On August 8, 1844, six weeks after the Prophet Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, a meeting of the Saints was held in Nauvoo, Illinois. Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and several other Apostles had just returned from missions. The purpose of the meeting was to determine by vote who had the right and responsibility to lead the Church—Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, or the Quorum of the Twelve with Brigham Young at their head.1 In the course of the two meetings held that day, many in attendance received a divine witness that Brigham Young was to be the next leader: some Saints specifically state that as Brigham Young addressed the congregation he sounded and appeared remarkably like Joseph Smith, others simply say that the “mantle of Joseph” or “of the prophets” rested on Brigham Young, and others state that they were given a witness “by the spirit” that Brigham was to lead the Church.
This spiritual experience, which has come to be known as “the mantle of the Prophet falling on Brigham Young,” served to unite and comfort the Saints as they mourned the death of their beloved prophet and to direct them when they voted to support Brigham and the Twelve as leaders of the Church. Some Saints who were not present at the August 8 meetings reported experiencing a similar “mantle” witness on later occasions. At least one hundred people wrote or otherwise passed on their remembrances of this witness.
Most Mormon historians acknowledge the mantle story, agreeing that something important happened in August 1844. For example, Ronald K. Esplin states, “Though there is no contemporary diary account, the number of later retellings, many in remarkable detail, argues for the reality of some such experience.”2 Leonard J. Arrington notes that an important event “took place” but observes that there may be psychological explanations for the phenomenon3 and reserves judgment regarding whether a miraculous transfiguration4 occurred.5 Others, however, have concluded that it is unlikely that a miraculous spiritual manifestation took place. Richard S. Van Wagoner, for instance, writes, “When 8 August 1844 is stripped of emotional overlay, there is not a shred of irrefutable contemporary evidence to support the occurrence of a mystical event.” Van Wagoner concludes that “a more likely scenario was that it was the force of Young’s commanding presence, his well-timed arrival at the morning meeting, and perhaps a bit of theatrical mimicry, that swayed the crowd.”6
In order to enable readers to examine the evidence underlying these interpretations for themselves, numerous accounts of the mantle experience have been compiled in appendixes I and II of this article. The evidence presented in these accounts demonstrates that many people testified powerfully that they had received a convincing sensory or spiritual witness of the mantle of the Prophet Joseph falling on Brigham Young.
The Symbolic Mantle: Elijah and Elisha
The image of the mantle as a symbol of the passing of authority is at least as old as the well-known Old Testament story of the prophet Elijah and Elisha, his young follower.7 The Lord told Elijah that he was to anoint Elisha “to be prophet in thy room.” Elisha was plowing in the fields when Elijah walked past him and placed his rough mantle (cloak or cape) across the younger man’s shoulders. Elisha left the fields to follow Elijah and to minister to him (1 Kgs. 19:16–21).
As the story continues, the time came for Elijah to leave his earthly mission:
And it came to pass, when they were gone over [the Jordan River], that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. (2 Kgs. 2:9–10)
When the veil parted, there appeared a horse-drawn chariot of such brilliant glory it was called a “chariot of fire.” This vehicle swept between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kgs. 2:11).
And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. (2 Kgs. 2:12–15)
Like the “sons of the prophets,” many of the Saints in Nauvoo experienced a witness of the Lord’s designation of the next prophet as they met in conference in Nauvoo on August 8, 1844. The mantle experience of 1844 has become a symbol of the transfer of prophetic authority in the Church. After the death of a prophet and the identification of his successor, members of the Church frequently say that “the mantle has fallen once again.”8
Oral Tradition of Mantle Testimonies
Several years ago, on a warm Sunday morning on a houseboat at Lake Powell, my father, Victor Watkins, gathered his children and grandchildren together to share with them his testimony of the August 8, 1844, miracle.9 He told them about his own grandfather, William Lampard Watkins, who was seventeen at the time of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom on June 27, 1844. When William heard the tragic news, he was in Kentucky campaigning for the Prophet, who was running for president of the United States.10 William hurried back to Nauvoo to join other grieving and confused mourners. At this point in the story, my father pulled a wrinkled paper from his pocket and began to read directly from William’s own words:
A meeting was appointed for August 8th  by which time Brigham Young and most of the other apostles had returned home. It was at this meeting Sidney Rigdon made a lengthy and tedious speech presenting his claims, telling the people what wonderful things he had planned for them.
. . . The darkness was soon dispelled, for Brigham Young explained before the people on that day, the order of the Priesthood. He was filled with the power of the Holy Ghost. He stood before the people as the Prophet Joseph Smith often had done and we heard the voice of the true shepherd, for he spoke with the voice of Joseph. His manner and appearance were like unto Joseph’s and it was manifested to all those present upon whom the responsibility rested to carry on the work of God and lead the Saints.11
Sharing an ancestor’s testimony of seeing and/or hearing Brigham’s transformation before the multitude of followers is a tradition for many Latter-day Saint families whose forebears witnessed the event. Juanita Leavitt Brooks recalled that her grandfather Dudley Leavitt loved to retell the story as long as he lived.12 John and Eliza Billington Welch “were both present at the meeting held August 8, 1844 where the mantle of the Prophet fell on Brigham Young . . . and these facts they related many, many times to their children and grandchildren, greatly strengthening and adding to the testimonies of those who listened.”13 Some descendants of Cynthia Harrington Durphy Bowen have for generations required their children to memorize Cynthia’s account of the event.14 William Ervin Stoker, who was raised from the age of six by his grandfather William Stoker, stated with pride that his grandfather “knew the Prophet Joseph Smith personally and was present when the Mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young, and received a personal testimony.” He would add that he owed much to his grandfather for building up his faith by relating this story to him.15
While the faith of most Church members certainly is not dependent on testimonies of the mantle experience, clearly some members of the Church were strengthened by their faith in the validity of their own mantle experience or that of a loved one. The purpose of this work is to present the written and oral narratives of the people in Nauvoo who firmly believed they had experienced a miracle and who left their testimonies as a witness.
The August 8, 1844, Conference
One session of the August 8, 1844, conference was held in the morning and another in the afternoon. Records indicate that Sidney Rigdon addressed the congregation in the morning session.16 After Sidney’s speech, Brigham Young stood to call for an afternoon session and to make a few remarks. Brigham Young spoke again in the afternoon along with others, but apparently Sidney Rigdon did not. Estimates of the attendance at the meetings range from hundreds to thousands, including men, women, and children of all ages.17 The conference was obviously of great interest to the membership, and whole families attended. The people came expecting an answer to the succession dilemma.
Sidney Rigdon outlined his claim to be guardian of the Church. Brigham Young defended the position of the Quorum of the Twelve.18 According to retrospective accounts, as Brigham delivered his message, many Saints saw or heard Joseph, and some, startled, rose to their feet.19 Some people mention that the transformation occurred when Brigham stood to speak after Sidney Rigdon had concluded—possibly indicating that they witnessed the phenomenon at the end of the morning session of the conference; others say they saw the miracle in the afternoon session. The accounts of still others indicate that they witnessed a transformation not on August 8, but rather on a later date.20 A number of witnesses do not specifically mention seeing or hearing a vision but testify in general terms that “the mantle” or “the spirit of Joseph” rested on Brigham;21 others simply report that they or Brigham were touched by the Spirit.22 In the course of the conference, a vote was taken, with the majority voting for Brigham Young to assume leadership of the Church.
Of those witnesses of a transformation, a few provided specific details about the traits they recognized as Joseph’s. Homer Duncan not only commented on the voice of Brigham sounding like that of Joseph, but also referred to one of Joseph’s mannerisms: “The very gestures of his right hand when he was saying anything very positive reminded me of Joseph. My decision was then made as to who should lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for surely the mantle of Joseph has fallen upon Brigham.”23 Mosiah Lyman Hancock commented, “I saw in him the look of Joseph, and the voice of Joseph; and it seemed to me that he was as tall as Joseph too.”24 Benjamin F. Johnson also observed Joseph’s “tall, straight and portly [robust] form.”25 He then added his famous comments about Joseph’s speech and a missing tooth, remarking that he “heard the real and perfect voice of the Prophet, even to the whistle, as in years past caused by the loss of a tooth said to have been broken out by a mob at Hyrum [Ohio].”26 George Morris also described Joseph’s familiar speech patterns, noting:
In the afternoon Presedent Young arose . . . when I was startled by Earing Josephs Voice—he had a way of Clearing his Throat before he began to speak—by a peculier Effort of His own—like Ah-hem—I raised my Head sudinly—and the first thing I saw was Joseph—as plain as I ever saw Him in my life. . . . That was Testemony anough to Convince me where the Proper athoraty rested.27
Did Brigham himself know that something miraculous had happened? His own account, dated August 8, 1844, simply states:
I arose and spocke to the people. my hart was swolen with composion toards them and by the power of the Holy Gost even the spirit of the Prophets I was enabled to comfort the harts of the Saints. in the afternoon a corden to my request the people assembld by thousands[.] I lade before them the order of the church and the Power of the Preasthood. after a long and laboras talk of a bout two ours in the open air with the wind blowing, the church was of one hart and one mind[.] they wanted the twelve to lead the church as Br Joseph had dun in his day.28
Perhaps Brigham was alluding to the miracle in his reference to “the spirit of the Prophets.” However, records do not indicate that he publicly acknowledged the manifestations at the time they occurred. Brigham Young was careful never to claim to take Joseph’s place. As early as August 15, 1844, he wrote an epistle to the Saints that stated emphatically, “Let no man presume for a moment that his [Joseph’s] place will be filled by another; for, remember, he stands in his own place and always will.”29 Later Brigham advised, “The spirit of Joseph which fell upon me is ready to fall upon somebody else when I am removed.”30
Testimonies of the Mantle Experience of 1844
It is impossible to verify the number of those in attendance at the conference who saw or heard a physical transformation. Records currently known establish 101 written testimonies of people who say a transformation or spiritual manifestation occurred. Of these, fifty-seven are firsthand documents: personal journals, personal narratives told to a scribe, or first-person testimonies published in Church magazine articles. Forty-two are secondhand testimonies: accounts gleaned from biographies written by family members or from historical compilations.
The mantle testimonies come from people who eventually settled all over the Utah Territory—from northern Utah and Idaho to southern Utah and Arizona—and even Tahiti. There is no pocket location of people who recorded this experience.
At least the earliest writers had no opportunity to read other detailed written accounts of the mantle experience before recording their own. Some testimonies31 were written at least fifteen to twenty years before the publication of the most comprehensive, Church-sanctioned mantle testimony—George Q. Cannon’s 1870 essay in the Juvenile Instructor.32 Prior to the publication of Elder Cannon’s essay, printed references to the “mantle of Joseph” falling on Brigham appeared in the Millennial Star33 and in the Times and Seasons.34 These two Church publications do not mention any visions among members of the congregation but simply focus on the point of ecclesiastical interest—that the mantle had fallen on Brigham Young.
In a July 19, 1857, conference talk, Brigham Young referred to Albert Carrington’s mantle experience:
He [Carrington] could not tell me from Joseph Smith, when I was speaking in the stand in Nauvoo during the October Conference of 1844. Somebody came along and passed a finger over his eyes and he could not see any one but Joseph speaking, until I got through addressing the congregation.35
This talk was printed ten days later in the Deseret News36 and may have inspired some Saints to write down their memories of the events of August 1844.
As stories about the mantle experience began to circulate in the 1850s, some writers may have responded by offering their own personalized or embellished accounts; such is human nature. However, most of the stories recorded after this point were not identical. It does not seem that the writers were relying on the same source for their versions of the event. In fact, the accounts contradict each other to some extent in their descriptions of the events of the day, suggesting that each person wrote his or her account as remembered, not as described by Church leaders years later.
George Romney vigorously defended the veracity of the mantle stories: “I testify to you in all fervor, before God, that the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon Brigham Young. It was Joseph’s voice; absolutely Joseph’s voice and manner, as Brigham Young addressed the people and told them who should be their leader. Now this is no fiction; this is true as I stand here after so many years, passing from the year 1844 up to the present time.”37
Testimony of the Succession of the Twelve
In 1844 the Twelve were beginning to understand their role in the Church. Joseph had carefully instructed them as to their responsibilities and had given them all the keys they would need to continue with the Lord’s work,38 but they did not always understand the significance of what they heard. Brigham himself suggested that when he heard of Joseph’s death he was at first overcome, fearing the keys of the priesthood were gone. Then, he said, “I felt it come like a flash of lightening to my mind, and I said ‘the keys of the kingdom are here.’”39 When he “came to Nauvoo,” he knew “by visions of the Spirit” that from the Twelve would come a new First Presidency.40 Several years passed, however, before all the Twelve agreed. Meanwhile, the support engendered by the events of the August 1844 conference gave him, as President of the Quorum of Twelve, the authority he needed to guide the Church in the ensuing transitional period.
During the weeks following Joseph’s death, the Saints had been obviously concerned about the succession of leadership. For the many who already believed that the Twelve held the keys and the authority to the leadership of the Church, the mantle experience was an additional testimony of the rightful succession of the Twelve. For others it might have been an answer to prayer. The powerful events of August 1844 finalized loyalties for many Nauvoo Saints and resolved the direction of their religious commitment. As Wilford Woodruff recalled, the mantle manifestation was the turning point. In 1872, he reminded Church members, “There was a reason for this [the mantle experience] in the mind of God: it convinced the people.”41 By 1846 most of the Saints who attended the meeting were ready to leave Nauvoo and follow Brigham Young and the Twelve west.
Edward Hunter and Talitha Cheney affirmed in their mantle testimonies that they had no doubt that Brigham Young should lead the Church.42 Anson Call and William Allred concluded that they were “perfectly satisfied.”43 Homer Duncan pledged, “My decision was then made.”44 Mary Dunn, an eleven-year-old, soberly recalled her father’s remarks as the family was returning home from the meeting: “‘They need not hunt any farther. Brigham Young is the man to lead us.’”45
For others, however, the way was not so clear. A few families were split in their loyalties. In the case of Albert and Ada Winchell Clements, the mantle episode led to a divorce. Albert was a missionary called to serve shortly before Joseph’s death. On learning of the martyrdom, he started his journey back to Nauvoo. As he traveled home, he encountered his friend Sidney Rigdon. Sidney told him he was hurrying back to Nauvoo to take his place as guardian of the Church. Albert was satisfied with Rigdon’s position.
