Volume 3 Chapter 22 | BYU Studies

Volume 3 Chapter 22

 

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Chapter 22

The Prophet's Account Of His Experiences In Missouri—Fulfillment Of A Prophetic Revelation—Complete Exodus Of The Saints From Missouri.

The Prophet and Companions Continue their Flight.

Monday, April 22.—We continued on our journey, both by night and by day; and after suffering much fatigue and hunger, I arrived in Quincy, Illinois, amidst the congratulations of my friends, and the embraces of my family, whom I found as well as could be expected, considering what they had been called to endure. Before leaving Missouri I had paid the lawyers at Richmond thirty-four thousand dollars in cash, lands, etc.; one lot which I let them have, in Jackson county, for seven thousand dollars, they were soon offered ten thousand dollars for it, but would not accept it. For other vexatious suits which I had to contend against the few months I was in this state, I paid lawyers' fees to the amount of about sixteen thousand dollars, making in all about fifty thousand dollars, for which I received very little in return; for sometimes they were afraid to act on account of the mob, and sometimes they were so drunk as to incapacitate them for business. But there were a few honorable exceptions.

The Leading Characters in the Persecutions of the Saints.

Among those who have been the chief instruments and leading characters in the cruel persecutions against the Church of Latter-day Saints, the following stand conspicuous, viz.: Generals Clark, Wilson and Lucas, Colonel Price, and Cornelius Gillium; Captain Bogart also, whose zeal in the cause of oppression and injustice was unequalled, and whose delight has been to rob, murder, and spread devastation among the Saints. He stole a valuable horse, saddle, and bridle from me, which cost two hundred dollars, and then sold the same to General Wilson. On understanding this, I applied to General Wilson for the horse, who assured me, upon the honor of a gentleman and an officer, that I should have the horse returned to me; but this promise has not been fulfilled.

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Part of Governor Boggs in the Persecutions.

All the threats, murders, and robberies, which these officers have been guilty of, are entirely overlooked by the executive of the state; who, to hide his own iniquity, must of course shield and protect those whom he employed to carry into effect his murderous purposes.

Treatment of the Prophet by the Mob.

I was in their hands, as a prisoner, about six months; but notwithstanding their determination to destroy me, with the rest of my brethren who were with me, and although at three different times (as I was informed) we were sentenced to be shot, without the least shadow of law (as we were not military men), and had the time and place appointed for that purpose, yet through the mercy of God, in answer to the prayers of the Saints, I have been preserved and delivered out of their hands, and can again enjoy the society of my friends and brethren, whom I love, and to whom I feel united in bonds that are stronger than death; and in a state where I believe the laws are respected, and whose citizens are humane and charitable.

Calm Assurance of the Prophet Respecting his own Safety.

During the time I was in the hands of my enemies, 50 must say, that although I felt great anxiety respecting my family and friends, who were so inhumanly treated and abused, and who had to mourn the loss of their husbands and children who had been slain, and, after having been robbed of nearly all that they possessed, were driven from their homes, and forced to wander as strangers in a strange country, in order that they might save themselves and their little ones from the destruction they were threatened with in Missouri, yet as far as I was concerned, I felt perfectly calm, and resigned to the will of my Heavenly Father. I knew my innocence as well as that of the Saints, and that we had done nothing to deserve such treatment from the hands of our oppressors. Consequently, I could look to that God who has the lives of all men in His hands, and who had saved me frequently from the gates of death, for deliverance; and notwithstanding that every avenue of escape seemed to be entirely closed, and death stared me in the face, and that my destruction was determined upon, as far as man was concerned, yet, from my first entrance into the camp, I felt an assurance that I, with my brethren and our families, should be delivered. Yes, that still small voice, which has so often whispered consolation to my soul, in the depths of sorrow and distress, bade me be of good cheer, and promised deliverance, which gave me great comfort. 1 And although the heathen raged, and the people imagined vain things, yet the Lord of Hosts, the God of Jacob was my refuge; and when I cried unto Him in the day of trouble, He delivered me; for which I call upon my soul, and all that is within me, to bless and praise His holy name. For although I was "troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."

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Deportment of the Saints.

