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To celebrate the study of the Doctrine & Covenants and Church History this year, Meridian is serializing The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother.
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To see all the installments, published in order, click here.
Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother—
By Lucy Mack Smith
Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Oliver Cowdery are called on a mission to the Lamanites. Lucy’s description of the indomitable Emma. The four missionaries stop in Ohio to preach the gospel, and hundreds respond to the message of the Restoration, including Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge. Sidney and Edward come to Waterloo to meet the Prophet. The Lord commands the Church to gather in Ohio. Joseph and Emma move to Kirtland, Ohio.
October 1830 to February 1831
I mentioned in a foregoing chapter that when Joseph and Emma left Manchester they went to Macedon.1 Here he commenced his ministerial labors and continued, for some time, to preach successively in this place, Colesville, Waterloo, Palmyra, and Manchester, till finally he sent to Pennsylvania for his goods and settled himself in Waterloo.2
Soon after which, a revelation was given commanding Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, Peter Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery to take a mission to Missouri, preaching by the way.3 As soon as this revelation was received, Emma Smith and several other sisters began to make arrangements to furnish those who were set apart for this mission with the necessary clothing, which was no easy task, as the most of it had to be manufactured out of the raw material.
Emma’s health at this time was quite delicate,4 yet she did not favor herself on this account, but whatever her hands found to do she did with her might, until so far beyond her strength that she brought upon herself a heavy fit of sickness, which lasted four weeks. And, although her strength was exhausted, still her spirits were the same, which, in fact, was always the case with her, even under the most trying circumstances.
I have never seen a woman in my life who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship from month to month and from year to year with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience which she has ever done; for I know that which she has had to endure-she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty-she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman.5 It may be that many may yet have to encounter the same-I pray God that this may not be the case; but, should it be, may they have grace given them according to their day, even as has been the case with her.
As soon as those men designated in the revelation were prepared to leave home, they started on their mission, preaching and baptizing on their way wherever an opportunity afforded.
On their route they passed through Kirtland, where they preached a short time and raised up a branch of twenty or thirty members.6 Before leaving this place, they addressed a letter to Joseph, desiring him to send an elder to preside over the branch which they had raised up. Accordingly, Joseph dispatched John Whitmer to take the presidency of the Church at Kirtland; and when he arrived there, those appointed to go to Missouri proceeded on their mission, preaching and baptizing as before.7
In December of the same year, Joseph appointed a meeting at our house. While he was preaching, Sidney Rigdon8 and Edward Partridge came in and seated themselves in the congregation. When Joseph had finished his discourse, he gave all who had any remarks to make the privilege of speaking. Upon this, Mr. Partridge arose, and stated that he had been to Manchester with the view of obtaining further information respecting the doctrine which we preached; but, not finding us, he had made some inquiry of our neighbors concerning our characters, which they stated had been unimpeachable, until Joseph deceived them relative to the Book of Mormon. He also said that he had walked over our farm, and observed the good order and industry which it exhibited; and, having seen what we had sacrificed for the sake of our faith, and having heard that our veracity was not questioned upon any other point than that of our religion, he believed our testimony and was ready to be baptized, “if,” said he, “Brother Joseph will baptize me.”
“You are now,” replied Joseph, “much fatigued, Brother Partridge, and you had better rest today and be baptized tomorrow.”
“Just as Brother Joseph thinks best,” replied Mr. Partridge, “I am ready at any time.”
He was accordingly baptized the next day.9 Before he left, my husband returned home from prison, bringing along with him considerable clothing, which he had earned at coopering in the jail yard.10
The latter part of the same month, Joseph received a letter from John Whitmer, desiring his immediate assistance at Kirtland in regulating the affairs of the Church there. Joseph inquired of the Lord and received a commandment to go straightway to Kirtland with his family and effects;11 also to send a message to Hyrum to have him take the branch of the Church over which he presided and start immediately for the same place.12 And my husband was commanded, in the same revelation, to meet Hyrum at the most convenient point and accompany him to Kirtland. Samuel was sent on a mission into the same region of country, while I and my two sons William and Carlos were to be left till the ensuing spring, when we were to take the remainder of the branch at Waterloo and move also to Kirtland.