Albert did not arrive home until August 15, 1844, when he learned of the August 8 meeting, which his wife, Ada, had attended. She happily described the mantle event, testifying that Brigham Young had actually looked and sounded like Joseph Smith. Albert inquired about Rigdon. Ada answered that he had spoken, but the Spirit was not with him. Albert still took the side of his friend, Sidney Rigdon. Ada vowed she would continue with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and the children left in the exodus to the Rocky Mountains; Albert stayed behind.46
Though Albert refused to accept Ada’s testimony, other individuals bolstered their commitment to the Twelve through the witness of a close family member who had attended the August 1844 meeting. Sarah Studevant Leavitt accepted her husband’s testimony without question:
My husband, Jeremiah, was attending a meeting where this question was being discussed. Brigham Young was speaking when suddenly he seemed to be clothed with all the authority of Joseph Smith. Jeremiah said that he had the same appearance, the same voice, as the Prophet. If he had not known that Joseph Smith was dead, he would have thought that Brigham Young was Joseph Smith. Tears dampened many cheeks. Joy and gladness filled many hearts. The Lord had not forgotten his people. . . . After that there was no one to doubt that Brigham Young was to be our new leader and Prophet. If Brigham had any doubts, my husband Jeremiah did not.47
Aurelia Spencer Rogers acknowledged that the testimony of her sister Ellen Spencer Clawson was what “strengthened my faith in the truth of Mormonism.” Aurelia wrote:
[Ellen] was at a meeting of the Saints. . . . At this meeting, Brigham Young, who was President of the Quorum of Apostles, arose to speak, when “The Mantle of Joseph” fell upon him, and he was like one transformed; his countenance, voice and form were like those of the late Prophet. Many in the congregation, even children saw this miracle; it satisfied the people and decided the question who was to be the leader.48
Evidence of Contemporaneous Discussion of the Experience
In Nauvoo throughout the temple building period, people seem to have talked about the mantle experience and about Brigham Young’s resemblance to Joseph Smith.49 One historian, D. Michael Quinn, sums up the immediate response:
There were contemporary references to Young’s “transfiguration.” The Times and Seasons reported that just before the sustaining vote at the afternoon session of the August meeting, “every Saint could see that Elijah’s mantle had truly fallen upon the ‘Twelve.’” Although the church newspaper did not refer to Young specifically for this “mantle” experience, on 15 November 1844 Henry and Catharine Brooke wrote from Nauvoo that Young “favours Br Joseph, both in person, manner of speaking more than any person ever you saw, looks like another.” Five days later Arza Hinckley referred to “Brigham Young on [w]hom the mantle of the prophet Joseph has fallen.”50
Ezra T. Benson, who was present at the August 8 meeting, later recorded in his autobiography that “many said, when they heard Brigham talk, that it was not Brigham’s voice, but the voice of Joseph.” Benson made no claim to having seen the transfiguration himself but evidently heard others discussing their experience, which he seems to have accepted without question.51
The diary of William Burton, a missionary who returned to Nauvoo in the spring of 1845, may refer to residents talking about the mantle experience. In May 1845, he recorded events in his diary that had occurred during his absence from Nauvoo:
[That which] had taken place during the time that I was out on my mission;-that grevious and hard to be borne. This was the Martyrdom of the Prophet and Seer, and Patriarch, whose voices I could not hear, declaring the truths of Heaven. But their [Joseph’s and Hyrum’s] places were filled by others much better than I once was supposed they could have been. The spirit of Joseph appeared to rest upon Brigham.52
Burton’s use of the past tense—“the spirit of Joseph appeared to rest upon Brigham”—in the context of his discussion of events that had transpired in his absence is significant. If Burton was referring by these words to the mantle experience, he must have heard of the event from others who had been at the meetings. If this was the case, at that early date at least some Nauvoo residents were discussing the incident.
Some discussion also took place via correspondence. In a February 1845 letter, Wilford Woodruff shared the mantle news with fellow Saints in the British Isles by assuring them that
on the second day after our arrival August 8th, 1844, we met in a special conference, all the quorums, authorities, and members of the Church that could assemble in Nauvoo. [We] were addressed by elder Brigham Young, the president of the quorum of the twelve. It was evident to the Saints that the mantle of Joseph had fallen upon him, the road that he pointed out could be seen so plainly.53
Recording the Experience
The spiritual witness received at the August conference was of such magnitude that believers were willing, even eager, to follow Brigham Young and the Twelve.54 However, for one hundred and fifty years, scholars have searched for a witness account written on the same day as the mantle experience.55 If the experience was so “intense and life-changing”56 for followers of the Prophet Joseph, why were none of the accounts that record the miracle written on the day of the manifestation or shortly thereafter? It is a question that unfortunately cannot be answered definitively.
A partial explanation may be that for the Nauvoo citizens of 1844 and 1845 life was chaotic and dangerous. The citizens were stunned by events, and some did not have the luxury of good health, time, money, or even access to writing materials.57 After the death of Joseph and the acceptance of the leadership of Brigham and the Twelve, the Saint’s primary goals were to feed their families and to finish the Nauvoo Temple as quickly as possible58—a charge repeatedly given by Joseph Smith and then amplified by Brigham Young.59 In fact, Judge William Hyde recorded that Brigham Young spoke in the afternoon session of the August 8 meeting concerning the need to finish the Nauvoo Temple.60
The urgency expressed by Young motivated the Nauvoo Saints to complete as much of the temple in the next eighteen months “as had been accomplished in the previous three years.”61 He organized the brethren into work crews and continued to commit the sisters to contribute a penny a week for glass and nails. Furthermore, Brigham “put the missionary work in order, studied Joseph Smith’s plan for an expansion of gathering places, and vigorously pushed industrial development and construction.” Numerous new frame and brick homes as well as the Seventies’ Hall were erected in the next year.62
Additionally, the Nauvoo Saints were threatened by mobs and other lawless citizens, and the stresses that led to the murders of Joseph and Hyrum immediately reappeared, leading to the abandonment of Nauvoo by 1846. Grief and depression followed the martyrdom, and recurring diseases such as malaria and cholera were both endemic and virulent in this river town even during the best of times, which deterred record keeping.63 Bloody flux, summer sickness, typhoid, and tuberculosis are all named in the records of the city after Joseph’s death, in addition to the normal childhood diseases of the nineteenth century that were often fatal.64
Thirteen-year-old George Washington Bean summed up the years following the Prophet’s death as being filled with hardships such as “scurvy and blackleg.” He was forced to grow up fast: “During this season I managed most of the family business as most of my folks were ill.”65 Caroline Barnes Crosby verified that “persecution continued all around us. The brethren were obliged to be on guard all the time. The sickly season soon commenced. I was sick several weeks.”66 One of the brethren on guard was Appleton Milo Harmon, who wrote:
They arose in mob and broke open the jail and killed Joseph and Hyrum and severely wounded Elder John Taylor, on the 27th day of June, 1844. During this time I was serving as policeman on almost constant duty night and day and in so doing exposed myself to wet and cold and soon after was taken sick with chills and fever and for three months was very sick, in fact the sickest I ever was in my life. My recovery was but slowly.67
Emily Smith Hoyt explained that she was often sick two or three months at a time and her life despaired of by her friends. Her husband was in even worse health.68 In such an atmosphere, journal keeping was simply not a priority for people who were trying to survive and still accomplish the Lord’s work. In his journal, Joseph Grafton Hovey recorded:
The people said let the Lord God of Israel choose. Then the Twelve did explain the subject and made it as clear as the noon day sun of their power and authority given them by Joseph, have not time and space to write all the particulars. For I do work hard on the Temple of the Lord cutting and sawing stone and I do get so fatigued when I leave my labors that I have not much courage to write my life.69
Additionally, most of the ordinary folk did not keep records. Diary entries, if kept at all, were generally logs or daybooks. Most members, even those few who kept journals, were very circumspect and may have been uncomfortable with writing about sacred spiritual and emotional events, as many are today.70 One early Saint recorded her feelings about a vision she had experienced years before she spoke or wrote of it:
When a true spirit makes known anything to you, in the daytime, we call it a vision. If it is a true spirit it will never leave you, every particular will be as plain fifty years hence as now. I said to myself then, my [vision] I saw in Kentucky, when I thought I could almost see Zion, was a true vision, though I did not know what to call it and seldom ever spoke of it, for I thought it was given to me for my own benefit.71
Others may have not fully appreciated the pivotal importance of the meetings of that day and of the mantle experience until later in their lives. Because of the very personal nature of a spiritual experience, some Saints may have been reluctant to record their impressions. In a letter to Elder George S. Gibbs, Benjamin F. Johnson explains:
So deeply was I impressed with what I saw and heard in the transfiguration, that for years I dared not tell what was given me of the Lord to see. But when in later years I did publicly bear this testimony, I found that others had testified to having seen and heard the same. But to what proportion of the congregation that were present, I could never know. But I do know that this, my testimony is true.72
By the time they recorded their experiences, the Church’s progression under President Young’s leadership and the accounts of others who had attended the meeting had helped to validate their experience and testifying to its reality had become an honorable activity.
Early Written Accounts—Two Women’s Testimonies
It is not always possible to determine when each account was first recited or written. Two of the earliest known accounts of the mantle experience were recorded by Caroline Barnes Crosby and Emily Smith Hoyt, two formidable pioneer women. They recorded their mantle testimonies when they finally found the essential element they needed—a solid block of time. At the end of 1850, after six hectic and life-threatening years, Caroline and Emily both found the time and solitude to begin journals of their experiences. Each woman felt that the mantle story was important enough to include at the beginning of her history.
Caroline Barnes Crosby was one of the first women to be called as a missionary for the Church, assigned to serve with her husband, Jonathan Crosby.73 In 1846 the indefatigable Caroline left Nauvoo. In 1848 she helped lead her family from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Salt Lake Valley.74 Then in the spring of 1850, Jonathan and Caroline, along with Addison Pratt and Louisa Barnes Pratt (Caroline’s sister), accepted a mission assignment to the Society Islands, a group of islands in the west part of French Polynesia. During the fall of 1850, Jonathan and Addison conducted business elsewhere, leaving Caroline and Louisa alone on the island of Tubuai Manu.75 There, Caroline could finally settle down long enough to write her memoirs, including her account of the mantle experience. An educated witness, Caroline wrote:
Sidney Rigdon came to the stand and tried to show to the people that he was the rightful successor of Joseph. And his arguments were so powerful that many were almost pursuaded to believe him such. But as soon as the twelve apostles with bro Brigham Young at their head took the stand it was shown conclusively where the power rested. It was the first time that I ever thought he [Brigham] resembled bro Joseph. But almost every one exclaimed that the mantle of Joseph had fallen on Brigham. For one I never had any doubts afterwards.76
But Caroline did not write with the passion of Emily Smith Hoyt, who arrived in the Utah Territory on October 30, 1851.77 Emily was the Prophet’s cousin, the daughter of Joseph Smith’s Uncle Asael, who had served briefly as Patriarch to the Church.78 She found time to write her memoirs just before she left her home in Iowa to travel to the Utah Territory.79
In 1840, Emily and her husband, Samuel Pierce Hoyt, had purchased property just over the river from Nauvoo in Nashville (now Galland, Lee County, Iowa); erected a cabin; and then built a very substantial home with ten bedrooms and five fireplaces. Emily described her home as being just “four miles from a certain point in Nauvoo. . . . Eventually we could see the [Nauvoo] temple by standing in my front door.”80
She and her family had supported Joseph Smith from the first moment they read the Book of Mormon in 1834. After learning of the murders of Emily’s two cousins, the Hoyts traveled across the river to Nauvoo. Emily recalled, “We returned from that melancholy scene heart sick and sorrowful cast down but not in despair.”81 She continued, “We were summoned over the river again and went to hear what was wanted.”82 Thus Samuel and Emily were in Nauvoo for the meeting in the bowery on August 8, 1844, where they witnessed Brigham’s transformation. For five long years, starting in 1846, Emily’s home served as a way station for LDS refugees, a place where Saints could receive aid and nursing care before they followed the Twelve west.83
By 1851, Emily was determined that the whole world know of her unflagging testimony concerning her cousin. Knowing that the Smith family was split in their loyalties to Brigham Young, Emily began her record with her mantle testimony and justified her choices in following the Saints west. Emphasizing that she and Joseph were about the same age and that Joseph had spent much time in her home, she explained that on August 8, 1844,
President B. Y. [Brigham Young] arose from his seat . . . and addressed the audience. I had been well acquainted with Joseph the latter part of his life. We had been at his home many times and Joseph, Hiram and families felt at home with us. . . . But the God of Heaven who had said it was his business to provide for his saints, sent President B. Young home just in time, and clothed him not with “the mantle of Elijah,” but the spirit and power which had rested on Joseph. I was an eye, and ear, witness. The manner of reasoning, the expression of the countenance, the sound of the voice thrilled my whole soul. . . . I knew that Joseph was dead. And yet I often startled and involuntarily looked at the stand to see if it was not Joseph. It was not, it was Brigham Young and if any one doubts the right of Brigham to manage affairs for the Saints, all I have to say to them is this. Get the spirit of God and know for yourselves. The Lord will provide for his own.84
Emily Smith Hoyt was an educated woman, a graduate of a teachers’ academy, and not given to hyperbole or superstition. She had family ties to Joseph Smith and knew him well. She was certainly also acquainted with Brigham Young. It seems hard to imagine that she could have been duped by a “bit of theatrical mimicry.”