The conduct of the Saints, under their accumulated wrongs and sufferings, has been praiseworthy; their courage in defending their brethren from the ravages of the mobs; their attachment to the cause of truth, under circumstances the most trying and distressing which humanity can possibly endure; their love to each other; their readiness to afford assistance to me and my brethren who were confined in a dungeon; their sacrifices in leaving Missouri, and assisting the poor widows and orphans, and securing them houses in a more hospitable land; all conspire to raise them in the estimation of all good and virtuous men, and has secured them the favor and approbation of Jehovah, and a name as imperishable as eternity. And their virtuous deeds and heroic actions, while in defense of truth and their brethren, will be fresh and blooming when the names of their oppressors shall be either entirely forgotten, or only remembered for their barbarity and cruelty.

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Their attention and affection to me, while in prison, will ever be remembered by me; and when I have seen them thrust away and abused by the jailer and guard, when they came to do any kind offices, and to cheer our minds while we were in the gloomy prison-house, gave me feelings which I cannot describe; while those who wished to insult and abuse us by their threats and blasphemous language, were applauded, and had every encouragement given them.

Sure Reward of the Faithful Saints.

However, thank God, we have been delivered. And although some of our beloved brethren have had to seal their testimony with their blood, and have died martyrs to the cause of truth—

Short though bitter was their pain,
Everlasting is their joy.

Let us not sorrow as "those without hope;" the time is fast approaching when we shall see them again and rejoice together, without being afraid of wicked men. Yes, those who have slept in Christ, shall He bring with Him, when He shall come to be glorified in His Saints, and admired by all those who believe, but to take vengeance upon His enemies and all those who obey not the Gospel.

At that time the hearts of the widows and fatherless shall be comforted, and every tear shall be wiped from their faces. The trials they have had to pass through shall work together for their good, and prepare them for the society of those who have come up out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

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The Saints not to Marvel at Persecution.

Marvel not, then, if you are persecuted; but remember the words of the Savior: "The servant is not above his Lord; if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also;" and that all the afflictions through which the Saints have to pass, are the fulfillment of the words of the Prophets which have spoken since the world began.

We shall therefore do well to discern the signs of the times as we pass along, that the day of the Lord may not "overtake us as a thief in the night." Afflictions, persecutions, imprisonments, and death, we must expect, according to the scriptures, which tell us that the blood of those whose souls were under the altar could not be avenged on them that dwell on the earth, until their brethren should be slain as they were.

The Crime of Missouri to be Viewed in the Light of the Civilized Age in which it was Committed.

If these transactions had taken place among barbarians, under the authority of a despot, or in a nation where a certain religion is established according to law, and all others proscribed, then there might have been some shadow of defense offered. But can we realize that in a land which is the cradle of liberty and equal rights, and where the voice of the conquerors who had vanquished our foes had scarcely died away upon our ears, where we frequently mingled with those who had stood amidst "the battle and the breeze," and whose arms have been nerved in the defense of their country and liberty, whose institutions are the theme of philosophers and poets, and held up to the admiration of the whole civilized world—in the midst of all these scenes, with which we were surrounded, a persecution the most unwarrantable was commenced, and a tragedy the most dreadful was enacted, by a large portion of the inhabitants of one of those free and sovereign states which comprise this vast Republic; and a deadly blow was struck at the institutions for which our fathers had fought many a hard battle, and for which many a patriot had shed his blood. Suddenly was heard, amidst the voice of joy and gratitude for our national liberty, the voice of mourning, lamentation and woe. Yes! in this land, a mob, regardless of those laws for which so much blood had been spilled, dead to every feeling of virtue and patriotism which animated the bosom of freemen, fell upon a people whose religious faith was different from their own, and not only destroyed their homes, drove them away, and carried off their property but murdered many a free-born son of America—a tragedy which has no parallel in modern, and hardly in ancient, times; even the face of the red man would be ready to turn pale at the recital of it. It would have been some consolation, if the authorities of the state had been innocent in this affair; but they are involved in the guilt thereof, and the blood of innocence, even of children, cry for vengeance upon them.

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The Appeal of the Prophet to the People of the United States.