It was but a short time till Joseph and Emma were on their way, accompanied by Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, Ezra Thayre, and Newel Knight.13 When they were about starting, they preached at our house on the Seneca River; and on their way they preached at the house of Calvin Stoddard,14 and likewise at the house of Preserved Harris.15 At each of these places, they baptized several individuals into the Church.
On Joseph’s arrival at Kirtland,16 he found a church consisting of nearly one hundred members, who were, in general, good brethren, though a few of them had imbibed some very erroneous ideas, being greatly deceived by a singular power which manifested itself among them in strange contortions of the visage, and sudden, unnatural exertions of the body. This they supposed to be a display of the power of God. Shortly after Joseph arrived, he called the Church together in order to show them the difference between the Spirit of God and the spirit of the devil. He said, if a man arose in meeting to speak, and was seized with a kind of paroxysm that drew his face and limbs in a violent and unnatural manner which made him appear to be in pain; and if he gave utterance to strange sounds which were incomprehensible to his audience, they might rely upon it, that he had the spirit of the devil. But, on the contrary, when a man speaks by the Spirit of God, he speaks from the abundance of his heart-his mind is filled with intelligence, and even should he be excited, it does not cause him to do anything ridiculous or unseemly. He then called upon one of the brethren to speak, who arose and made the attempt, but was immediately seized with a kind of spasm which drew his face, arms, and fingers in a most astonishing manner.
Hyrum, by Joseph’s request, laid his hands on the man, whereupon he sank back in a state of complete exhaustion. Joseph then called upon another man to speak who stood leaning in an open window. This man also attempted to speak, but was thrown forward into the house, prostrate, unable to utter a syllable. He was administered to, and the same effect followed as in the first instance.
These, together with a few other examples of the same kind, convinced the brethren of the mistake under which they had been laboring; and they all rejoiced in the goodness of God in once more condescending to lead the children of men by revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost.17
1 Macedon is about six miles west of the Manchester Smith farm.
2 This was in late fall 1830.
3 This revelation (section 32 of the Doctrine and Covenants) was given in October 1830. After calling Parley Pratt and Ziba Peterson to join Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer Jr., the Lord said: “And I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them” (D&C 32:3).
4 In the fall of 1830 Emma was pregnant with twins.
5 In the seventeen years of Joseph and Emma’s marriage, they moved sixteen times, and perhaps only three or four times lived in a home of their own (Harmony, Kirtland, Far West [for a brief time], and Nauvoo).
6 Parley Pratt recorded: “At length Mr. Rigdon and many others became convinced that they had not authority to minister in the ordinances of God; and that they had not been legally baptized and ordained. They, therefore, came forward and were baptized by us, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. “The news of our coming was soon noised abroad, and the news of the discovery of the Book of Mormon and the marvelous events connected with it. The interest and excitement now became general in Kirtland, and in all the region round about. The people thronged us night and day, insomuch that we had no time for rest and retirement. Meetings were convened in different neighborhoods, and multitudes came together soliciting our attendance; while thousands flocked about us daily; some to be taught, some for curiosity, some to obey the gospel, and some to dispute or resist it. “In two or three weeks from our arrival in the neighborhood with the news, we had baptized one hundred and twenty-seven souls, and this number soon increased to one thousand. The disciples were filled with joy and gladness; while rage and lying was abundantly manifested by gainsayers; faith was strong, joy was great, and persecution heavy.” (Pratt, Autobiography, pp. 35-36.)
7 Parley recorded that as the missionaries came to the state of Missouri, “we travelled on foot for three hundred miles through vast prairies and through trackless wilds of snow-no beaten road; houses few and far between; and the bleak northwest wind always blowing in our faces with a keenness which would almost take the skin off the face. We travelled for whole days, from morning till night, without a house or fire, wading in snow to the knees at every step, and the cold so intense that the snow did not melt on the south side of the houses, even in the mid-day sun, for nearly six weeks. We carried on our backs our changes of clothing, several books, and corn bread and raw pork. We often ate our frozen bread and pork by the way, when the bread would be so frozen that we could not bite or penetrate any part of it but the outside crust. “After much fatigue and some suffering we all arrived in Independence, in the county of Jackson, on the extreme western frontiers of Missouri, and of the United States. “This was about fifteen hundred miles from where we started, and we had performed most of the journey on foot, through a wilderness country, in the worst season of the year, occupying about four months, during which we had preached the gospel to tens of thousands of Gentiles and two nations of Indians; baptizing, confirming and organizing many hundreds of people into churches of Latter-day Saints.” (Pratt, Autobiography, p. 40.)
