor coward ought, in duty, to resign; he owes this, morally at least, in justice to his oath of office.”
We returned to the camp, which was then on the march, somewhere below the county of Ray. President Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, L. Wight and others, repaired with us into a solitary grove, apart, to learn the result of our mission.6
After hearing our report, the President called on the God of our fathers to witness the justice of our cause and the sincerity of our vows, which we engaged to fulfill, whether in this life or in the life to come. For, as God lives, truth, justice and innocence shall triumph, and iniquity shall not reign.
Pursuing our journey, we arrived at Fishing River, Ray County, and encamped for the night on a hill between its forks. This stream was then about six inches deep in each of its branches where the road crossed it. We had but just camped, when there arose such a storm as has been seldom witnessed on our earth; the wind blew, the vivid lightning flashed, the thunder rolled, the earth trembled, and the floods descended in a manner never before witnessed by us. Our tents were blown down, and some of us lay six or eight inches deep in water. There was a large meeting house there with the door open, into which many of us gathered for shelter, after being nearly drowned.7
Next morning the fords of Fishing River were said to be twenty to forty feet deep. We afterwards learned that an army of outlaws were in our neighborhood, and would have attacked us that night but for the storm; the floods in the river each side of us prevented a hostile meeting, until certain citizens made the acquaintance of our leaders, and learned their intentions. Thus the excitement was allayed, and the outlaws finally disbanded.
About this time, owing to some murmurings and insubordination in the camp, the cholera broke out among them,8 in fulfilment of the word of the Lord, by the mouth of His servant Joseph, and resulted in the death of some fifteen or twenty of the camp, or of others connected with the Saints.9 Finally, the camp was by the word of the Lord, disbanded; some remained as settlers in that country, and others returned to their homes and families in Ohio.10
I left the camp at Fishing River, and arrived home in Clay County, where my family resided, late in July. I found my wife still afflicted, and on account of long sickness, was reduced to greater poverty than before, and I was somewhat embarrassed with debts on account of her board, etc., while I was absent.
About the time of the arrival of the camp at Fishing River, the mob of Jackson County sent a committee of twelve of their leaders, to confer with the authorities of the exiled Church in Clay County, to make proposals for the settlement of the whole matter, by purchasing the lands from which they had been driven. The Saints would not sell their lands to their murderers and the land pirates who had driven and plundered them; therefore the mob’s representatives were unsuccessful.
As this committee of twelve returned, and were crossing the Missouri River at evening, their boat sank in an instant in the middle of the stream, and only about half of the committee ever reached the shore alive. Brother Joseph said it was the angel of the Lord who sank the boat.
Having no means of support except by the labor of my hands, I now commenced again to exert myself at hard labor. In this I continued till October of the same year, when, being counselled by the Presidency to remove to Ohio, I started a journey of one thousand miles with my wife, in a wagon drawn by two horses.11 We had not a single dollar in money, but we trusted in God, and lacked for nothing. During this journey my wife continued in a very feeble state of health.
After a journey of near one thousand miles, we arrived at New Portage, fifty miles from Kirtland, early in the winter, and finding a large society of the Saints who welcomed us among them, we stopped for the winter. I now commenced to preach, both in that place and in all the region round, to multitudes who turned out to hear the Word.
Many embraced the gospel, and enjoyed the gifts of God; instances of healing were of almost daily occurrence, and the people waxed strong in the faith and in the gifts and power of God. I also labored with my hands with all diligence, when time would permit; thus the winter passed away.
While laboring here, letters were received from W. W. Phelps, then President of the Church in Missouri,12 suspending my papers because I had gone away in debt; which debt had been contracted in behalf of my sick wife while I had been away in the service of the Conference, as recorded in the previous chapter. I had once offered the money on the same, but the person to whom it was due, in view of my public services, refused to take it; nevertheless, President Phelps now censured me severely, observing in his letter that such conduct was not the way of the pure in heart.