I ask the citizens of this Republic whether such a state of things is to be suffered to pass unnoticed, and the hearts of widows, orphans, and patriots to be broken, and their wrongs left without redress? No! I invoke the genius of our Constitution. I appeal to the patriotism of Americans to stop this unlawful and unholy procedure; and pray that God may defend this nation from the dreadful effects of such outrages.

Is there no virtue in the body politic? Will not the people rise up in their majesty, and with that promptitude and zeal which are so characteristic of them, discountenance such proceedings, by bringing the offenders to that punishment which they so richly deserve, and save the nation from that disgrace and ultimate ruin, which otherwise must inevitably fall upon it?

Pursuit of Elder Markham.

Elder Markham had closed his business in Jackson county and returned to Far West, having been chased as far as the river by the mob on horses at full speed, for the purpose of shooting him. Brother Markham tarried in and near Far West until the 24th of April.

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On my arrival at Quincy I found the brethren had been diligent in preparing for an investigation of their wrongs in Missouri, as the following letters will show.

Letter of Governor Lucas of Iowa to Elder Rigdon.

Burlington, Iowa Territory,

April 22, 1839.

Dear Sir:—I herewith enclose two letters, one addressed to the President of the United States, and one to Governor Shannon, of Ohio. As the object sought by you is an investigation into the facts connected with your misfortunes, I have thought it the most prudent course to refrain from an expression of an individual opinion in the matter, relative to the merits or demerits of the controversy. I sincerely hope that you may succeed in obtaining a general investigation into the cause and extent of your sufferings, and that you may obtain from the government that attention which is your due as citizens of the United States.

Very respectfully your obedient servant,

Robert Lucas.

Doctor Sidney Rigdon.

Letter of Governor Lucas to President Martin Van Buren, Respecting the Latter-day Saints.

Burlington, Iowa Territory,

April 22, 1839.

To His Excellency, Martin Van Buren, President of the United States:

Sir:—I have the honor to introduce to your acquaintance, the bearer, Doctor Sidney Rigdon, who was for many years a citizen of the State of Ohio, and a firm supporter of the administration of the General Government.

Doctor Rigdon visits Washington (as I am informed) as the representative of a community of people called Mormons, to solicit from the Government of the United States, an investigation into the cause that led to their expulsion from the State of Missouri: together with the various circumstances connected with that extraordinary affair.

I think it due to that people to state, that they had for a number of years a community established in Ohio, and that while in that state they were (as far as I ever heard) believed to be an industrious, inoffensive people; and I have no recollection of having ever heard of any of them being charged in that state as violators of the laws.

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With sincere respect, I am your obedient servant,

Robert Lucas.

Letter of Governor Lucas to the Governor of Ohio Introducing President Rigdon.

Burlington, Iowa Territory,

April 22, 1839.

To His Excellency Wilson Shannon, Governor of the State of Ohio:

Sir:—I have the honor to introduce to your acquaintance, Doctor Sidney Rigdon, who was for many years a citizen of Ohio. Doctor Rigdon wishes to obtain from the General Government of the United States, an investigation into the causes that led to the expulsion of the people called Mormons from the State of Missouri; together with all the facts connected with that extraordinary affair. This investigation, it appears to me, is due them as citizens of the United States, as well as to the nation at large.

Any assistance that you can render the Doctor, towards accomplishing that desirable object, will be gratefully received and duly appreciated by your sincere friend and humble servant,

Robert Lucas.

Letter of W. W. Phelps to John P. Greene.

Far West, Missouri, April 23, 1839.

Sir:—The summit end of Mr. Benson's mill-dam was carried away by the late freshet, and, unless repaired, it will all go the next.

The committee have gone, and if Father Smith would send me a power of attorney, in connection with Mr. Benson's and Corrill's, I have a chance to sell it before it is all lost. Maybe I might save the old gentleman something, which I promised Hyrum I would do if possible, because they have now need. Will you have them do so?

W. W. Phelps.

To John P. Greene, Quincy, Illinois.

All this day I spent in greeting and receiving visits from my brethren and friends, and truly it was a joyful time.

Parley P. Pratt et al. Before the Grand Jury at Richmond.