“The Prophet Is Not Dead!”—Children’s Testimonies
Adults were not the only witnesses of the mantle event. A number of those present at the meeting were children. William Van Orden Carbine was only nine years old in 1844, but he was well acquainted with the Prophet Joseph. He remembered sitting in the meeting with his mother, Adelia Rider Carbine, and saying, “The Prophet [is] not dead, for I [see] him on the stand.” William’s experience became a favorite story of his mother, who retold it many times.85
James Madison Fisher, an eleven-year-old who had often played ball with the Prophet Joseph, also remembered the unexpected vision of his friend:
Rigdon spoke first it did not have the wright [sic] ring to it when he sat down brother Brigham got up, the mantle of Joseph fell upon him, he was the picture of the Prophet [Joseph] and he had the Prophet’s voice it was a great surprise for the people, the saints was shown who was to be their leader.86
One of the children, eight-year-old Mary Field, specifically identified what she was doing at the time of the event. She recalled:
Mother [Mary Harding Field] had the baby on her knee, who was playing with a tin cup. He dropped it, attracting our attention to the floor. Mother stooped over to pick it up, when we were startled by hearing the voice of Joseph. Looking up quickly we saw the form of the Prophet Joseph standing before us. Brother Brigham looked and talked so much like Joseph that for a minute we thought it was Joseph.87
The Mantle Testimonies Are Finally Published
Emily Smith Hoyt and Caroline Barnes Crosby wrote their memoirs a few years after the event, long before the first detailed accounts of the mantle experience were published. It was not until the 1870s that a mantle account relating in detail the miraculous vision of Joseph was finally published and made generally accessible to the members of the Church.88
Orson Hyde’s remembrance of his mantle experience was delivered publicly in Salt Lake City on October 6, 1869, and published in the Deseret News Semi-weekly on November 16, 1869.89 But it was George Q. Cannon’s testimony that the congregation “both saw and heard [Joseph] with their natural eyes and ears,” published in the Juvenile Instructor in 1870, that became the major source for “transfiguration” accounts by Mormon historians such as B. H. Roberts in A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.90 On April 8, 1872, Wilford Woodruff publicly bore his testimony concerning the mantle experience. This testimony was published in the Deseret News Weekly on May 22, 1872.91 Cannon and Woodruff’s published testimonies were followed by other testimonies that were recorded in histories written by Edward W. Tullidge and Orson F. Whitney.92 A mantle statement from William C. Staines was published in the Contributor in June 1891, ten years after his death.93
In 1905, the young women of the Church were also presented with the deeply personal testimonies of three redoubtable Mormon women, who remembered August 8, 1844, as a day that changed their lives. Maria Wealthy Wilcox, Jane Snyder Richards, and Rachel Ridgeway Grant each wrote about their memories of Joseph the Prophet for the Young Woman’s Journal.94
Like Wilcox, Richards, and Grant, many witnesses did not write about their experience until late in their lives. Perhaps the published accounts validated their own experience; perhaps they were pressured by their children to write the story they had told over the years. As death approached, they may have felt the need to leave their written testimonies for posterity, or they may have wanted to leave a document that would silence any doubters. Several of the accounts became grand, almost poetic proclamations of belief, as though the writers felt that the formal rhetoric would lend weight to their testimonies.
Mantle Testimonies into the Twentieth Century
Mantle testimonies recorded after 1900 begin to read very much alike, probably because the participants had read the published accounts. However, significant and unique renderings were still to come. On July 2, 1902, the first known legal document concerning the mantle event made its appearance in a statement that John Welch swore before the county clerk in Logan, Cache County, Utah.95 The last documented letter testimony by a living participant of the mantle experience appeared in 1918 by Eliza Ann Haven Westover.96
Bishop George Romney twice testified publicly seventy-five years after Joseph’s death. Romney was only thirteen when he witnessed the mantle event. At age eighty-eight, he delivered his testimony in the Ensign Ward in Salt Lake City on June 22, 1919. The message was so powerful that a listener immediately recorded his words for posterity:
I shall never forget in this world or in the world to come the scene as Brigham Young arose. . . . When Brigham got up the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon him. It was Joseph’s voice; it was Joseph’s appearance, and I testify to you, if I never again do so on this earth, in the presence of God and angels, that this is verily the truth. This is true—that the mantle of Joseph did fall upon Brigham Young and the people knew it.97
With equal power, Bishop Romney also bore his testimony before the Swedish Saints in Salt Lake City on December 17, 1919. It was published for the missionaries of the Church in the April 13, 1920, edition of Liahona: The Elders’ Journal.98
At least eighty-two people have declared, through their own or others’ records, that Brigham Young took on the appearance, voice, and/or mannerisms of the Prophet Joseph Smith. When we include the records that state without further explanation that “the mantle fell on Brigham,” we can increase the number of these testimonies. These records are impressive evidence that must be weighed carefully. The introduction to the legal text Eyewitness Testimony: Civil and Criminal explains the value of eyewitness testimony: “Lawyers can neither afford to exclude eyewitness testimony legally nor ignore it. Sometimes it is the only evidence available, and it is often correct.”99
In his book In Search of Stones, psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, states, “One of the tests of proof, of reality, is termed ‘consensual validation,’ . . . [that is,] whenever two or more very different people make exactly the same extraordinary assessment of a phenomenon, then . . . it needs to be taken seriously.”100
For those who accept with little question the visions and spiritual experiences of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his associates, it is also plausible that a large body of Saints could witness a miraculous manifestation. At meetings of the School of the Prophets and gatherings at the time of the Kirtland Temple dedication, numbers of Saints experienced group manifestations.101 Nancy Alexander Tracy reported that during the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in 1836, “‘heavenly beings appeared to many.’”102 As with the mantle experience, not all the Saints present reported having seen these visions,103 nor did everyone who was reported by others to have seen a vision personally record the experience. Those to whom visions have been opened may well report seeing different things, as was the case with the personal descriptions of a manifestation shared in Hawaii by a group of Saints that included David O. McKay.104
In spite of the silence of some in regard to the events of August 8, the time lapse between the event and the written expression of others, and differences in detail or similarities in wording of the written accounts, the simple fact remains that many Saints, most of whom attended that conference in the grove behind the Nauvoo Temple, testified that they saw, heard, and/or felt a manifestation that helped determine or confirm the direction of the rest of their lives.
Appendix I: Firsthand Testimonies
The following are the testimonies of persons who left a record of their mantle experience. These records were either written in the person’s own hand or dictated by them to a scribe. Women will be listed under the name they had in August 1844. This section includes names, birth and death dates, person’s age in August 1844, testimonies, sources, and appropriate notes.
January 8, 1822–September 30, 1901, age 22
There was a great multitude attending the meeting, more than one half the crowd could not find seats, and stood on their feet. Never were so many at one meeting that I ever saw. I was sitting down and could not see the speakers on the stand. I was listening very attentively, so that I could hear every word.
I heard a voice speaking, I was surprised, and jumping to my feet, expecting Joseph the Prophet was speaking, having heard him often in public and private, so that I was quite acquainted with his voice. This was a strong testimony that the Twelve Apostles were the rightful leaders of the church and that the mouth of Joseph had fallen on Brigham Young.105
Allred, William Moore
December 24, 1819–January 8, 1901, age 24
Sidney Rigdon one of Joseph’s counselors had moved to Pittsburg, and when he heard of Joseph’s death he came to Nauvoo claiming his right to lead the Church. At least he said the Church was 14 years old and had the right to choose a guardien, but Brigham Young, the President of the twelve Apostles and others of the twelve (that had been on a mission) just got home as the meeting was called for Rigdon to preach. And after he got through Brigham got up and spoke with such power that it convinced nearly all that were present that the Mantle of Joseph had fallen on him. I was perfectly satisfied.106
December 19, 1828–November 19, 1907, age 15
Soon the twelve Began to return, also Sidney Rigdon who endeavored to have himself elected as guardain of the Church and I was presant when he made his silly and boastful, speach about leading the Church back to Pittsburg and Twerling the nose of Queen Victoria &c. &c. Too foolish to be worth remembering I did not know Rigdon when he was in the Spirit of his Calling and cannot say what manner of Man he was. but when I knew him he had lost the favor of God and he was as dry as sticks in his preaching
I was in the congregation when the Question of the succesion to the leadership of the Church was before the people and I solemly assert and testify that the last time I saw the Features. the Gestures and heard the sound of the voice of Joseph Smith: was when the form, voice, and countanance of Brigham Young was tranfiguard before the congregation so that he appeared like Joseph Smith in every particular. Thus the Lord showed the people that the Mantle of Joseph had been bestowed upon Brigham.107
September 8, 1808–November 5, 1894, age 35
The next day President Brigham Young arived in Nauvoo with some of the other apostles from a Mission to the Eastern States And Called a meeting and invited Sidney Rigdon to the Stand and in the presance of the assembled thousands of the Saints Said to Sidney Now if you have any thing to say you have the apertunity and you can take the stand[.] But Sidney declined and kept his seat. President young then arose and took the stand his face and Countinence having the apearanc[e] of Joseph his voice and words were the familiar voice and Words of our martered prophet so much so the Who[l]e Congregation was fully satisfied that the mantle of the Prophet Joseph had fallen on him and some of the saints realy Believed it was in reality the Prophet himself[.] Well do I remember the feelings that possesed my Breast at that time I knew it was Brigham Young and being familiar with the Countinance voice and the maner of the Speech of the Prophet Joseph Smith I also knew the mantle of the prophet had fallen on Brigham and it was marvelous and a mericle wrought by the Power of God in the Sight and hearing of the Whole multitude that they might never doubt that Brigham was the Chosen leader of the Church.108
Bowen, Cynthia Harrington Durphy/Durfey
November 30, 1811–November 1883, age 32
While at the prayer meeting that was called after hearing Sydney Rigdon speak an event that gave me great strength took place. Brigham Young stood before us & as I listened to him, his countenance changed & I saw the prophet Joseph Smith & heard his voice speaking as well & I knew who was to be the next prophet of the Lord & who was to lead the Saints.109
[no available dates]
On 15 November 1844, Henry and Catharine Brooke wrote from Nauvoo that Brigham Young “favours Br Joseph, both in person, & manner of speaking more than any person ever you saw, looks like another.”110
Buckwalter, Henry Schuler
May 12, 1831–November 6, 1908, age 13
Was at the meeting when Sid[n]ey Rigdon tried to lay claim to the presidency of the Church And President Brigham Young told him different and his voice and looks was precisely like that of the Prophet Joseph.111
December 23, 1816–February 10, 1885, age 27
They [Joseph and Hyrum] were two good men when living, and they died good men; they died martyrs for the truth, and they sealed their testimony with their blood; and their testimony is true. . . .
The mantle of Joseph fell on Brigham Young, the blood of the martyrs became as seed on the earth.112
Burton, Robert Taylor
October 25, 1821–November 11, 1907, age 22
This morning, at the Presiding Bishop’s Office, after reading what purported to be an appeal to the Latter-day Saints by Frederick J. Smith in regard to the successor of the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr., I had occasion, in conversation with Bishop O. P. Miller to refer to my experience in Nauvoo, Illinois some time after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and upon his request, I made the following statement:
This to my mind was one of the most critical periods in the history of the Church. A number of persons claimed the legal succession, and to have this authority, among them Sidney Rigdon, James J. Strang, Aaron and Moses Smith and others. The occasion that I now refer to was a general meeting of the Latter-day Saints, soon after the return to Nauvoo of President Brigham Young and other members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, from their missions. The meeting had been called to order, and after the usual opening exercises President Brigham Young arose to address the assembly.
At that time I was not acquainted with President Young, but his voice, manner, expression, and in fact, his personal appearance was so strikingly that of the martyred Prophet, that I rose from my seat, as did hundreds of others, to look at the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. The likeness was so marked that I could hardly make myself believe that the Prophet had not himself returned; not that there was a resemblance between the two men. I am not going to say why this was other than I received it, as an evidence to the people that God had chose Brigham Young as successor to the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. There were dozens, even hundreds of others, who were impressed just the same as I was at that time, and I have heard many, many who are now gone make similar statements or expressions to that I am here making.
(signed) R. T. Burton113
October 3, 1809–March 17, 1851, age 34
We arrived in Nauvoo in May . . . there was one change more that had taken place during the time that I was out on my mission; -that grevious and hard to be borne. This was the Martyrdom of the Prophet and Seer, and Patriarch, whose voices I could not hear, declaring the truths of Heaven. But their [Joseph’s and Hyrum’s] places were filled by others much better than I once was supposed they could have been. The spirit of Joseph appeared to rest upon Brigham. . . . Great and mysterious are the ways of God!114
May 13, 1810–August 31, 1890, age 34
That week, Brigham Young and others of the 12 came to the city. On the Sunday following, Brigham and a portion of the Twelve presented themselves in our congregation. He said he had not come to electioneer, nor set up any particular claim, but to do his duty, and it was for the people to judge between truth and error. Before he [Brigham] had spoken many sentences, I discovered that it was the voice of Joseph, and had I have been where my eyes could not have beheld him, I should have believed that Joseph had been speaking. It was Joseph’s voice and Joseph’s gestures through the entire discourse, I became perfectly satisfied that it was the voice for me to follow in connection with the majority of the brethren.115
Cannon, George Q.
January 11, 1827–April 12, 1901, age 17
It was the first sound of his voice [Brigham’s] which the people had heard since he had gone east on his mission, and the effect upon them was most wonderful. Who that was present on that occasion can ever forget the impression it made upon them! If Joseph had risen from the dead and again spoken in their hearing, the effect could not have been more startling than it was to many present at that meeting. It was the voice of Joseph himself; and not only was it the voice of Joseph which was heard; but it seemed in the eyes of the people as though it was the very person of Joseph which stood before them. A more wonderful and miraculous event than was wrought that day in the presence of that congregation we never heard of. The Lord gave His people a testimony that left no room for doubt as to who was the man He had chosen to lead them. They both saw and heard with their natural eyes and ears, and then the words which were uttered came, accompanied by the convincing power of God, to their hearts, and they were filled with the Spirit and with great joy. There had been gloom, and, in some hearts probably, doubt and uncertainty; but now it was plain to all that here was the man upon whom the Lord had bestowed the necessary authority to act in their midst in Joseph’s stead.116
January 15, 1835–May 8, 1917, age 9
I heard Brother Brigham speak and that is the first time that I ever saw two men look and sound so much alike in all my life. And after he had sat down, I wondered where Joseph had gone.117
Crosby, Caroline Barnes
January 5, 1807–February 16, 1884, age 37
Sidney Rigdon came to the stand and tried to show to the people that he was the rightful successor of Joseph. And his arguments were so powerful that many were almost pursuaded to believe him such. But as soon as the twelve apostles with bro Brigham Young at their head took the stand it was shown conclusively where the power rested. It was the first time that I ever thought he [Brigham] resembled bro Joseph. But almost every one exclaimed that the mantle of Joseph had fallen on Brigham. For one I never had any doubts afterwards. We all soon became comforted concerning our leaders, but persecution continued all around us. The brethren were obliged to be on guard all the time.118
January 19, 1815–March 23, 1906, age 29
I must make mention on one [more] manifestation of the Lord’s goodness to me. At the special meeting held at Nauvoo after the Prophet Joseph Smith’s death at the time that the mantle of the Prophet of the Lord fell upon Brigham Young. I sat listening to someone speaking with my head down, my face in the palms of my hands and my elbows on my knees. While in this position, Brigham Young came to the stand and commenced to speak with the voice of Joseph the Prophet. Being so well acquainted with the Prophet’s voice, I nearly sprang from my seat through astonishment, but I sat and heard the Prophet’s [Joseph’s] voice as long as Brigham Young was speaking. Not only did the voice of Brigham [sound] like that of Joseph, but the very gestures of his right hand when he was saying anything very positive reminded me of Joseph. My decision was then made as to who should lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for surely the mantle of Joseph has fallen upon Brigham.119
July 1, 1819–December 29, 1893, age 25
The Prophet concluded to run for the President of the United States. I was called to the State of New York on an electioneering mission to which place I immediately started where I labored untill the death of the Prophet when I received a letter from President Young calling the Elders home. I was present at the meeting which tried President Sydney Rigdon, where I plainly saw the Mantle of the Priesthood fall upon President Young with its power and spirit. The testimony of this was given to most of the congregation.120
February 1, 1836–July 20, 1943, age 8
After Joseph Smith’s death there was some confusion as to who should be our leader. Sidney Rigdon claimed to have had a vision that he should be our head, but I, with my mother, was present at the meeting in the bowery when the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young while he was talking with the people. Mother had the baby on her knee, who was playing with a tin cup. He dropped it, attracting our attention to the floor. Mother stooped over to pick it up, when we startled by hearing the voice of Joseph. Looking up quickly we saw the form of the Prophet Joseph standing before us. Brother Brigham looked and talked so much like Joseph that for a minute we thought it was Joseph. There was no doubt in the hearts of the Saints from that moment on who was to be their inspired leader.