Under this censure I ceased to officiate, at which both the Church and people in general in and about New Portage were much grieved. In the fore part of February, 1835, I repaired to Kirtland, laid the case before President Smith, with my defence in writing, in which is stated the true circumstances. I proceeded to plead the injustice of the accusation, when the President arose to his feet, lifted his hand to heaven, and with a voice, and energy, and power of the Holy Spirit which thrilled the inmost soul, and would have raised the dead, he exclaimed: “Brother Parley, God bless you, go your way rejoicing, preach the gospel, fill the measure of your mission, and walk such things under your feet; it was a trick of Satan to hinder your usefulness; God Almighty shall be with you, and nothing shall stay your hand.”13
I was comforted, encouraged, filled with new life, thanking God that there was one noble spirit on the earth who could discern justice and equity, appreciate the labors of others, and had boldness of soul to judge and act accordingly.
In accordance with one of the early revelations to the Church concerning the calling and ordination of Twelve Apostles, this quorum was now being filled.14 Among those chosen for this high and holy calling was my brother Orson and myself. He being still absent, and the other members having been already ordained, a meeting was convened at Kirtland, and very numerously attended, in which, on the 21st day of February, 1835,15 I took the oath and covenant of apostleship, and was solemnly set apart and ordained to that office; and as a member of that quorum under the hands of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer; the minutes of which in the Church History are as follows:16
“Kirtland, February 21st, 1835. Pursuant to adjournment, a meeting of the Church was held, and, after prayer by President David Whitmer, and a short address by President Oliver Cowdery to the congregation, Elder Parley P. Pratt was called to the stand, and ordained one of the Twelve by President Joseph Smith, Jr., David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. ‘O, Lord, smile from heaven upon this thy servant; forgive his sins, sanctify his heart, and prepare him to receive the blessing. Increase his love for thee and for thy cause; increase his intelligence, communicate to him all that wisdom, that prudence and that understanding which he needs as a minister of righteousness, and to magnify the apostleship whereunto he is called.
“May a double portion of that Spirit which was communicated to the disciples of our Lord and Saviour,17 to lead them to all truth, rest down upon him, and go with him where he goes, that nothing shall prevail against him; that he may be delivered from prisons, from the power of his enemies, and from the adversary of all righteousness.
“May he be able to mount up on wings as an eagle; to run and not be weary, to walk and not to faint;18 may he have great wisdom and intelligence, and be able to lead thine elect through this thorny maze. Let sickness and death have no power over him; let him be equal with his brethren in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, and many nations to a knowledge of the truth. Great blessings shall rest upon thee; thy faith shall increase, thou shalt have great power to prevail. The veil of the heavens shall be rolled up, thou shalt be permitted to gaze within it, and receive instructions from on high.
“No arm that is formed and lifted against thee shall prosper, no power shall prevail, for thou shalt have power with God, and shalt proclaim His gospel. Thou wilt be afflicted, but thou shalt be delivered, and conquer all thy foes. Thine office shall never be taken from thee, thou shalt be called great, angels shall carry thee from place to place. Thy sins are forgiven, and thy name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life; even so. Amen.’19
Charge Given by Oliver Cowdery to P. P. Pratt
“I am aware, dear brother, that the mind naturally claims something new; but the same thing rehearsed frequently profits us. You will have the same difficulties to encounter in fulfilling this ministry that the ancient Apostles had. You have enlisted in a cause that requires your whole attention; you ought, therefore, to count the cost; and to become a polished shaft, you must be sensible, requires the labor of years, and your station requires a perfect polish.
“It is required not merely to travel a few miles in the country, but in distant countries; you must endure much toil, much labor, and many privations to become perfectly polished. Your calling is not like that of the husbandman, to cultivate a stinted portion of the planet on which we dwell, and when Heaven has given the former and the latter rain, and mellow autumn ripened his fruits, gather it in, and congratulate himself for a season in the remission of his toils, while he anticipates his winter evenings of relaxation and fireside enjoyments. But, dear brother, it is far otherwise with you.