Wednesday, April 24.—Elder Parley P. Pratt and his fellow prisoners were brought before the grand jury of Ray county at Richmond, and Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer were dismissed, after being imprisoned about six months. Mrs. Morris Phelps, who had been with her husband in prison some days, hoping he would be released, now parted from him, and, with her little infant, started for Illinois. The number of prisoners at Richmond was now reduced to four. King Follett having been added about the middle of April: he was dragged from his distressed family just as they were leaving the state. Thus of all the prisoners which were taken at an expense of two hundred thousand dollars, only two of the original ones who belonged to the Church, now remained (Luman Gibbs having denied the faith to try to save his life); these were Morris Phelps and Parley P. Pratt. All who were let to bail were banished from the state, together with those who bailed them.

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Thus none are like to have a trial by law but Brothers Pratt and Phelps, and they are without friends or witnesses in the state.

The Twelve en route for Far West.

Elders Clark and Turley met Alpheus Cutler, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, George A. Smith, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, John E. Page, Daniel Shearer, and others, going up from Quincy to Far West, to fulfill the revelation on the 26th of April, and Clark and Turley turned and went back with them.

Elder Markham visited at Tenney's Grove.

This evening I met the Church in council.

Minutes of a Council Meeting held at Quincy, Illinois.

Minutes of a council held in Quincy on the 24th day of April, A. D. 1839, when President Joseph Smith, Jun., was called to the chair, and Brother Alanson Ripley chosen Clerk.

After prayer by the chairman, Elder John P. Greene arose and explained the object of the meeting. A document intended for publication was handed in, touching certain things relative to disorderly persons, who have represented or may represent themselves as belonging to our Church; which document was approved by the council. After which it was

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Resolved first: That President Joseph Smith, Jun., Bishop Knight, and Brother Alanson Ripley, visit Iowa Territory immediately, for the purpose of making a location for the Church.

Resolved second: That the advice of the conference to the brethren in general is, that as many of them as are able, move north to Commerce, as soon as they possibly can.

Resolved third: That all the prisoners be received into fellowship.

Resolved fourth: That Brother Mulholland be appointed clerk pro tem.

Resolved fifth: That Father Smith's case relative to his circumstances, be referred to the Bishops.

Resolved sixth: That Brother Rogers receive some money to remunerate him for his services in transacting business for the Church in Missouri.

Alanson Ripley, Clerk.

Seeking a New Location.

Thursday, April 25.—I accompanied the committee to Iowa to select a location for the Saints. Elder Markham returned from Tenney's Grove to Far West, waiting the arrival of the brethren from Quincy.

Arrival of the Twelve at Far West.

Friday, April 26.—Early this morning, soon after midnight, the brethren arrived at Far West, and proceeded to transact the business of their mission according to the following minutes:

Minutes of the Meeting of the Twelve Apostles at Far West, April 26, 1839.

At a conference held at Far West by the Twelve, High Priests, Elders, and Priests, on the 26th day of April, 1839, the following resolution was adopted.

Resolved: That the following persons be no more fellowshiped in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but excommunicated from the same, viz.; Isaac Russell, Mary Russell, John Goodson and wife, Jacob Scott, Sen., and wife, Isaac Scott, Jacob Scott, Jun., Ann Scott, Sister Walton, Robert Walton, Sister Cavanaugh, Ann Wanlass, William Dawson, Jun., and wife, William Dawson, Sen., and wife, George Nelson, Joseph Nelson and wife and mother, William Warnock and wife, Jonathan Maynard, Nelson Maynard, George Miller, John Grigg and wife, Luman Gibbs, Simeon Gardner, and Freeborn Gardner.

The council then proceeded to the building spot of the Lord's House; when the following business was transacted: Part of a hymn was sung, on the mission of the Twelve.

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Elder Alpheus Cutler, the master workman of the house, then recommenced laying the foundation of the Lord's House, agreeably to revelation, by rolling up a large stone near the southeast corner.

The following of the Twelve were present: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, John E. Page, and John Taylor, who proceeded to ordain Wilford Woodruff, 2 and George A. Smith, (who had been previously nominated by the First Presidency, accepted by the Twelve, and acknowledged by the Church), to the office of Apostles and members of the quorum of the Twelve, to fill the places of those who are fallen. Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer (who had just been liberated from the Richmond prison, where they had been confined for the cause of Jesus Christ) were then ordained to the office of the Seventies.