After Brigham Young was sustained as our prophet and leader, the Church was again restored to order under his guiding hand. The Saints were anxious to complete the Nauvoo Temple, as they had been commanded by the Prophet Joseph before his death. By hard work and determination the Saints completed the temple and large numbers received their endowments there. 121
Fisher, James Madison
July 22, 1833–January 1, 1907, age 11
The twelve apostles were all away from home, before they got back Sydney Rigdon wanted to call a meeting and have the people choose him for their leader the people said no wait untill the twelve comes home. Brigham Young was the first to arive after they all come home there was a meeting caled to choose a leader it was held in a grove where they held meetings in the summer time. I was there, Rigdon spoke first it did not have the wright ring to it when he sat down brother Brigham got up, the mantle of Joseph fell upon him, he was the picture of the Prophet [Joseph] and he had the Prophet’s voice it was a great surprise for the people, the saints was shown who was to be their leader, Rigdon left the Church went to Penn. and started a Church of his own wich soon flatened out.122
Garner, Mary Field
See Field, Mary
March 9, 1811–April 14, 1892, age 33
After the Death of Joseph and Hyrum the Excitement Seemed [?] to die away. Meantime Sidney Rigdon who was a Counsiller to Joseph arived and attempted to userpe arthority over the Church as the Succeser of Joseph but the Church was saved by the timely arival of the Twelve and the Spirit of God which always teaches right and the result was that Rigdon was cut of from the Church for his miss conduct and went up to Pittsburg followed by a few who were men as himself whose mouth was ful of cursing and biterness. The Power of the Preasthood rested down upon the Twelve backed up by the Spirit of God which enabled them to give that instruction which [seemed] to unite the harts of the Saints together as the heart of one Man. They moved forward to build the Temple.123
Glines, James Harvey
April 19, 1822–August 31, 1905, age 22
I arrived in time to hear Sidney Rigdon’s last lectures before the Church. President Brigham Young and others of the twelve apostles now arrived and appointed a meeting in the grove at the stand east of the temple block. . . .
Sidney Rigdon stopped speaking. President Brigham Young stood up and commenced speaking, and all eyes were turned upon him for he seemed to have the voice of the prophet Joseph, as many testified at the time, for he spoke with great power and authority to the convincing of the Saints that the mantle had fallen from Joseph to Brigham.124
Grant, Rachel Ridgeway Ivins
See Ivins, Rachel Ridgeway
Greenhalgh, Mary Clough/Cluff
March 18, 1814–December 16, 1851, age 30
See Greenhalgh, William
July 29, 1811–April 3, 1882, age 33
In a few days Sidney Rigdon came up to Nauvoo to see if the people would accept him as a guardian to act for Joseph. He told the people if they did not accept him, God would reject them as a people with their dead. He was to return to Pittsburg and God would raise up a people at Pittsburg for him. With uplifted hands he called on God and angels to bear him witness. He spoke next day to them and (to) see if the people would accept him.
Just at this time came home Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. The morning following Brigham Young ordered the people to bring a wagon to the south side of the congregation that the people could all hear what he had to say. Brigham rose and said, “I would to God, there was not such a hurried spirit here.” He spoke with such power and the voice of Joseph sounded through him so plain that the people who could not see him, knew that it was the voice of Joseph speaking through Brigham Young. My wife Mary sitting close by me not able to turn her head asked me if that was Joseph. I told her no, but it was the voice of Joseph speaking through Brigham Young. This was a living testimony that the mantle had fallen from Joseph on to Brigham—and from this time many wanted to well off and part from the Saints—But Brigham forbid them and told them that the flock must not be scattered.125
April 2, 1819–August 31, 1886, age 25
Come the 24th when I arived at Nauvoo I saw thare was a gertherin of the Saints at the Stand as I drew nere I saw Mr. Sidney Rigdon [a]ddressing the Congregation I listened a few minits and Said in my hart it was not the vois of the trew Sepherd.126
At Nauvoo I found Sidney Rigdon busy among the Saints, trying to establish his claim to the presidency of the Church. He was first Counselor to the Prophet Joseph at the time of the latter’s death. The Church was fourteen years old, and he claimed that it was its privilege and duty to appoint a guardian; and he wished the people to sanction his guardianship.
I was much dissatisfied with the course he was taking, and, as I could not sustain him, I felt to leave Nauvoo for a season. I went into the country, where I had left my wife and two children with my sister Melissa. . . .
On the 8th of August, 1844, I attended a general meeting of the Saints. Elder Rigdon was there, urging his claims to the presidency of the Church. His voice did not sound like the voice of the true shepherd. When he was about to call a vote of the congregation to sustain him as President of the Church, Elders Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt and Heber C. Kimball stepped into the stand.
Brigham Young remarked to the congregation: “I will manage this voting for Elder Rigdon. He does not preside here. This child” (meaning himself) “will manage this flock for a season.” The voice and the gestures of the man were those of the Prophet Joseph.
The people, with few exceptions, visibly saw that the mantle of the prophet Joseph had fallen upon Brigham Young. To some it seemed as though Joseph again stood before them.
I arose to my feet and said to a man sitting by me, “That is the voice of the true shepherd—the chief of the Apostles.”127
Hancock, Mosiah Lyman
April 9, 1834–January 14, 1907, age 10
Altho only a boy, I saw the mantle of the Prophet Joseph rest on Brigham Young; and he arose lion-like to the occasion, and lead the people forth. . . .
I remember Sidney Rigdon in his great desire to become Guardian of the Church. But I had seen the Prophet [Joseph] proclaim these words before the people, “I have carried Sidney Rigdon long enough—I now throw him from my shoulders. If my brother Hyrum wishes to pick him up and carry him, he may—I carry him no longer.”
I saw Brother Brigham Young, of the Quorum of the Twelve, arise before the people—and I saw in him the look of Joseph, and the voice of Joseph; and it seemed to me that he was as tall as Joseph too. I knew that the mantle of Joseph had fallen on Brigham. I had heard the Prophet say from the frame that he threw the furtherence of this Church and Kingdom upon the shoulders of the Twelve; that they should bear and send this Gospel to every nation under heaven.128
Harper, John Nelson
March 9, 1813–March 31, 1863, age 31
When the Twelve returned home the Saints was troubled to know who should lead the Church; Sidney Rigdon was there from Pittsburg and wanted to choose a guardian for the Church, but when Bro Brigham arose on the stand I received a testimony for myself, he appeared to me as if it was Bro Joseph and it was Joseph’s voice and there the mantle of Joseph fell on Brigham. He [Brigham] said it was no enviable place to stand at the head of the people for at them the arrows of the enemy would be directed. But he was willing to stand where God placed him.129
Haven, Eliza Ann
May 15, 1829–January 20, 1923, age 15
The question was a general one: “What shall we do without our Prophet?” I was then 15 years of age and we all felt so sad. I was at the meeting when Sidney Rigdon arose and declared himself our true Prophet and leader. Very few responded to his declaration. I am happy to say that not one of my fathers family felt he was the right one. Soon after Pres. Brigham Young came home from the East, where he had been on a mission. I was at the meeting when the mantle of Bro. Joseph’s encircled him. . . . When he spoke, it was in Bro. Joseph’s voice. I arose to my feet and said to my mother: “Our prophet has come to life, mother we have Bro. Joseph back”, for there he stood as plain as I ever saw him in life; and his voice and features were truly those of our beloved Prophet. Shortly a mist seemed to pass from Bro. Brigham’s face and there stood brother Young talking in his natural voice, but we knew he was to be our leader. Hundreds witnessed the same thing, but not all that were there had that privilege.130
Hendricks, Drusilla Dorris
February 8, 1810–May 20, 1881, age 34
It was not long before Sidney Rigdon called a meeting in order to present his claims to the presidency of the Church. Some of the Twelve had returned from their missions and the day the meeting was held and while it was in session, Brigham Young (President of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles) and others slipped up to the stand and said nothing until Sidney Rigdon was through, he was standing near the center of the audience in a wagon. As the meeting was in the Boury [Bowery]. Then Pres. Brigham Young began to speak. I jumped up to look and see if it was not Brother Joseph for surely it was his voice and gestures. Every Latter Day Saint could easily see upon whom the priesthood descended for Brigham Young held the keys. Sidney Rigdon led off a few, but where are they now. They have dwindled away in unbelief and have come to naught.131
Hinckley, Arza Erastus
August 15, 1827–February 18, 1901, age 16
The entry after 20 November 1844 in the diary of Arza Hinckley at Brigham Young University states: “‘. . . and Brigham Young on hom the mantle of the prophet Joseph has falen is a men of god and he ceeps all things in good order.’”132
Hoyt, Emily Smith
September 1, 1806–August 6, 1893, age 37
[After the martyrdom] we [Emily and Samuel] were summoned over the river again and went to hear what was wanted. Brigham Young then President of the twelve had returned home. The people were convened in the Old Bowry where Joseph had last spoken to the people. Sydney Rigdon made a speech and claimed to have authority to lead the Church others had similar claims. None appeared reasonable to me. The last one arose. It was the then, President of the twelve Brigham Young. He spoke to the people altogether in a different style from any of those, who had preceeded him. A crowd of witnessses arose after B. Y. had sat down and testified to the truth of what he had said. President B. Y. arose from his seat the second time and addressed the audience. I had been well acquainted with Joseph the latter part of his life. We had been at his home many times and Joseph, Hiram and families felt at home with us. [Emily writes of events leading to martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum.] . . . But the God of Heaven who had said it was his business to provide for his saints, sent President B. Young home just in time, and clothed him not with “the mantle of Elijah,” but the spirit and power which had rested on Joseph. I was an eye, and ear, witness. The manner of reasoning, the expression of the countenance, the sound of the voice thrilled my whole soul. My own eyes had beheld Joseph’s murdered body. My own hands, had felt death’s icy coldness on his once noble forehead. I knew that Joseph was dead. And yet I often startled and involuntarily looked at the stand to see if it was not Joseph. It was not, it was Brigham Young and if any one doubts the right of Brigham to manage affairs for the Saints, all I have to say to them is this. Get the spirit of God and know for yourselves. The Lord will provide for his own. Has the word of the Lord ever failed. Br Young will not live forever clothed with mortality. But He who rules in heaven and on earth will control all things by the counsel of his own will. Saints will live.133
Huntington, Zina Diantha
January 13, 1821–August 27, 1901, age 23
I went to meeting in the afternoon, Thanks be to Him who reigns on high, the majority of the Twelve are her[e]. Brigham Youngs spoke and the Church voted that the 12 should act in the office of there calling next to Joseph or the three first presidents.134
Never can it be told in words what the saints suffered in those days of trial; but the sweet spirit—the comforter—did not forsake them; and when the twelve returned, the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham.
When I approached the stand (on the occasion when Sidney Rigdon was striving for the guardianship of the Church), President Young was speaking. It was the voice of Joseph Smith—not that of Brigham Young. His very person was changed. The mantle was truly given to another. There was no doubting this in the minds of that vast assembly. All witnessed the transfiguration, and even to-day thousands bear testimony thereof. I closed my eyes. I could have exclaimed, I know that is Joseph Smith’s voice! Yet I knew he had gone. But the same spirit was with the people; the comforter remained.135
January 8, 1805–November 28, 1878, age 39
I will tell you that as long as God has a Church on the earth, He will govern it. Now I will tell you a little of my feelings in relation to it. I know that when President Young returned with the Twelve to Nauvoo, he gathered them around him, and said he: “I want you to disperse among the congregation and feel the pulse of the people while I go upon the stand and speak.”
We went among the congregation and President Young went on the stand. Well, he spoke; and his words went through me like electricity. “Am I mistaken?” said I, “or is it really the voice of Joseph Smith?” This is my testimony, it was not only the voice of Joseph, but there were the features, the gestures and even the stature of Joseph there before us in the person of Brigham. And though it may be said that President Young is a complete mimic, and can mimic anybody, I would like to see the man who can mimic another in stature who was about four or five inches higher than himself.—every one who was inspired by the spirit of the Lord, felt it. They knew it. They realized it.
I sat myself down in the midst of the congregation, with my two wives, whom Joseph had given and sealed to me. When President Young began to speak, one of them said: “It is the voice of Joseph! It is Joseph Smith!” The exclamation of the other was,—“I do not see him, where is he?[”] Well the thought occurred to my mind respecting the Scripture which President Young has just quoted:—“My sheep know my voice and follow me.” Where is the one that recognized the voice of Joseph in President Young? Where is she? She is in the line of her duty. But where is the other? Gone where I wish she were not. The sheep of the good shepherd will follow the voice they know; but they will not follow the voice of a stranger.