“Your labor must be incessant, and your toil great; you must go forth and labor till the great work is done.20 It will require a series of years to accomplish it; but you will have this pleasing consolation, that your Heavenly Father requires it; the field is His; the work is His; and He will not only cheer you, animate you, and buoy you up in your pilgrimage, in your arduous toils; but when your work is done and your labor o’er, he will take you to himself.
“But before this consummation of your felicity, bring your mind to bear upon what will be imperiously required of you to accomplish the great work that lies before you. Count well the cost. You have read of the persecutions and trials of ancient days. Has not bitter experience taught you that they are the same now? You will be dragged before the authorities for the religion you profess; and it were better not to set out than to start, look back, or shrink when dangers thicken upon, or appalling death stares you in the face. I have spoken these things, dear brother, because I have seen them in visions. There are strong dungeons and gloomy prisons for you.21
“These should not appall you. You must be called a good or bad man. The ancients passed through the same. They had this testimony, that they had seen the Saviour after he rose from the dead. You must bear some testimony, or your mission, your labor, your toil will be in vain. You must bear the same testimony that there is but one God, one Mediator; he that has seen Him will know Him, and testify of Him.
“Beware of pride; beware of evil; shun the very appearance of it; for the time is coming when, if you do not give heed to these things, you will have a fall. Among your many afflictions you will have many blessings also; but you must pass through many afflictions in order to receive the glory that is in reserve for you. You will see thousands who, when they first see you, will know nothing about salvation by Jesus Christ; you shall see a nation born in a day. A great work lies before you, and the time is near when you must bid farewell to your native land, cross the mighty deep, and sound the tocsin of alarm to other nations, kindreds, tongues and people.
“Remember, that all your hopes of deliverance from danger and from death will rest upon your faithfulness to God; in His cause you must necessarily serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind. Avoid strife and vain glory; think not yourself better than your brethren, but pray for them as well as for yourself; and if you are faithful, great will be your blessings; but if you are not, your stewardship will be taken from you and another appointed in your stead.
“Elder Pratt gave his hand to President O. Cowdery, and said he had received ordination, and should fulfil the ministry according to the grace given him; to which the President replied: ‘Go forth, and angels shall bear thee up, and thou shalt come forth at the last day, bringing many with thee.'” Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Pratt were absent on a mission. Elder Marsh returned to Kirtland on the 25th of April, and Elder Pratt on the 26th, and received their ordinations and blessings.
The following charge was given to the Twelve by President O. Cowdery:
“Dear Brethren: Previous to delivering the charge, I shall read a part of a revelation. It is known to you that, previous to the organization of this Church, in 1830, the Lord gave revelations, or the Church could not have been organized. The people of this Church were weak in faith compared with the ancients. Those who embarked in this cause were desirous to know how the work was to be conducted. They read many things in the Book of Mormon concerning their duty, and the way the great work ought to be done; but the minds of men are so constructed that they will not believe without a testimony of seeing or hearing. The Lord gave us a revelation that, in process of time, there should be twelve men chosen to preach His gospel to Jew and Gentile.
“Our minds have been on a constant stretch to find who these twelve were, when the time should come we could not tell; but we sought the Lord by fasting and prayer to have our lives prolonged to see this day; to see you; and to take a retrospect of the difficulties through which we have passed; but, having seen the day, it becomes my duty to deliver to you a charge; and first, a few remarks respecting your ministry. You have many revelations put into your hands; revelations to make you acquainted with the nature of your mission; you will have difficulties by reason of your visiting all the nations of the world. You will need wisdom in a ten-fold proportion to what you have ever had; you will have to combat all the prejudices of all nations.”
He then read the revelation and said: “Have you desired this ministry with all your hearts?22 If you have desired it, you are called of God, not of man, to go into all the world.”
“He then read again from the revelation what the Lord said to the Twelve. “Brethren, you have your duty presented in this revelation. You have been ordained to the holy priesthood; you have received it from those who have their power and authority from an angel; you are to preach the gospel to every nation. Should you in the least degree come short of your duty, great will be your condemnation; for the greater the calling the greater the transgression.