8 Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge arrived on December 10, 1830. Sidney Rigdon, born at St. Clair Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, February 19, 1793, was the son of William and Nancy Gallaher Rigdon. Sidney was baptized November 14, 1830, and played a key role in the Restoration. He served as Joseph’s scribe during the inspired translation of the Bible, accompanied Joseph to Missouri, dedicated the land of Zion, saw the vision of the three degrees of glory with Joseph, was mobbed in Hiram, Ohio, with Joseph, participated in the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, was with Joseph in Liberty Jail, was a member of the First Presidency, and ran (on the ticket with Joseph) as a vice-presidential candidate of the United States. Joseph spoke of Sidney’s great sacrifice in leaving behind his employment of preacher and joining with the true fold of Christ: “The honors and applause of the world were showered down upon him, his wants were abundantly supplied, and were anticipated. He was respected by the entire community, and his name was a tower of strength. His [counsel] was sought for, respected and esteemed. But if he should unite with the Church of Christ, his prospects of wealth and affluence would vanish; his family dependent upon him for support, must necessarily share his humiliation and poverty. He was aware that his character and his reputation must suffer in the estimation of the community.” (Times and Seasons 4 [September 1, 1843]: 304.) Sidney became disaffected from the Church and from Joseph, moving away from the body of the Saints. Upon his attempt to wrest the leadership of the Church after the martyrdom of Joseph, he was excommunicated September 8, 1844, and never returned to the Church. He died July 14, 1876 (age 83), in Friendship, New York. (See Cook, Revelations, pp. 52-53.)
9 Edward Partridge was baptized by Joseph Smith on December 11, 1830, in the Seneca River. He was referred to by the Prophet Joseph as “a pattern of piety, and one of the Lord’s great men.” Edward, born in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, August 27, 1793, was the son of William and Jemima Bidwell Partridge. As a youth, “the Spirit of the Lord strove with him a number of times, insomuch that his heart was made tender, and he went and wept; and sometimes he went silently and poured the effusions of his soul to God in prayer. . . . At the age of twenty he had become disgusted with the religious world. He saw no beauty, comeliness, or loveliness in the character of God as represented by the teaching of the various religious sects. He however heard a Universalist Restorationer preach upon the love of God: this sermon gave him exalted opinions of God, and he concluded that Universal Restoration was right according to the Bible. He continued in this belief till 1828, when he and his wife were baptized into the ‘Campbellite’ church by Sidney Rigdon, in Mentor, [Ohio]. . . . He continued a member of this church, though doubting at times its being the true one, until Elders Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jun., and Ziba Peterson came with the Book of Mormon.” (History of the Church 1:128-29.) Edward wanted to meet the Prophet Joseph before he made a decision to be baptized. He first heard him preach the night they arrived in Waterloo (December 10, 1830).
10 This date is difficult to coordinate with other records, but it appears from Lucy’s account that Joseph Smith Sr. had been incarcerated in Canandaigua Jail from the middle of November until this mid-December 1830 period. As noted previously, however, other sources estimate that Joseph Sr. was incarcerated basically throughout the month of October, being released probably no later than November 5, 1830 (see p. 243, note 1).
11 See D&C 37. In part this revelation said: “Behold, I say unto you that it is not expedient in me that ye should translate [the Bible] any more until ye shall go to the Ohio, and this because of the enemy and for your sakes. . . . And again, a commandment I give unto the church, that it is expedient in me that they should assemble together at the Ohio.” (D&C 37: 1, 3.)
12 Hyrum presided over the Colesville Branch of the Church, which, at that time, had about seventy members.
13 It is well to note that Emma made this dead-of-winter journey while seven months pregnant with twins.
14 This was Lucy Mack Smith’s son-in-law, husband to Sophronia.
15 Preserved Harris was a younger brother of Martin Harris.
16 Joseph and Emma arrived in Kirtland, pulled by horses in a sleigh, on or about Tuesday, February 1, 1831.
17 Joseph recorded: “With a little caution and some wisdom, I soon assisted the brethren and sisters to overcome [the strange notions and false spirits that had crept in among them]. . . . and the false spirits were easily discerned and rejected by the light of revelation.” (History of the Church 1:146, 147.)