Now, this was a manifestation of the power of the Almighty—it was the power of God resting on an individual in the eyes of all the people; not only in feature and voice, but actually in stature. This is my testimony. . . . Did it require proof that Joseph was there in the person of Brigham, speaking with an angel’s voice? It required no argument; with those who feared God and loved truth, it required none.136
At the time our Prophet and Patriarch were killed, or at least soon afterwards, when the Twelve returned to Nauvoo, their immediate circumstances were not altogether agreeable and pleasant or profitable. But suffice it to say we had a meeting, a Conference, at which President Young was the centre of attraction. On his rising to speak, and as soon as he opened his mouth, I heard the voice of Joseph through him, and it was as familiar to me as the voice of my wife, the voice of my child, or the voice of my father. And not only the voice of Joseph did I distinctly and unmistakably hear, but I saw the very gestures of his person, the very features of his countenance, and if I mistake not, the very size of his person appeared on the stand. And it went through me with the thrill of conviction that Brigham was the man to lead this people. And from that day to the present there had not been a query or a doubt upon my mind with regard to the divinity of his appointment; I know that he was the man selected of God to fill the position he now holds.137
September 11, 1818–March 2, 1874, age 25
On Thursday, August the 8th, I attended a special conference in Nauvoo. Elder Rigdon addressed the assembly in the forenoon. Elder Rigdon sought, as he expressed it, the guardianship of the Church, but it was plainly manifest that the Spirit of the Lord had withdrawn from him, and that he sought that which did not belong to him. From the time the saints were driven from Missouri he had evidently been on the background, and had not walked up to his station, and on one occasion I heard Joseph Smith say that he had carried Elder Rigdon on his back long enough, and then turning to the Twelve said that if they did not help him at that time in shaking him off, the time would come when they would have to do, and that without his, Joseph’s assistance. And on Thursday, the 8th of August, was this saying of the Prophet brought home with weight to my mind.
In the afternoon President Brigham Young came upon the stand and addressed the vast multitude of anxious listeners as follows: “For the first time the Twelve walk up to the stand in their place, we have walked by sight and not by faith. The Church had had the privilege of coming to Joseph and of receiving, but now he has stepped to the other side of the veil. He loved the Church even unto death, and laid down his life for it.” President Young then asked the following questions: “Do you want to choose a person to lead you into the Kingdom, if so manifest it.” All were silent. “If there is any person present that wishes to draw away party after them let them rise.” But no one rose. “I have wanted,” said President Young, “to fast thirty days, and clothe my house in mourning, but it seems that the saints are determined to drive business. They are not willing to wait and let everything come in its place, but business must be driven, and as it falls to my lot to speak, I shall speak in plainess. Do you want President Rigdon to take Joseph’s place, if so take him. Here are the Twelve. Have my knees ever faltered, have these hands ever slackened?” “No.” and “No.” said voices from all directions. “[T]he Twelve hold the keys and are in authority equal with the First President when the first is absent. Do you want to choose a trustee in trust to take Joseph’s place, if so the Twelve must ordain him, for the power rests in them, and in them alone, the Church cannot do it. . . .”
And then he said that if Elder Rigdon wanted to be a spokesman for Joseph, let him go to the other side of the veil. “Who,” said he, “ever heard of such a thing as a person on one side of the veil acting as a spokesman for a person on the other side.” The President further stated that no person could stand between Joseph and the Twelve. And then turning to the people, said it was their place to rise up and help roll on the Kingdom. “But let us not undertake anything new, let us follow the law and not undertake to divide the Priesthood one hair.”
Elders P. P. Pratt and Amasa Lyman made some very appropriate remarks, confirming what President Young had said. . . .
President Young again arose and spoke concerning the endowments of the Elders. Said that if they did not get them in the Temple, they should have them if they had to receive them in the wilderness, for the Devil could not cheat them out of them. He then called upon the saints to know if they would receive the Twelve and let them stand in their place as the First Presidency of the Church in the absense of Joseph. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative. On this day it was plainly manifest that the mantle of Joseph had rested upon President Young. The voice of the same spirit by which he, Joseph, spake was this day sounded in our ears, so much so that I once, unthoughtedly, raised my head to see if it was not actually Joseph addressing the assembly. The assembly was dismissed by President Young after being blessed in the name of the Lord.138
Ivins, Rachel Ridgeway
March 7, 1821–January 27, 1909, age 23
After the Prophet’s death when Sidney Rigdon came to Nauvoo and spoke, he thought that it was his right and privilege to be President of the Church. President Young jumped right up on the seat and spoke. If you had had your eyes shut, you would have thought it was the Prophet [Joseph]. In fact he looked like him, his very countenance seemed to change, and he spoke like him.139
Johnson, Benjamin Franklin
July 28, 1818–November 18, 1905, age 26
Of Brigham Young as President of the Church, I will again bear this as a faithful testimony that I do know and bear record that upon the head of Brigham Young as chief, with the Apostleship in full, was by the voice of the Prophet Joseph, in my hearing, laid the full responsibility of bearing of the Kingdom of God to all the world. And I do further bear this as a testimony, faithful and true, to the Church and to all the world that at a conference of the whole Church, at Nauvoo, subsequent to the Prophet’s death and before the return of the absent Apostles, that I sat in the assembly near President Rigdon, closely attentive to his appeal to the conference to recognize and sustain his claim as “Guardian for the Church.” And was, perhaps, to a degree, forgetful of what I knew to be the rights and duties of the apostleship, and as he closed his address and sat down, my back was partly turned to the seats occupied by Apostle Brigham Young and other Apostles, when suddenly, and as from Heaven, I heard the voice of the Prophet Joseph, that thrilled my whole being, and quickly turning around I saw in the transfiguration of Brigham Young, the tall, straight and portly form of the Prophet Joseph Smith, clothed in a sheen of light, covering him to his feet; and I heard the real and perfect voice of the Prophet, even to the whistle, as in years past caused by the loss of a tooth said to have been broken out by a mob at Hyrum. This vision, or view, although but for seconds, was to me a vivid and real as the glare of lightening or the voice of thunder from the heavens, and so deeply was I impressed with what I saw and heard in the transfiguration, that for years I dared not tell what was given me of the Lord to see. But when in later years I did publicly bear this testimony, I found that others had testified to having seen and heard the same. But to what proportion of the congregation that were present, I could never know. But I do know this, my testimony is true.
The Prophet’s lost tooth, to which I allude, was, as generally understood, broken out by the mob at Hyrum while trying to pry open his mouth to strangle him with acid, from which time, until the tooth was replaced by a dentist neighbor, a year or two previous to his death, there had been a whistle-like sound accompanying all his public speaking which I again plainly heard at the time of which I write.
And while I do know that Brigham Young, as President of the Church, was the right man in the right place, and a great leader for Israel, I still know that he never claimed to be perfect in all his ways, but that, like his brethren, he at times was liable to mistakes.140
At the time of the martyrdom all the Quorum of the Twelve were absent except John Taylor and Dr. Richards, both of whom were with the Prophet in the Carthage jail, and Sidney Rigdon having retained a partial fellowship as one of Joseph’s counselors, came forward claiming the right of Guardian of the Church. James J. Strang also claimed through a spurious revelation purporting to be through the Prophet that he should lead the Church. And so matters stood until the return of the Twelve, when a conference was assembled, and President Rigdon was called upon to put forth his claim before the people, which he did, and after closing his remarks, which were void of all power or influence, President Brigham Young arose and spoke. I saw him arise, but as soon as he spoke I jumped upon my feet, for in every possible degree it was Joseph’s voice, and his person, in look, attitude, dress and appearance was Joseph himself, personified; and I knew in a moment the spirit and mantle of Joseph was upon him. Then I remembered his saying to the Council of which Sidney Rigdon was never a member, and I knew for myself who was now the leader of Israel.141
Judd, Zadoc Knapp
October 15, 1827–January 28, 1909, age 16
Right here I might relate another circumstance that to me was a sufficient testimony of the truth of the Gospel. I had for years been more or less acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. I had many many times heard him preach; had heard him talk with others in common conversation. I had known his voice as well as I do that of my most intimate friend. . . . [T]his circumstance I am going to relate happened late in the fall or early winter. The people had usually convened for meeting [in] a little grove near the temple. A bowery had been built, and seats arranged to accommodate all. . . . In the meantime the building of the temple had progressed; the roof was on, the windows were in, the floor was laid, but no seats arranged. It was very cold, wet Sunday and a drizzling rain. The meeting had been adjourned from the grove to the temple for there people could get shelter. While waiting for the people to gather and also for the hour of meeting, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and some others of the quorum of the twelve had come to an upper room or kind of gallery and seemed to be passing and repassing an open door and window and from the position I had chosen, which was next to the wall and near the stand, I could see them very plainly, and although I knew Joseph was dead, I could scarcely make myself believe he was not there. His [Brigham’s] look, his motion, his walk, were precisely like that of Joseph and yet it was Brigham Young, and when he came and commenced to speak to the people his voice was like that of Joseph’s.
In the meantime people had gathered in and standing, huddled close together, made such an immense weight on the floor that the propping under the center gave way and let the floor settle a few inches, which caused a panic among the people and some tried to rush for the door, but the loud voice of the prophet Joseph soon restored quiet and only a few were hurt by being pushed down and stepped on. No damage was done, only a few broken windows.
The change of voice and appearance I could not account for only that the mantle of Joseph had fallen on Brigham Young.142
October 5, 1814–November 14, 1877, age 29
Now after the death of Br. Joseph & Hyrum, Sidney Rigdon having A mision appointed him by Joseph to Pittsburg before his death. Now after his death Sidney came in all the hast[e] in him to Nauvoo from Pittsburg to claime the presidency of the church, him not knowing that Joseph Sent him out of the way to get r[i]d of him. Now when he returned to Nauvoo he called all the people to gether to choos them a guardian, as he Expressed himself. Now, Said he, the Church is 14 years old and it was the duty of the church to choose a guardien & preached there for Two days on that subject of guardinism & the Lords way was not as mans ways, But as the heavens are hier than the earth So are the Lords ways above mans ways, etc. Just about the time that the Vote was to be taken for him to be president & guardien, But as the Lord would have the Twelve to come home & I felt to praise God to See Bro Brigham Young walk upon the stand then. Thes[e] positive Revelations of Rigdon’s ware only guess So, & he thinks So & hoap so, while the lord had told him how to proseed before according to his one [own] mouth & after wards ony Suposed them so.
Now when President Young arose to address the congregation his Voice was the Voice of Bro. Joseph and his face appeared as Joseph’s face, & Should I not have seen his face but herd his Voice I Should have declared that it was Joseph.143
February 19, 1809–August 10, 1890, age 35
Upon arriving in Nauvoo he—Sidney—immediately appointed a meeting for the people to choose a Guardian for the church. Fortunately the Twelve with the President Brigham Young, arrived in time to attend this meeting.—Sidneys intentions was to hold this meeting before the Twelve arrived.—
The meeting was held according to appointment, Sidney Rigdon addressing us, giving his views upon our situation and called upon the people to choose a Guardian or trustee for the church, but there seemed to be no spirit of the Gospel in his remarks, and it was evident to all that he was not dictated by the Holy Ghost.
A Meeting was appointed or rather continued as a Special Conference and in the afternoon and President Brigham Young addressed the people. At this meeting the soieit [spirit] was truly manifest inasmuch it seemed that Joseph himself was addressing us, the voice, the countenance was Joseph. The mantle of Joseph had indeed fallen upon Brigham Young. There was no dubiaty now, if there had been any before, who held the power. All could see and bore testimony that the spirit had manifested to them that Brigham Young was the right man, and he was in the right place. Said Joseph with his hands upon the head of Brigham Young, in the house of John P. Green at quincy, “While you live no other man can occupy this place.”
. . . President Brigham Young gave his views of the present situation of the church, now our Prophet and patriarch is taken from our midst. He said,
“. . . While the Prophet lived, we walked by ‘sight’ he is taken from us, and we must now walk by ‘faith’.” After he had explained matters so satisfactory that every Saint present could see that as aforetime the—mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha—so also fell the mantle or the spirit and power which Joseph held in his life time had fallen upon Brigham Young as President of the Twelve, which was the hightest Quorum, and holding the highest—or first Presidency—of the Church of God upon the earth.144
Merrill, Phileman Christopher
1820–1904, age 24
Sad was the day that the Saints met by a call of the Apostles in a Grove, east of our beloved Temple which was unfinished, to listen to what might be said. For where was the good Shepherd? We were left alone as we thought, with none to lead us. It was a gloomy time. Sidney Rigdon talked to us and said we were of age, choose our guardian and he offered himself as that one to lead the Church but it did not satisfy the people. But when President Brigham Young arose and said to the people, “Stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord,” the Spirit of God rested upon me, and I received a testimony at that time that upon Brigham Young rested the Authority of the Holy Priesthood.145
August 24, 1816–June 27, 1897, age 27
Sidney Rigdon set up his Clame as Guardain of the Church—Saying that it was not of Age to do Buisness for itself being Only about 14 years of Age—and as he was the next in athoraty to Joseph —it was his Duty to act as Guardain for it untill it was Old enough to do Business for itself—on the 5th of Augast 1844 a special meeting was apointed for the Church to come together to here what he had to say upon the subject—he ocupied the time in the forenoon.—in the afternoon Presedent Young arose to reply to what he had said—and when he arose to speak I was sitting right Before Him holding down my Head—reflecting about what Rigdon had said—when I was startled by Earing Josephs Voice—he had a way of Clearing his Throat before he began to speak—by a peculier Effort of His own—like Ah-hem—I raised my Head sudinly—and the first thing I saw was Joseph—as plain as I ever saw Him in my life—and the first words he uttered whare, Right here—is the Athoraty to Lead This Church—and at the same time srikeing his hand upon his Bosam and, after uttering another sentance or two—it was Brigham Young—That was Testemony anough to Convince me where the Proper athoraty rested.146
Pace, William Bryam
February 9, 1832–June 18, 1907, age 12
Sidney Rigdon spent, what seemed to me several hours, harrangueing the people on the importance of making him their Leader, after which, Brigham Young arose and said only a word, when it was observed by the whole congregation that the mantle of “Joseph” was upon him, in word, gesture and general appearance.
The people arose en-masse to their feet astonished, as it appeared that Joseph had returned and was speaking to the people.
I was small and got upon a bench that I might more fully witness the “Phenonomia.”