“I, therefore, warn you to cultivate great humility, for I know the pride of the human heart. Beware, lest the flatterers of the world lift you up; beware, lest your affections are captivated by worldly objects. Let your ministry be first. Remember, the souls of men are committed to your charge, and, if you mind your calling, you shall always prosper.
“You have been indebted to other men in the first instance for evidence; on that you have acted; but it is necessary that you receive a testimony from Heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will, therefore, see the necessity of getting this testimony from Heaven.
“Never cease striving till you have seen God face to face.23 Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief, and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hands upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Saviour in former days laid his hands on his disciples, why not in latter days?
“With regard to superiority I must make a few remarks. The ancient Apostles sought to be great;24 but lest the seeds of discord be sown in this matter, understand particularly the voice of the Spirit on this occasion. God does not love you better or more than others. You are to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
“Jacob, you know, wrestled till he obtained.25 It was by fervent prayer and diligent search that you have obtained the testimony you are now able to bear. You are as one; you are equal in bearing the keys of the kingdom to all nations. You are called to preach the gospel of the Son of God to the nations of the earth; it is the will of your Heavenly Father that you proclaim His gospel to the ends of the earth, and the islands of the sea.
“Be zealous to save souls. The soul of one man is as precious as the soul of another.26 You are to bear this message to those who consider themselves wise; and such may persecute you; they may seek your life. The adversary has always sought the life of the servants of God; you are, therefore, to be prepared at all times to make a sacrifice of your lives, should God require them in the advancement and building up of His cause. Murmur not at God. Be always prayerful; be always watchful. You will bear with me while I relieve the feelings of my heart. We shall not see another day like this; the time has fully come; the voice of the Spirit has come to set these men apart.
“You will see the time when you will desire to see such a day as this, and you will not see it. Every heart wishes you peace and prosperity; but the scene with you will inevitably change. Let no man take your bishopric;27 and beware that you lose not your crowns. It will require your whole souls; it will require courage like Enoch’s.28
“The time is near when you will be in the midst of congregations who will gnash their teeth upon you. This gospel must roll, and will roll until it fills the whole earth.29 Did I say congregations would gnash upon you? Yea, I say nations will gnash upon you; you will be considered the worst of men. Be not discouraged at this. When God pours out His Spirit the enemy will rage; but God, remember, is on your right hand and on your left.30 A man, though he be considered the worst, has joy, who is conscious that he pleases God.31
“The lives of those who proclaim the true gospel will be in danger; this has been the case ever since the days of righteous Abel. The same opposition has been manifest whenever men came forward to publish the gospel. The time is coming when you will be considered the worst by many, and by some the best of men. The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. This testimony will make those who do not believe your testimony seek your lives; but there are whole nations who will receive your testimony. They will call you good men.
“Be not lifted up when you are called good men. Remember you are young men, and you shall be spared.32 I include the other three.33 Bear them in mind in your prayers; carry their cases to a throne of grace; although they are not present, yet you and they are equal. This appointment is calculated to create an affection in you for each other stronger than death. You will travel to other nations; bear each other in mind. If one or more is cast into prison, let the others pray for him, and deliver him by their prayers. Your lives shall be in great jeopardy; but the promise of God is, that you shall be delivered.
“Remember you are not to go to other nations till you receive your endowment. Tarry at Kirtland until you are endowed with power from on high.34 You need a fountain of wisdom, knowledge and intelligence, such as you never had.
“Relative to the endowment, I make a remark or two, that there be no mistake. The world cannot receive the things of God. He can endow you without worldly pomp or great parade. He can give you that wisdom, that intelligence and that power which characterized the ancient saints, and now characterizes the inhabitants of the upper world. The greatness of your commission consists in this: You are to hold the keys of this ministry; you are to go to the nations afar off; nations that sit in darkness.