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The Twelve then offered up vocal prayer in the following order; Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, John E. Page, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith. 3 After which we sung Adam-ondi-Ahman, and then the Twelve took their leave of the following Saints, agreeable to the revelation, viz.: Alpheus Cutler, Elias Smith, Norman Shearer, William Burton, Stephen Markham, Shadrach Roundy, William O. Clark, John W. Clark, Hezekiah Peck, Darwin Chase, Richard Howard, Mary Ann Peck, Artimesa Grainger, Martha Peck, Sarah Grainger, Theodore Turley, Hyrum Clark, and Daniel Shearer.

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Elder Alpheus Cutler then placed the stone before alluded to in its regular position, after which, in consequence of the peculiar situation of the Saints, he thought it wisdom to adjourn until some future time, when the Lord shall open the way; expressing his determination then to proceed with the building; whereupon the conference adjourned.

Brigham Young, President.

John Taylor, Clerk.

The Revelation of April 8, 1838, Fulfilled.

Thus was fulfilled a revelation of July 8, 1838, which our enemies had said could not be fulfilled, as no "Mormon" would be permitted to be in the state.

As the Saints were passing away from the meeting, Brother Turley said to Elders Page and Woodruff, "Stop a bit, while I bid Isaac Russell good bye;" and knocking at the door, called Brother Russell. His wife answered, "Come in, it is Brother Turley." Russell replied, "It is not; he left here two weeks ago;" and appeared quite alarmed; but on finding it was Brother Turley, asked him to sit down; but the latter replied, "I cannot, I shall lose my company." " Who is your company?" enquired Russell. "The Twelve." " The Twelve!" "Yes, don't you know that this is the twenty-sixth, and the day the Twelve were to take leave of their friends on the foundation of the Lord's House, to go to the islands of the sea? The revelation is now fulfilled, and I am going with them." Russell was speechless, and Turley bid him farewell.

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The brethren immediately returned to Quincy, taking with them the families from Tenney's Grove.

Chapter 22 Notes

1. See the prediction of the Prophet on the safety of himself and fellow prisoners, this volume, p. 200, note.

2. Wilford Woodruff was born March 1, 1807, at Farmington (now called Avon), Hartford County, Connecticut. He was the son of Aphek and Beulah Thompson Woodruff. His father, his grandfather, Eldad Woodruff, and his great-grandfather, Josiah Woodruff, were men of strong constitutions, and were noted for their arduous manual labors. His great-grandfather was nearly one hundred years old when he died, and was able to work until shortly before his decease. At an early age Wilfor assisted his father on the Farmington mills, and when 20 years of age, took charge of a flouring mill belonging to his aunt, Helen Wheeler, holding the position of manger for three years, when he was placed in charge of the Collins flouring mills at South Canton, Connecticut, and subsequently of the flouring mill owned by Richard B. Cowles, of New Hartford, Connecticut. In the spring of 1832 in company with his brother Azmon Woodruff, he went to Richland, Oswego county, New York, purchased a farm and sawmill, and settled down to business on his own account. On December 29, 1833, he and his brother Azmon heard the Gospel preached by Elders Zera Pulsipher and Elijah Cheney, and they both believed at once, entertained the Elders, offered themselves for baptism, read the Book of Mormon, and received the divine testimony of its truth. He was baptized and confirmed by Elder Zera Pulsipher, December 31, 1833. At a very early age Wilford Woodruff was imbued with religious sentiments, but never allied himself with any of the various sects. He received much information from Robert Mason, who resided at Simsbury, Connecticut, and was called "the old Prophet Mason." He taught that no man had authority to administer in the things of God without revelation from God; that the modern religious societies were without that authority; that the time would come when the true Church would be established with all its gifts and graces and manifestations, and that the same blessings enjoyed in the early Christian Church could be obtained in this age through faith. This led the youthful Wilford to hold aloof from the churches of the day, and to desire and pray for the coming of an Apostle or other inspired man to show the way of life. For three years previous to receiving the everlasting Gospel, he was impressed with the conviction that God was about to set up His Church and kingdom on the earth in the last days, and for the last time, hence, he was prepared to receive the truth when it was presented to him by the Elders. On January 2, 1834, he was ordained a Teacher, and on February 1st, being visited by Elder Parley P. Pratt, he was instructed to prepare himself to join the body of the Church at Kirtland. He immediately commenced to settle up his business, and started with wagon and horses, and arrived in Kirtland April 25, 1834. There he met with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and many leading Elders, and received much light and knowledge. A week later he went to New Portage, where he joined the company of volunteers which was organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and known as "Zion's Camp," to go into Missouri for the relief of the suffering Saints in that state. He remained with the camp through all its travels and trials, until it was dispersed in Clay county, Missouri. * * * At a meeting of the High Council in Lyman Wight's house, November 5, 1834, Brother Woodruff was ordained a Priest by Elder Simeon Carter, and was shortly afterwards sent on a mission to the Southern States. * * * On April 13, 1837, he married Phebe W. Carter. * * * In July of the same year, when enroute for a mission to the Fox Islands, he preached at Farmington, Connecticut, and converted several members of his father's house. In August he arrived in Fox Islands. (For an account of his success in that mission see volume 2, page 507, and note). In July, 1838, he again visited Farmington, Connecticut, and resumed his labors in the ministry, succeeding in converting his father and step-mother; his sister Eunice, and several other relatives. Meantime, he had been called by revelation (see D&C 118) to fill a vacancy in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and was ordained under the circumstances given in the minutes of the meeting of the Twelve Apostles at Far West, April 26, 1839. (The foregoing account of Wilford Woodruff's life is taken mainly from a sketch written by Franklin D. Richards, historian of the Church, at the request of Wilford Woodruff.)