There was no longer any question as to who was the Leader.147
[October 8, 1825] October 26, 1828–February 16, 1914, age 15
I was acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and saw him in death, and one of the strongest testimonies I ever had of the truth of this Latter-day work was when President Young got up before the people and the spirit of the Prophet [Joseph] rested upon him, and his countenance resembled the Prophet, and his voice sounded like the Prophet’s, so the Lord showed the people who and where the leader was for there were several clamoring as to their right to lead the church. “The mantle which our prophet wore was sought for by a half a score.” But God knew the very man so therefore it fell upon Brigham Young, and with few exceptions, the people went to their homes rejoicing and contented.148
Porter, Nathan Tanner
July 10, 1820–April 9, 1897, age 24
It was now a matter of question with Some as to who Should lead the Church, which caused mutch comment in private circles, and many conjectures to arrise in the minds of the People, as to who was the Legitemate Successor in the Presidency of the Church. As Sidney Rigdon had preseeded the Twelve in his return from the East & claimed that it was his right, in deavering to get the People together for the purpose of rattifying his claims by their voice. But the Twelve having returned before this was accomplished Brigham Young Being the President of the Quorum appointed a special Conference of the whole Church, at which it was vissably made manifest to the most if not all present That he was chosen of God to stand in Josephs Stead in moving on the cause of Zion[.] For as he arose & began to speak to the People he was transfigured into Josephs likeness in looks appearance & the sound of his voice so that a low whisper ran through the vast Assembly—thats Joseph—thats Joseph while the eyes of the multitude became fastened upon him with wonder & astonishment. this prodused a firm conviction in the minds of the People beyond all doubt that he was the Man and thus he was incorporated by a unaminous voice of all present with Heber C Kimble & Willard Richards as his Councilloors[.] I being in attendence was also an eye witness to this marvelous manifestation.149
July 17, 1827–August 9, 1891, age 17
I have been with the Prophet Joseph and heard his instruction weekly and sometimes daily. The last time I heard him speak in public he spoke to the Legion. After telling over what he had passed thru and what he had suffered from men because he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He says: from my boyhood up to the present time I have been hunted like a roe upon the mountains. I have never been allowed to live like other men. I have been driven, chased, stoned, whipped, robbed, mobbed, imprisoned, persecuted, accused falsely of everything bad. I have suffered till the Lord knows I have suffered enough.
After the death of Joseph, Sidney Rigdon came and sought to place himself at the head of the church. By his flattery he deceived many. Just before he called a vote of the public congregation, Brigham Young the president of the Twelve, arrived from his mission. This was a joyful meeting. The faithful knew not that Joseph had ordained Brother Brigham and the Twelve to lead the church but they knew that the Twele were the next quorum in authority. They that served the Lord faithful were not deceived. I went to [the] meeting where the church met in the grove east of the Temple where President Brigham Young arose and spoke and behold he spoke with the voice of Joseph. The very moment I heard him speak (august 8th) I thought of Joseph and from that time on his voice sounded like Joseph’s and from that time the church generally were satisfied that the mantle of Joseph was on Brigham. Notwithstanding all this, Sidney Rigdon, James J. Strang, Lyman Wight, James Emmet and others led away many people from the church.150
June 24, 1789–January 1, 1872, age 55
At this time the mob expected we should rise and give them battle; we thought best not to do it. We just kept still and continued our work on the Temple, finished it and got our End[owments]. But at that time most of the 12 were absent on missions. Sidney Rigdon, who aspired for the Presidency came and called the church together and presented his claim for the Presidency. But the 12 soon came home and appeared on the stand at the day appointed for choosing. Sidney made his plea. Brigham Young began to speak and at that time I sat with my back towards the stand as did many others. And when Brigham spoke he spoke with the voice of Joseph and we turned around to see Brigham speaking in Joseph’s voice and behold Joseph’s mantle had fallen on him. The people understood it in the same way. Brigham stood at the head of the Twelve therefore the church turned to him.151
Richards, Jane Snyder
January 31, 1823–November 17, 1912, age 21
Upon the return of the Apostles and Elders a meeting was called and by a unanimous vote Brigham Young was chosen President as he stood on the stand he said he felt as though he would rather sit in sack cloth and ashes for a month than appear before the people. But then loneliness seemed to require somebody to step forward and he felt constrained to do so. And we knew he was [to be president] because he had the voice and manner of Joseph at the time as hundreds can testify.152
After his [Joseph’s] tragic death I attended the meeting at which President Brigham Young addressed the Saints, and saw his face illuminated and appear as the face of Joseph while the voice of Joseph seemed to address the people through the mouth of Brigham. I can never forget the divine thrill that passed through the audience on that occasion and the impression that the appearance and voice of Joseph produced upon his hearers.153
Richards, Maria Wealthy Wilcox
See Wilcox, Maria Wealthy
August 14, 1831–February 1 or 2, 1920, age 12
Well, the time came when the Twelve returned to Nauvoo. They called a meeting in the Bowery, and Sidney Rigdon with all the eloquence possible for a man to have, spoke for one hour and a half, but when he sat down, Brigham Young got up, and I testify to you in all fervor, before God, that the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon Brigham Young. It was Joseph’s voice; absolutely Joseph’s voice and manner, as Brigham Young addressed the people and told them who should be their leader. Now this is no fiction; this is true as I stand here after so many years, passing from the year 1844 up to the present time.154
They were children as it were; and when the man of God, as the people knew him, was taken away they did not know what would become of them. That was the condition we were in—sorrow and anguish for the loss of that man. I said the people were all children. But they knew the shepherd’s voice. Sidney Rigdon and the others said, “I am the man, I am the man” but it did not take. The sheep knew better. And when the Twelve returned from the east, I shall never forget in this world or in the world to come the scene as Brigham Young arose after Sidney Rigdon had used up an hour and a half delivering an eloquent discourse. When Brigham got up the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon him. It was Joseph’s voice; it was Joseph’s appearance, and I testify to you, if I never again do so on this earth, in the presence of God and angels, that this is verily the truth. This is true—that the mantle of Joseph did fall upon Brigham Young and the people knew it.155
Smith, Job Taylor
December 2, 1828–January 3, 1913, age 15
Sometime during this week in August Sidney Rigdon returned and called the people together to listen to his oratory and special claims. I heard all his discourses and they were lengthy and to the point that the father of the church was dead and needed a guardian and that he was the man to fill that position.
But on the 8th of August the apostles appeared on the stand, having very recently returned from the east. And to me it was a sensation. President Brigham Young arose to sepak and every eye was turned towards him, and as he spoke I fancied it was the prophet’s voice speaking through him, I scarcely remember much that he said in the way of reasoning, but the ring of his voice will never cease from my memory as he uttered aloud the words, “If you wish to know who is the president of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints it is I.” Historians have given his remarks in full, but I merely write from memory. I also remember his coupling with the motion to sustain the twelve apostles as the presiding authority of the church, the further carrying out of the measures of the prophet in finishing the building of the temple and giving the people their endowments. The votes for these measures were given heartily, for the sheep know the shepherd’s voice, and a stranger, or one weakened in time of trouble they would not follow.156
Smoot, Abraham Owen
February 17, 1815–March 5, 1895, age 29
I was present at the meeting held in Nauvoo on the occasion when President Young assumed leadership of the Church, and can testify with hundreds of others that he spoke by the power of God on that occasion and that he had the very voice and appearance of Joseph Smith.157
Smoot, Margaret Thompson McMeans Adkinson
April 16, 1809–September 1, 1884, age 35
I was present upon the occasion when the Twelve Apostles with Pres Brigham Young at their head, took the presidency of the church by the unanimous vote of all Israel there assembled and personally witnessed the supernatural power shown through Brigham Young. And was firmly convinced that he was the legitimate successor to the Martered Prophet. And was as ready and willing from that moment to obey his council, and receive his Revelations, as I was those of Joseph Smith.158
Staines, William C.
____ 26, 1818–August 3, 1881, age 26
After this [a speech from Sidney Rigdon lasting three hours] President Young stated he had listened to all that had been said by the speaker. . . . But as the subject had been broached and the people would be anxious to know something about those who would lead, he said in a loud voice: “I will tell you who your leaders or guardians will be—The Twelve! I at their head!” This was with a voice like the voice of the Prophet Joseph. I thought it was his, and so did the thousands who heard it.159
Stearns, Mary Ann
April 6, 1833–April 2, 1912, age 11
I was at the great meeting when the mantle of Brother Joseph rested upon Brigham Young until his whole being seemed changed and his voice was like that of the Prophet. The people around me, rising to their feet to get a better chance to hear and see, I and my little companion of the day, Julia Felshaw, being small of stature, stood upon the benches that we, too might behold the wonderful transformation, and I know that from that time on the power of that change remained with Brother Brigham Young as long as he lived on earth. The faithful and honest hearted were quick to discern the right and took up the armor of the Gospel anew, rallied round the faithful Brigham whose rightful leadership had been plainly shown to them.160
March 17, 1834–September 15, 1927, age 10
The Saints were soon called to the Temple and the great question as to who should be their Leader was settled. Then Brigham Young was chosen to fill the vancancy of our beloved Prophet. I saw Brother Young rise to take his place as President of our Church and testify that he appeared to me and others to be Joseph the Prophet himself in person and voice, and I exclaimed “Oh, the Prophet Joseph is Resurrected.” My sister Rachel said “No, that is Brother Brigham Young.”161
Tracy, Nancy Naomi Alexander
1814–1902, age 30
We bore faithful testimony to our relatives and in the spring, bid our friends [in the East] farewell to return again to our home in Nauvoo. We landed at the City of the Saints about the middle of April, on Sunday morning. But oh, how lonely it seemed, our Prophet and Patriarch was not among the Saints in person, but that day his spirit rested upon Brigham Young, and as the mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha, so the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham. It seemed that the voice and every gesture was like Joseph, and he was sustained as the prophet, seer and revelator by the voice of the people.162
As soon as we arrived, we went right home and prepared to go to meeting for that day was appointed for us to choose a first presidency to lead the Church. The saints convened in a grove. Sidney Rigdon and his followers were on hand to contest their right to be the leaders of the Saints. At one time he was one of Brother Josephs councilors, but he was not righteous, and Joseph shook him off saying that the had carried him long enough and he would carry him no longer. Therefore, it was out of the question to have such a man lead the people.
Brigham Young was the man chosen and sustained by unanimous vote to be the mouthpiece of God to the Saints. I can testify that the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham that day as that of Elijah did fall upon Elisha, for it seemed that his voice, his gestures, and all were Joseph. It seemed that we had him again with us. He was sustained by the voice of the people to be the prophet, seer, and revelator.163
Watkins, William Lampard
February 7, 1827–September 18, 1911, age 17
A meeting was appointed for August 8th  by which time Brigham Young and most of the other apostles had returned home. It was at this meeting Sidney Rigdon made a lengthy and tedious speech presenting his claims, telling the people what wonderful things he had planned for them.
It was a solemn time for he was a man who on account of his experience and talents had been sustained as Joseph’s counselor by the people, although contrary to the Prophet’s wish for some time past, but the darkness was soon dispelled, for Brigham Young explained before the people on that day, the order of the Priesthood. He was filled with the power of the Holy Ghost. He stood before the people as the Prophet Joseph Smith often had done and we heard the voice of the true shepherd, for he spoke with the voice of Joseph. His manner and appearance were like unto Joseph’s and it was manifested to all those present upon whom the responsibility rested to carry on the work of God and lead the Saints.
I sat in that assembly and did not realize for a time but that I was still listening to the Prophet Joseph, so great and marvelous was the manner in which the manifestation before the entire congregation was made, that when the proposition was placed before the people to decide whom they would sustain as the leader of the church, the twelve apostles with Brigham Young as their President were almost unanamously sustained. This circumstance, although the Saints were in deep trouble and filled with sorrow for the condition in which they were placed brought a great relief and gave joy to the Saints for they realized that God was still mindful of them.164
January 6, 1823–November 8, 1910, age 21
I, John Welch, being of mature years desire to leave to my friends and descendants the following statement:
. . . I was babtized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the year 1841; emigrated to Nauvoo, Ill., in 1843 and to Salt Lake City in the year 1852. I was well acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and heard him speak both in public and private many times. I was present at the meeting in the grove at Nauvoo August 8th, 1844, when Sidney Rigdon made the claim. . . . I saw Brigham Young, then President of the Twelve Apostles, stand up to speak to the people and he spoke with the voice of Joseph Smith; and I further declare and testify that he, Brigham Young, had the appearance of the Prophet Joseph Smith while he, Young, was talking; that I was convinced then, and have never doubted in all the intervening years from that time up to the present, that Brigham Young was the right man and the man chosen of God to lead the Church.
Signed, John Welch
A. L. Farrell,
County Clerke, Cache Co, Utah165
Westover, Eliza Ann
See Haven, Eliza Ann Westover
Whitney, Helen Mar Kimball
August 25, 1828–November 15, 1896, age 15
I can bear witness, with hundreds of others who stood that day under the sound of Brigham’s voice, of the wonderful and startling effect that it had upon us. If Joseph had risen from the dead and stood before them, it could hardly have made a deeper or more lasting impression. It was the very voice of Joseph himself. This was repeatedly spoken of by the Latter-day Saints. And surely it was a most powerful and convincing testimony to them that he was the man, instead of Sidney Rigdon, that was destined to become the “great leader,” and upon whose shoulders the mantle of Joseph had fallen.166
Wilcox, Maria Wealthy
June 17, 1827–January 13 1909, age 17
I well remember the Sunday morning when the sorrowing saints were gathered together, in the little grove where they were accustomed to meet. Sidney Rigdon presented his claim as successor to the Prophet Joseph, making quite an impression upon the people; but Brigham Young, President of the Apostles, had just returned to Nauvoo, from his mission, in time to attend the afternoon meeting, and in a voice not unlike the Prophet’s, he told the people that although the Prophet Joseph was dead, Joseph had left behind the Keys of the Kingdom, and had conferred the same power, and authority that he himself possessed upon the Twelve Apostles, and that the Church would not be left without a leader and a guide. Truly the mantle of Joseph had fallen upon Brigham, and he spoke with power, even to the convincing of the saints, assuring them that they had nothing to fear, as all would yet be well, if they would harken to the Word of God, and to the counsel of his servants, and keep his commandments.167
Winters, Mary Ann Stearns
See Stearns, Mary Ann
March 1, 1807–September 2, 1898, age 37
In an address published in February 1845, Wilford Woodruff shared the mantle news with “[Church] officers and members” in England by assuring them that
On the second day after our arrival August 8th, 1844, we met in a special conference, all the quorums, authorities, and members of the Church that could assemble in Nauvoo. They were addressed by elder Brigham Young, the president of the quorum of the twelve. It was evident to the Saints that the mantle of Joseph had fallen upon him, the road that he pointed out could be seen so plainly, that none need err therein; the spirit of wisdom and counsel attended all his teachings, he struck upon a chord, with which all hearts beat in unison.168
I know this work is of God. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I have heard two or three of the brethren testify about Brother Young in Nauvoo. Every man and every woman in that assembly, which perhaps might number thousands, could bear the same testimony. I was there, the Twelve were there, and a good many others, and all can bear the same testimony. The question might be asked why was the appearance of Joseph Smith given to Brigham Young? Because here was Sidney Rigdon and other men rising up and claiming to be the leaders of the Church; and men stood, as it were, on a pivot, not knowing which way to turn. But just as quick as Brigham Young rose in that assembly, his face was that of Joseph Smith—the mantle of Joseph had fallen upon him, the power of God that was upon Joseph Smith was upon him; he had the voice of Joseph, and it was the voice of the shepherd. There was not a person in that assembly, Rigdon, himself, not excepted, but was satisfied in his own mind that Brigham was the proper leader of the people, for he [Rigdon] would not have his name presented, by his own consent, after that sermon was delivered. There was a reason for this in the mind of God: it convinced the people. They saw and heard for themselves, and it was by the power of God.169
I do not know if there is any one present here tonight but myself who was there at that conference. There are but few living who were present on that occasion . . . and when Brigham arose and commenced speaking, as has been said, if my eyes had not been so I could see, if I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is no one that could have convinced me that it was not Joseph Smith.170
Appendix II: Secondhand Testimonies
This appendix contains secondhand accounts of the mantle experience. These accounts concern people who reported a personal mantle experience but did not record their own story. Their oral testimonies were recorded later by others, usually family members. Other accounts in this appendix come from firsthand diaries that are unavailable to the author of this paper; in these cases, secondary sources have been cited. As in appendix I, the accounts are listed by the person’s name, birth and death dates, age in August 1844, testimonies, sources, and appropriate notes.