“The day is coming when the work of God must be done. Israel shall be gathered. The seed of Jacob shall be gathered from their long dispersion. There will be a feast to Israel, the elect of God. It is a sorrowful tale, but the gospel must be preached, and God’s ministers rejected; but where can Israel be found and receive your testimony and not rejoice? Nowhere! The prophecies are full of great things that are to take place in the last days. After the elect are gathered out, destruction shall come on the inhabitants of the earth; all nations shall feel the wrath of God, after they have been warned by the saints of the Most High. If you will not warn them others will, and you will lose your crowns.
“You must prepare your minds to bid a long farewell to Kirtland, even till the great day come. You will see what you never expected to see; you will need the mind of Enoch or Elijah, and the faith of the brother of Jared; you must be prepared to walk by faith, however appalling the prospect to human view; you, and each of you, should feel the force of the imperious mandate, ‘Son, go labor in my vineyard,’ and cheerfully receive what comes; but in the end you will stand while others will fall. You have read in the revelation concerning ordination:35 ‘Beware how you ordain, for all nations are not like this nation; they will willingly receive the ordinances at your hands to put you out of the way. There will be times when nothing but the angels of God can deliver you out of their hands.’
“We appeal to your intelligence, we appeal to your understanding, that we have so far discharged our duty to you. We consider it one of the greatest condescensions of our Heavenly Father in pointing you out to us; you will be stewards over this ministry; you have a work to do that no other men can do; you must proclaim the gospel in its simplicity and
purity, and we commend you to God and the word of His grace.
“You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, – that you have seen the face of God. Therefore, call upon Him in faith and mighty prayer, till you prevail; for it is your duty and privilege to bear such testimony for yourselves. We now exhort you to be faithful to fulfil your calling, – there must be no lack here; you must fulfil in all things, and permit us to repeat, all nations have a claim on you; you are bound together as the three witnesses were; you, notwithstanding, can part and meet, and meet and part again, till your heads are silvered o’er with age.”
He then took them separately by the hand, and said, “Do you with full purpose of heart take part in this ministry, to proclaim the gospel with all diligence, with these your brethren, according to the tenor and intent of the charge you have received?” Each of whom answered in the affirmative.
4.Wilford Woodruff recorded of the march: “Our march was similar to the ancient Israelites. Our horses, wagons, and tents were in readiness and we were led by Joseph. Our Company now consisted of twenty baggage wagons, and rising of one hundred fifty men. The men were armed with dirks pistols, swords, and rifles. For self-defence, and according to Brother Joseph’s request, I delivered him my sword for his own use. Our lives were threatened in consequence of advocating and maintaining the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this cause it became necessary to be in readiness to defend our lives, our persons, and property” (Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1:9). He also said, “It was a great school for us to be led by a Prophet of God a thousand miles through cities, towns, villages, and through the wilderness. When persons stood up to count us, they could not tell how many we numbered. Some said five hundred, others a thousand” (Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, 40; spelling and punctuation standardized).
5. In a letter from the governor to Colonel J. Thornton, dated June 6, 1834, Dunklin declared: “A more clear and indisputable right does not exist, than that of the Mormon people, who were expelled from their homes in Jackson county, to return and live on their lands; and if they cannot be persuaded, as a matter of policy, to give up that right, or to qualify it, my course, as the chief executive of the state, is a plain one. The constitution of the United States declares ‘that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.’ Then we cannot interdict any people, who have political franchise in the United States, from immigrating to this state, nor from choosing what part of the state they will settle in, provided they do not trespass on the property or rights of others.” He then added:
“I am fully persuaded that the eccentricity of the religious opinions and practices
of the Mormons is at the bottom of the outrages committed against them. They have the right constitutionally guaranteed to them, and it is indefeasible, to worship Joe Smith as a man, an angel, or even as the only true and living God, and to call their habitation Zion, the Holy Land, or even heaven itself. Indeed, there is nothing so absurd or ridiculous that they have not a right to adopt as their religion, so that in its exercise they do not interfere with the rights of others” (Smith, History of the Church, 2:85).