3. Following is the prophet's account of George A. Smith:—

"George A. Smith, son of John and Clarissa Smith, was born June 26, 1817, in Potsdam, St. Lawrence county, New York. When nine years old he received a blow on the head which deprived him of his senses about three weeks. Five noted physicians decided that he must be trepanned, or he would not recover. His father dismissed them on this decision, believing that God would heal his son; and he firmly believes that He did heal him in answer to the prayer of faith. He was early trained by his parents, who were Presbyterians, to religious habits, and to a regular attendance in the Sabbath school. Hence he had early and anxious desires to know the way of life; but was not satisfied with the sects.

"In the summer of 1830, when my father and my brother Don Carlos visited relatives in St. Lawrence county, George A. became convinced of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and from that time defended the cause against those who opposed it.

"His mother was baptized in August, 1831. His father was baptized on the ninth of January, 1832, and ordained and Elder. He had been given up by the doctors to die of consumption. The weather was extremely cold, and the ice had to be cut. From that time he gained health and strength. George A. was baptized on the 10th of September, 1832, and on the 1st of May, 1833, his father and family took leave of their old home and removed to Kirtland, Ohio. George A. spent the season in laboring on the Temple, although much afflicted with inflammation of the eyes.

"On the 5th of May, 1834, he started for Zion, in the camp, and acted his part well as my armor-bearer although still much afflicted with sore eyes. On the twenty-eighth he was attacked by the cholera, but was delivered by faith. He was ordained into the first Seventy under my hands on the 1st of March, 1835, being seventeen years old. He left on the 5th of June, in company with Lyman Smith, for the State of New York, to preach the Gospel without purse or scrip. Traveled two thousand miles, baptized eight, held eighty meetings, and returned on the 2nd of November. Spent the winter in school, much afflicted with the rheumatism. In the spring, summer, and fall of 1836, he preached in different parts of Ohio with good success. Returned and went to school in the winter. On the 6th of June, 1837, he took leave of me and started with my blessing for the South. After a successful mission of ten months, mostly in Virginia, he returned and assisted his father in moving to Far West, Missouri. He was ordained a High Councilor at Adam-ondi-Ahman, and sent on a mission to the South in company with Don Carlos Smith; returned about the 25th of December.

"He visited me while in Liberty jail, when I made known to him that he was appointed to fill the place of Thomas B. Marsh in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He assisted in moving the Saints out of Far West, and returned with the twelve to fulfill the revelation concerning the Twelve taking their leave of the Saints on the building site of the Temple at Far West."