May 29, 1825–February 15, 1905, age 19
“I well remember that June day of 1844, when the announcement reached Nauvoo that the Prophet and Patriarch had been killed by a cruel mob. The news fell like a thunderbolt upon the Saints. Their grief was indescribable. Many thought he, like the Savior, would rise again to become their leader. . . . The memory of the occasion can never be erased. This sad occurrence marks the culmination of the devil inspired persecutions of two of God’s greatest and truest noblemen.”
Sally told of being at the meeting on August 8, 1844, when Brigham Young spoke in the voice of the martyred Prophet. He assumed the form and appearance of Joseph, so that the thousands at the meeting believed for the moment that President Smith actually stood before them.171
Angell, Truman Osborn
June 5, 1810–October 16, 1887, age 34
Not only did Truman Angell neglect to record much about his personal and professional life during this period, but he also wrote little of the larger historical events occurring around him. He mentions only that he “suffered much—in common with the rest of my Brethern—during the persecutions in which the Prophet and Patriarch lost their lives.” Angell’s loyalty lay with the Apostles in the aftermath of this tragedy. “Although the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith had lost their lives by mob violence,” he writes, “the Twelve Apostles came forward, with Brigham Young at their head, and the mantle of Joseph was upon them in all that was done.”172
Barlow, Elizabeth Haven
December 28, 1811–December 25, 1892, age 32
“When Brigham Young, the President of the Twelve, began speaking I saw a change come over him—saw him take on the form of Joseph Smith and heard his voice change to that of the Prophet’s. Thousands in that assembly testified to the same thing. From that moment forward I knew whom the Lord had chosen. So did all the true Latter Day Saints. The crowd felt that the Lord had not forsaken them.”173
Benson, Eliza Ann Perry
See Perry, Eliza Ann
Benson, Ezra Taft
February 22, 1811–September 3, 1869, age 33
“When Brother Brigham Young rose before the people and spoke . . . it was very easy to see who possessed the mantle of Joseph. Truly, as Jesus said, ‘My sheep know my voice, but a stranger they will not follow.’ For many said, when they heard Brigham talk, that it was not Brigham’s voice, but the voice of Joseph.”174
December 16, 1825–August 16, 1916, age 18
They [Eliza and her husband John Welch] were both well acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, in life and were permitted to view their remains after the martyrdom. John Welch was one of the guards over the bodies as they lay in state. They were both present at the meeting held August 8, 1844, where the mantle of the Prophet fell on Brigham Young, and they knew Brigham Young had been called by Divine Authority and power, and these facts they related many, many times to their children and grandchildren, greatly strengthening and adding to the testimonies of those who listened.175
January 28, 1832–July 25, 1921, age 12
After the prophet’s death, I was at the meeting where Sydney Rigdon, standing in a wagon box to make his speech, presented his claim to be guardian of the Church. When Brigham Young presented his claim, the mantle of the prophet rested on him and we knew he was to be the new leader.176
Carbine, William Van Orden
February 17, 1835–May 11, 1921, age 9
I was nine years old when the Prophet was martyred. I remember the excitement at that time. The people hardly knew what to do. The Prophet was gone and Sidney Rigdon wanted a guardian put in for the Church. Brother Thomas Grover, one of the High Council, spoke and told the people not to be in a hurry: the Twelve would be home soon and they would tell the people what to do. When Brigham Young came home he held a meeting at which time, the mantle of Joseph fell on him. It was a manifestation to let the people know who was to lead the Church. His looks and ways were like the Prophet. I, as a boy, was quite well accquainted with the Prophet. I was sitting with my mother in the meeting and I thought it was the Prophet and told my mother so. There are a good many who have heard my mother tell this.177
Though I was only a boy, I remember it quite distinctly. I told my mother [Adelia] that the Prophet was not dead, for I had seen him on the stand.178
January 8, 1813–September 19, 1889, age 31
In his conference address delivered in the Bowery in Salt Lake City on July 19, 1857, Brigham Young referred to Albert Carrington’s mantle experience which is reported to have taken place during the October conference of 1844:
Do people imagine that they can kill “Mormonism?” I may die for my religion, and who cares for that? Brother Carrington has told you that God can carry on his own work, and the spirit of Joseph which fell upon me [Brigham] is ready to fall upon somebody else when I am removed. . . .
. . . Brother Carrington’s testimony proves to you that men’s eyes are liable to be deceived. It may appear strange to some that he [Carrington] could not tell me from Joseph Smith, when I was speaking in the stand in Nauvoo during the October Conference of 1844. Somebody came along and passed a finger over his eyes and he could not see any one but Joseph speaking, until I got through addressing the congregation.179
Cheney, Talitha Garlik Avery
September 22, 1824–April 17, 1902, age 19
I was in Nauvoo when Sidney Rigdon came from the east after Brother Joseph and Hyrum were killed to take lead of the church. There were none of the Twelve Apostles at home but Brother Taylor and Brother Richards. Brother Taylor had been badly wounded so Sidney Rigdon thought he would have things his own way, but he was mistaken; he called a meeting and said the church was old enough to choose a guardian for itself, it had been fourteen years since it was organized. But Brother Brigham and the rest of the Apostles got there in time to be at the meeting. After Rigdon sat down Brother Brigham got up and said, “All who want Brother Rigdon to lead them can have him, but I tell you the Keys of the Kingdom are in the hands of the Twelve Apostles. They are the ones to lead this people.”
As soon as Brother Brigham got up to speak, I said to myself, “That is the man to take the lead of this people.” He looked just like Brother Joseph and spoke like him, I said “Surely the mantle of the Prophet Joseph has fallen on Brother Brigham.” I never had a doubt, I knew Brother Brigham was the man to fill the place of our beloved Prophet. I knew Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God and was the mouthpiece of God to the people and that Brother Brigham was his lawful successor and a man of God.180
Clawson, Ellen Spencer
November 21, 1832–August 24, 1896, age 11
Aurelia Spencer Rogers writes the following concerning her sister Ellen:
My sister Ellen’s testimony has also strengthened my faith in the truth of Mormonism, and it seems to me appropriate to give it here, as it may prove a help to others. She was at a meeting of the Saints, held in a grove west of the Temple in Nauvoo, soon after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The question under consideration, who should take the Prophet’s place in presiding over the Church. Sidney Rigdon, who had been one of Joseph’s Counselors, claimed the right to the position; yet the spirit he manifested was not in accord with the spirit of the Gospel. At this meeting, Brigham Young, who was President of the Quorum of Apostles, arose to speak, when “The Mantle of Joseph” fell upon him, and he was like one transformed; his countenance, voice and form were like those of the late Prophet. Many in the congregation, even children saw this miracle; it satisfied the people and decided the question who was to be the leader. Sister Ellen occasionally referred to this circumstance, and said whenever she was tired, or felt to doubt any of the principles of the Gospel, this testimony came up before her.181
Clements, Ada Winchell
December 24, 1801–March 4, 1890, age 42
When Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred, Albert [Ada’s husband] was away from home, working for the Church interests and also the support of his family. When he heard of the terrible news he immediately started for home. On the way his horse took sick and he stopped at a store to obtain medicine. Here he met his friend Sidney Rigdon. Sidney told Albert he was hurrying back to Nauvoo to be with the Saints during this time of sorrow, and to take his place as their leader. Albert was happy to learn of Mr. Rigdon’s decision. On August 15, 1844, Albert arrived home, and Ada immediately told him all that had happened, including the meeting she had attended wherein the Saints had chosen Brigham Young as their leader.182
Ada related the events of this meeting. She told Albert how Elder Young had actually sounded and looked like Joseph Smith. Albert was surprised! He inquired about Sidney Rigdon. Ada said he had spoken, but the spirit was not with him. Albert took the side of his friend Sidney Rigdon. This was a sad day for the Clements family. Albert asked Ada if she were going to leave him and go west with Brigham Young? She said she would continue with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. However, she said she would always love him and pray for Albert to see the truth.183
Corless, Catherine Stephenson
December 13, 1807–September 27, 1902, age 36
John Coreless [a son of Catherine and Edward] “was with his parents at the meeting and John said he heard his mother and others say when Brigham Young arose and began to speak, ‘O! It’s Joseph himself.’”184
March 14, 1804–January 18, 1873, age 40
After the opening of this meeting President Brigham Young, President of the Twelve Apostles, spoke on the duties of the Twelve Apostles, and while he was speaking the Mantile of Joseph fell on President Young and he looked like Joseph and he spoke in Joseph’s voice, and many thought it was Joseph himself.185
Decker, Sarah Louisa Norris
about 1824–1914, age 20
Not satisfied yet those opposed to us began a series of persecutions; also a great apostacy took place and jealousy arose as to who should lead the Church. Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight and Strang had their followers but when a meeting was called and Brigham Young arose and spoke with power, it was as if the Prophet Joseph’s very voice spoke through him. I heard my father and mother when they returned from meeting testify to this, and many others since then. I believe it was the largest attended meeting ever held in Nauvoo.186
De Mille, Oliver
March 30, 1830–July 8, 1908, age 14
“After talking about a minute, his voice changed to the voice of Joseph, his countenance and every appearance and motion was that of Joseph, and his language was so convincing and prophetic that it seemed to bring conviction to the hears of all who were present. I was in the meeting and see with my own eyes and heard with my own ears all that was said and done and know for asurety whereof I speak and I lie not.”187
Ensign, Luvera Ellen
See Preece, Luvera Ellen Ensign
Fisher, Evaline McLean
December 25, 1805–July 19, 1893, age 38
They [Evaline and her husband, Joseph] were in Nauvoo at the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum and supposedly was at the meeting when the mantle of the Prophet fell upon Brigham Young.188
November 25, 1801–March 21, 1867, age 43
See Fisher, Evaline McLean
Harris, Emmeline Blanche Woodward
February 29 1828–April 25, 1921, age 16
“The people were gathered in the grove where there was a rude stand to speak from and very rude benches for the choir and others. The crowd extended through the grove and even outside the trees, many people standing in their wagon boxes, drawn up against the trees, to listen to what was going on. . . . But when Brigham Young rose in the midst of the people, most of them rose to their feet. . . . Well, we all stood on our feet, and as President Young spoke, everyone that had known the Prophet Joseph declared in a loud voice, as loud as they could, almost, that it was the Prophet Joseph himself risen again . . . that it was his voice, his manner, his clothing, himself, that stood there in the midst of the people. Of course this talking after a while subsided, and by and by most of them doubtless realized that it was Brigham Young. But it was a transfiguration real and convincing.”189
I was standing in a wagon box on wheels, so I did not have to rise, but those who were seated arose and made the exclamation. I could see very well, and every one of them thought it was really the Prophet Joseph risen from the dead. But after Brigham Young had spoken a few words, the tumult subsided, and the people really knew that it was not the Prophet Joseph, but the President of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was the most wonderful manifestation, I think, that I have known or seen, and I have seen a very great number.190
Hubbard, Charles Wesley
February 7, 1810–December 19, 1903, age 34
On the morning of 4 August 1844 [sic] when Rigdon was given the opportunity of laying his claim before the whole church, Brigham Young addressed the gathering in the afternoon. . . . Charles Hubbard later recorded that before his death in Willard, Utah, he walked two blocks to fast meeting and bore his testimony in a language and spirit that held the audience in silence and attention. One of the men present said: “There was not a sound in the room other that his [Charles’s] voice; many were in tears, the spirit was so strong as he declared he knew that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that Brigham Young was the rightful successor, for he was at the meeting when the mantle fell on Brigham Young. Brigham Young looked like the Prophet [Joseph] and no one who was present could ever doubt that Brigham Young was called of God.”191
June 22, 1793–October 16, 1883, age 51
“I went to the meeting that had been called and listened thoughtfully to what was said and done. The longer I listened the more mystified I became. I bowed my head in my hands and prayed for God to give me understanding. While I was in this attitude, Brother Brigham rose to speak, I suppose. I heard a voice—the Prophet’s [Joseph’s] voice as natural and true as I ever heard it. I raised up quickly, fully expecting to see the Prophet [Joseph], and I did. There he stood and gradually changed to that of Brother Brigham, but the voice was not Brother Brigham’s. It was still the Prophet’s [Joseph]. Then beside Brother Brigham I saw the Prophet [Joseph], who turned toward the speaker and smiled. My heart beat rapidly with joy and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Brother Brigham was called of God to lead the Church.”