6. Parley’s report to the brethren about Governor Dunklin’s response was disappointing and “must have been a severe blow to the hopes of Zion’s Camp and the Saints scattered in Clay county. From the time of their expulsion from Jackson county the governor repeatedly said that the exiles had a right to be reinstated upon their lands, and had promised that he would call out the militia of the State to reinstate them whenever they were ready and willing to return… In the face of this and other utterances the position now assumed by Governor Dunklin was a manifestation of weakness truly lamentable” (Smith, History of the Church, 2:94n).
7. Heber C. Kimball described the setting: “Just as we halted and were making preparations for the night, five men rode into the camp and told us we should see hell before morning, and such horrible oaths as came from their lips I never heard before. They told us that sixty men were coming from Richmond, who had sworn to destroy us, also seventy more were coming from Clay County, to assist in our destruction. These men were black with passion, and armed with guns, and the whole country was in a rage against us, and nothing but the power of God could save us. All this time the weather was pleasant. Soon after these men left us we discovered a small black cloud rising in the west, and not more than twenty minutes passed away before it began to rain and hail; but we had very little hail in our camp. All around us the hail was heavy; some of the hailstones, or rather lumps of ice, were as large as hens’ eggs. The thunder rolled with awful majesty, and the red lightnings flashed through the horizon, making it so light that I could see to pick up a pin almost any time through the night. The earth quaked and trembled, and there being no cessation it seemed as though the Almighty had issued forth His mandate of vengeance… Many trees were blown down, and others were twisted and wrung like a withe. The mob came to the river two miles from us, but the river had risen to that height that they were obliged to stop without crossing over. The hail fell so heavily upon them that it beat holes in their hats, and in some instances even broke the stocks off their guns; their horses, being frightened, fled, leaving the riders on the ground. Their powder was wet, and it was evident that the Almighty fought in our defense. This night the river raised forty feet” (Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 52-53).
8. On Sunday, June 22, 1834, Joseph received a revelation in which the camp
was told: “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer… Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion-That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands” (D&C 105:5-6, 9-10).
9. About sixty-eight of the Saints contracted cholera, of whom fourteen died, including one woman. The Prophet Joseph described the scene to his mother: “Soon after arriving at the point of destination, the cholera broke out among us, and the brethren were so violently attacked that it seemed impossible to render them any assistance. They immediately sent for us to lay hands on them, but we soon discovered that this also was the judgment of the Almighty, for when we laid our hands upon them in the name of the Lord in order that they might be healed, the disease instantly fastened itself upon us. And in a few minutes we were in awful distress. We made mute signals to each other and left the house for the purpose of going into some secluded place to join in prayer that God would deliver us from this awful influence; but before we could get a sufficient distance to be secure from interruption, we were scarcely able to stand upon our feet and we were greatly alarmed, fearing that we should die in this western wilderness so far from our families, without even the privilege of blessing our children or giving them one word of parting counsel. Hyrum cried out, ‘Joseph, what shall we do? Must we be cut off from the face of the earth by this horrid curse?’
“‘Let us,’ said Joseph, ‘get down upon our knees and pray to God to remove the cramp and other distress and restore us to health, that we may return to our families.’ We did so but without receiving any benefit, but still grew worse. We concluded, however, to make a second effort, and when we kneeled again, the cramp seized the calves of Joseph’s legs, gathering the cords into bunches, and then the operation extended in like manner all over his system. He cried heartily unto God, but the heavens seemed sealed against us and every power that could render us any assistance shut within its gates. The universe was still. ‘When we arose again,’ said Joseph, ‘I found Hyrum was in the same situation with myself.’
“We soon came to the resolution of appealing again to God for mercy, and not to rise from our knees until one or the other got a testimony that we should be healed, and he who received the first intimation from the Spirit should inform the other of the same. We prayed some time, first one and then the other, and soon perceived that the cramp began to loose its hold. In a short time Hyrum sprang to his feet and exclaimed, ‘Joseph, we shall return, for I have seen an open vision in which I saw Mother on her knees under an apple tree praying for us, and she is even now asking God, in tears, to spare our lives, that she may behold us again in the flesh. The Spirit testifies to me that her prayers and ours shall be heard’ – and from that moment we were healed and went on our way rejoicing” (Smith, Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith, 318-19). Of burying the dead of the Camp, Heber Kimball recorded: “While one or two were digging the grave, the rest stood with their arms to defend them. This was our situation, the enemies around us, and the destroyer in our midst” (Smith, History of the Church, 2:116n)
10. Many Zion’s Camp brethren did not understand why they had traveled so far to accomplish so little. Joseph told them: “Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight. He could not organize his kingdom with twelve men to open the gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless he took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham. Now, the Lord has got his Twelve and his Seventy, and there will be other quorums of Seventies called, who will make the sacrifice, and those who have not made their sacrifices and their offerings now, will make them hereafter” (Young, History of the Organization of the Seventies, 14).
11. Parley and Thankful left in October 1834. The presidency referred to here is the Missouri presidency: David Whitmer, president, and W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer, assistants (Smith, History of the Church, 2:124).
12. The president and the assistants were all referred to as presidents. It appears that W. W. Phelps was acting as president in the absence of David Whitmer, who had been dispatched to Kirtland to aid in the calling of the Twelve.
13. This interaction with the Prophet Joseph took place just a few days before the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was formed. The Prophet had already seen
the organization of the highest priesthood quorums in vision and perhaps already
knew that Parley would be called to the Quorum of the Twelve. In a meeting at the Prophet’s home on February 8, 1835, he told brother Brigham and Joseph Young: “‘I wish you to notify all the brethren living in the branches, within a reasonable distance from this place, to meet at a General Conference on Saturday next [February 14, 1835]. I shall then and there appoint twelve special witnesses, to open the door of the gospel to foreign nations, and you,’ said he (speaking to Brother Brigham), ‘will be one of them.’
“He then proceeded to enlarge upon the duties of their calling. The interest that was taken on the occasion of this announcement, produced in the minds of the two Elders present a great sensation and many reflections; having previously notified Brother Brigham Young that he would be one of the witnesses, but said nothing to Joseph, until he had exhausted much of his feelings in regard to the Twelve, which took up some little time.
“He then turned to Elder Joseph Young with quite an earnestness, as though the vision of his mind was extended still further, and addressing him, said: ‘Brother Joseph, the Lord has made you President of the Seventies'” (Young, History of the Organization of the Seventies, 1).
14. See D&C 18. One of the duties and callings of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon was to seek out and find twelve apostles. Though Martin Harris’s name was not mentioned in the revelation, he was nevertheless involved in the search for the Twelve. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was organized February 14, 1835, in “the new school house under the printing office,” which stood just behind and
to the west of the temple site (Smith, History of the Church, 2:181n). The schoolhouse/printing office was burned by an arsonist during the night of January 15, 1838 (four days after Joseph and Sidney had fled from Kirtland).
15. This occurred one week after the Quorum of the Twelve was organized. This first Quorum of the Twelve consisted of, from oldest to youngest: Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, William E. McLellin, Parley P. Pratt, Luke S. Johnson, William Smith, Orson Pratt, John F. Boynton, and Lyman E. Johnson.
19. Parley added this insight from his family record of an ordinance that took place later: “Was washed in pure water by his Brethren of the twelve and solemnly anointed to his priesthood and the Apostleship in the Temple of the Lord at Kirtland, Ohio, by the hands of President Joseph Smith Junior, during the winter of 1836” (Pratt, Family Record).
34. This endowment referred to here is not the temple endowment per se but the visions and heavenly manifestations poured out upon the Saints from January 17 to May 1, 1836 – called by some a “Pentecostal Season of the Kirtland Temple” (see Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland, 174). Although some initiatory ordinances were
performed in the Kirtland Temple, the full endowment was not given until the Nauvoo period beginning May 4, 1842, in the room over Joseph Smith’s red brick store.
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