Others of the assembled Saints received the same remarkable manifestation; and when a vote was called for, the Council of the Twelve was unanimously sustained as the ruling body of the Church.192
Johnson, Joseph Ellis
April 28, 1817–December 17, 1882, age 27
During the dismal days following the murders of Joseph and Hyrum, JEJ [Joseph Ellis Johnson] and others of the family lived through the grief, fears, uncertainties and confusion into which all had been plunged. They were present when Sidney Rigdon voiced his plea to be named Guardian of the Church, which fell on unresponsive ears. They also saw Brigham Young rise to begin his speech and they declared that they witnessed a miracle. As he began to speak his voice suddenly became that of the slain prophet, and they and the audience were electrified by the change in his appearance which became that of Joseph Smith. So lifelike was he that BFJ [Benjamin F. Johnson] said he jumped to his feet in amazement and awe. They with the others of the congregation, convinced that the mantle of the prophet had fallen upon Brigham, voted to sustain him as leader of the Church. Later the rejected Sidney Rigdon, who was really a brilliant man in many ways, apostatized and formed a small church organization in Pittsburg, Pa.193
Kelley, Sophronia Eldridge Corbitt Stowell
July 22, 1825–January 24, 1907, age 19
Mother [Sophronia] was present when the cornerstone of the Nauvoo Temple was laid. She had seen the Prophet Joseph Smith and heard him talk many times. She was present when Brigham Young, as President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, assumed leadership of the Church. She has testified many times that he was transfigured and appeared both in voice and general appearance to be the Prophet Joseph himself.194
Knight, Martha McBride
March 17, 1805–November 1, 1901, age 39
She [Martha] often told her grandchildren of the cruel martyrdom of the prophet, the sorrowing of the Saints and the solemn services; her witnesssing the form of Brigham Young change to the person of Joseph Smith, and Brigham’s voice ringing out in the tone of Joseph’s voice, declaring him the leader of the wondering Saints.195
October 14, 1832–February 11, 1910, age 12
Another incident I have heard him [Samuel Knight] narrate was when the succession to the presidency of the Church, after the martyrdom, was being discussed, and he was in attendance at the meeting. As a small boy, perhaps playing with his marbles or otherwise passing the time, he was surprised to hear what he thought was the voice of Joseph Smith. He [Samuel] arose in astonishment and beheld the transfiguration of Brigham Young as related in Church History.196
October 17, 1788–October 7, 1874, age 55
See Lake, Philomela Smith
Lake, Philomela Smith
April 13, 1794–March 20, 1873, age 50
After the awful scene at Nauvoo, when they saw the forms of the Prophets they had loved so well laid in the grave, they sought a testimony from God as to their future procedure, and this testimony they received at the great meeting held in the grove at Nauvoo, August 8, 1844, where they witnessed the sublime personality of Joseph Smith as it cast its mantle of splendor around the chosen form of Brigham Young, he being transformed before the eyes of the people, as a heavenly witness to them that God had caused the Majesty of His High Priesthood to fall upon “whom he would,” that His work might continue. Father and Mother Lake received that testimony and took up their march again with the Saints.197
August 31, 1830–October 15, 1908, age 13
It was not until Brigham Young and a number of the Twelve had returned that a public meeting was held to determine the successor to Joseph Smith.
All the Leavitt family were present on that occasion, August 8, 1844, for, to them, this was a matter of great importance. Fourteen-year-old Dudley was with his friends near the back of the large audience which had gathered to hear the talks of the authorities. . . . Brigham Young arose to speak. . . .
On the edge of the crowd, Dudley whispered to some of his companions. Suddenly they all stopped and listened. It was their Prophet Joseph speaking! How well they knew his accents. They raised up and looked toward the stand. For a second, they thought it was the Prophet who stood there. But they knew it was not, and soon the vision passed. It was so real to Dudley that it made a lasting impression. For him, the mantle of Joseph had in reality fallen upon Brigham. As long as he lived he loved to re-tell the incident.198
May 30, 1796–August 20, 1846, age 48
Sarah Studevant Leavitt (September 5, 1799–April 5, 1878, age 45), Jeremiah’s wife, wrote:
When the news came the whole city of Nauvoo was thunderstruck. Oh such mourning and lamentation. . . . There were many, myself among them, that would gladly give our lives in place of his, if his life could have been spared in so doing. I never had spoken to Joseph Smith in my life. My husband, Jeremiah, had, but I had heard him preach and I had seen him and knew that he was a Prophet of God. He had been sent here to set up his Kingdom upon the Earth. I knew that the God of Heaven was back of this latter day Kingdom, and I knew that it never could be thrown down by mortal man.
As I looked around me in despair, I wondered how that great work was to be accomplished. The answer was not long in coming. My husband, Jeremiah, was attending a meeting where this question was being discussed. Brigham Young was speaking when suddenly he seemed to be clothed with all the authority of Joseph Smith. Jeremiah said that he had the same appearance, the same voice, as the Prophet. If he had not known that Joseph Smith was dead, he would have thought that Brigham Young was Joseph Smith. Tears dampened many cheeks. Joy and gladness filled many hearts. The Lord had not forgotten his people. Brigham Young was absent in the east when Joseph and Hyrum Smith had been killed. Sidney Rigdon tried hard to take Joseph Smith’s place and assume the Presidency of the Church, but his lies and deceit were proven by the Twelve Apostles, that returned about this time. And also by the incident I have just related. After that there was no one to doubt that Brigham Young was to be our new leader and Prophet. If Brigham had any doubts, my husband Jeremiah did not. From that moment on he was our Prophet and our leader.199
LeBaron, Esther Meleta Johnson
January 12, 1828–March 15, 1874, age 16
Esther Meleta was at the meeting in August 1844, when Brigham Young was transfigured before the audience. She said Sidney Rigdon had spoke long and tried to convince the people that he was the rightful leader of the Church. When Brigham Young arose and began to speak, he was changed so that he looked like the Prophet Joseph Smith and his voice and manner of speech was the same so when the Saints saw this change there was no doubt as to who should lead the Church, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with Brigham Young as the Prophet.200
Lee, John Doyle
September 6, 1812–March 23, 1877, age 31
Time passed on until the whole twelve got in from their missions, and a conference was held, and the several claimants come forward with their claims. Sidney Rigdon was the first who appeared upon the stand. He had been considered rather in the back-ground for sometime previous to the death of the Prophet. He made but a weak claim. Strong (Strang) did not file any. Just them [sic] Brigham Young arose and roared like a young lion, imitating the style and voice of Joseph, the Prophet. Many of the brethren declared that they saw the mantle of Joseph fall upoon him. I myself, at the time, imagined that I saw and heard a strong resemblance to the Prophet in him, and felt that he was the man to lead us until Joseph’s legal successor should grow up to manhood, when he should surrender the Presidency to the man who held the birthright.201
Lyman, Amasa Mason
March 30, 1813–February 4, 1877, age 31
He [Amasa Lyman] was not blinded with foolish ambition. He had recognized the true ring of authority in the voice of Brigham Young. . . .
“I do not rise to electioneer,” he declared, wanting the Saints to know at once that he was making no claims to leadership. . . . “I have been at the back of Joseph Smith and I will be at the back of the Twelve forever, and then I will be saved.”
. . . Being awake with “his lamp trimmed and burning” at the momentous occasion, he was able with thousands of Latter-day Saints to see the splendid and undisputed manifestation of the power of God in presenting Brigham Young before the Saints as the martyred Prophet, for Brigham spoke with the Prophet’s voice and appeared so nearly like the martyred leader that many of the people thought it was really Joseph Smith, and in this way they were shown clearly that the Prophet’s mantle had fallen on Brigham Young.202
December 24, 1824–May 1, 1915, age 19
After the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the presidency of the Church developed upon the quorum of the Apostles, and President Brigham Young stood at their head as captain and file leader, to carry out the plans that had been designated by the Prophet Joseph. There were many hundreds, perhaps thousands, present at the meeting held in the grove near the Temple at Nauvoo, in August, 1844, when President Young was recognized by miraculous manifestation as the leader of the Church, and they have testified it was evident that the mantle of Joseph the Prophet fell upon him. . . . I had a letter recently from Brothers Horace and John R. Murdoch of Beaver, who testify that they were eyewitness to the wonderful transformation and power manifested through President Brigham Young on that occasion [when the mantle of Joseph the Prophet fell upon him].203
Murdock, John Riggs
September 13, 1826–November 12, 1913, age 17
“It was the greatest manifestation I ever beheld, for the voice, the gesture, the whole appearance of President Young was just exactly as if the Prophet Joseph stood there in person.”204
I had a letter recently from Brothers Horace and John R. Murdoch of Beaver, who testify that they were eyewitness to the wonderful transformation and power manifested through President Brigham Young on that occasion [when the mantle of Joseph the Prophet fell upon him].205
Owens, James Clark
July 7, 1832–February 1, 1901, age 12
With his parents he passed through the trials and drivings of the Saints, first in Missouri and afterwards in Illinois. . . . He attended the conference at Nauvoo, August 8, 1844, and remembered how Brigham Young was transformed in the eyes of the people.206
August 6, 1820–October 6, 1905, age 24
Brigham Young, the President of the Twelve Apostles, came to the front and stated in a public meeting that the Twelve in their organized capacity had the authority and the legal right to preside over the Church in all the world. As he was speaking in a public meeting, the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham and it was as if the Prophet were speaking. It was truly the voice of the Prophet, and it seemed to be the Prophet in person! It was a convincing and a remarkable demonstration of the power of God unto His people. In the minds of the faithful there was now no further question about who our rightful leader was, and this was acknowledged by the main body of the people. Those who did not accept this order of things went their own way.207
Perry, Eliza Ann
March 20, 1828–May 13, 1913, age 16
After Eliza Ann Perry arrived in Nauvoo, she met the Prophet, Joseph Smith, and became well acquainted with him. Eliza Ann was a member of the Nauvoo Choir. She also contributed to the purchase of glass for the windows of the Nauvoo Temple. She was present at the meeting called by Sidney Rigdon to choose a guardian for the church. In her diary she said, and I quote, “Suddenly, Joseph came on the stand to all appearance. But, the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young, his voice, the color of his hair, his general appearance. People raised from their seats enmass and exclaimed, ‘Joseph has come! He is here!’ Then they knew that Brigham was the man to lead these people.”208
Preece, Luvera Ellen Ensign
June 24, 1826–June 14, 1898, age 18
[On] August 8, 1844, she [Luvera] was at the meeting called to appoint the new leader of the church and witnessed the mantle of Joseph Smith cover Brigham Young as he talked to the assembled Saints.209
Smith, John Sivel
March 10, 1809–February 12, 1905, age 35
John was present when the Prophet Joseph Smith delivered his last address to the Nauvoo Legion, and he also attended the memorably [sic] meeting held at Navoo August 8, 1844, when the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young. He often testified that Brigham Young was the Lord’s chosen prophet.210
Smith, Jane Wadley
January 2, 1814–?, age 30
Mother and father were present at the meeting when the mantle of Joseph Smith fell on Brigham Young. She said Brigham Young was not present at the meeting when it started, but he had been called back from a mission because of the martydom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Hyrum. Brigham Young came up from the boat and took his place on the stand. Mother had leaned over her baby and just then Brigham Young started to speak. She said she raised up suddenly because she heard what she believed was the Prophet’s [Joseph’s] voice, although she knew he was dead. This thoroughly convinced them that he was the successor to Joseph Smith, chosen of God.211
Snow, James Chauncey
January 11, 1817–April 30, 1884, age 27
Bro. Snow, together with other missionaries, was called home shortly after the martyrdom, and he was present at the meeting when the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young—an event of which he often testified afterwards.212
Snow, Sally Adams
See Adams, Sally
March 26, 1819–May 19, 1892, age 25
From the age of six, he [Bishop W. E. Stoker] was raised by his grandfather [William Stoker], who knew the Prophet Joseph Smith personally and was present when the Mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young, and received a personal testimony. Bishop Stoker felt he owed much to his grandfather for building up his faith through the relating of this Church experience.213
Taylor, Pleasant Green
February 8, 1827–May 16, 1917, age 17
After the death of Joseph the question arose as to who should lead the church. The twelve apostles being away on missions. Sidney Rigdon claimed the right to lead the church though his claim was not looked on with favor by the majority of the Saints. He was present and saw Brigham Young come into the bowery where the Saints had assembled. He, as well as hundreds of others, arose to his feet and felt sure that Joseph had been resurrected. And even after Brigham began to speak he still thought it was the Prophet Joseph who was speaking to them.214
Van Orden, Peter Edmund
January 27, 1830–September 25, 1911, age 14
Peter remembers that after the Prophet’s funeral, Sidney Rigdon, came and claimed the right to rule the Church. He held a meeting and talked to the people about it, asking them to return later to make a decision. It was at this later meeting that Brigham Young spoke and the Mantle of the Prophet fell over his shoulders. The people knew this was their sign that Brigham was to be their leader. Peter witnessed this event and bore testimony of in until his dying day.215
March 13, 1820–January 24, 1904, age 24
At the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young who was President of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, assumed the leadership of the Church. Sidney Rigdon, one of the counselors to Joseph in the Presidency, felt it was his right to take the place. Henson was present at the public meeting held in the bowery at which both Sidney and Brigham spoke. Sidney Rigdon made his claims first. Henson said that Brother Rigdon was an eloquent speaker and made a forceful appeal to the people. When he finished Brigham Young arose to speak. In the words of Henson, “The mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon Brigham Young and the congregation knew who their leader was. He looked like the Prophet Joseph and the tone of his voice was like his.”216
Henson was present at the time that Sidney Rigdon set forth his claims to the presidency. He also witnessed the mantle of Joseph resting upon Brigham Young and was fully convinced that he was the future Prophet of God.217
Welch, Eliza Billington
See Billington, Eliza
Wells, Emmeline Blanche Woodward Harris Whitney
See Harris, Emmeline Blanche Woodward
Woodland, William West
January 2, 1832–February 19, 1906, age 12
[William] accompanied his parents through all the drivings that took place in the early days of the Church and was exposed to the many spiritual manifestations that happened . . . even as a youth witness to the grand experience of the mantle of the Prophet Joseph falling upon Brigham Young after the death of the Prophet Joseph. This did more to influence him in future years than most any other experience.218
Woolley, Samuel Amos
September 11, 1825–March 23, 1900, age 18
“During the troublesome times of 1844 I served as a city guard in Nauvoo. After the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith I was present at the important meeting where President Brigham Young first spoke to the Saints of Joseph’s death, and I received a testimony that the mantle of Joseph had fallen upon Brigham Young’s shoulder, for when he spoke it seemed as if Joseph himself were speaking, his voice and gestures being exactly like those of the martyred Prophet.”219