Sunday, May 7, 2017

Harold B. Lee: Follow Living Prophets


It is very interesting to see the reaction of people. Soon after President David O. McKay announced to the Church that members of the First Council of the Seventy were being ordained high priests in order to extend their usefulness and to give them authority to act when no other General Authority could be present, a seventy I met in Phoenix, Arizona, was very much disturbed.

He said to me, "Didn't the Prophet Joseph Smith say that this was contrary to the order of heaven to name high priests as presidents of the First Council of the Seventy?"

And I said, "Well, I have understood that he did, but have you ever thought that what was contrary to the order of heaven in 1840 might not be contrary to the order of heaven in 1960?"

He had not thought of that. He again was following a dead prophet, and he was forgetting that there is a living prophet today. Hence the importance of our stressing that word living.

Years ago as a young missionary I visited Nauvoo and Carthage with my mission president, and we were holding a missionary meeting in the jail room where Joseph and Hyrum had met their deaths. The mission president related the historical events that led up to the martyrdom and then he closed with this very significant statement: "When the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, there were many saints who died spiritually with Joseph." So it was when Brigham Young died: so it was when John Taylor died. Do revelations given to President John Taylor, for example, have any more authority than something that comes from our president and prophet today? Some Church members died spiritually with Wilford Woodruff, with Lorenzo Snow, with Joseph F. Smith, with Heber J. Grant, with George Albert Smith. We have some today willing to believe someone who is dead and gone and to accept his words as having more authority than the words of a living authority today.

(Harold B. Lee, _Stand Ye In Holy Places_, pp. 152-3)

Eliza R. Snow's Faith and Courage During the Missouri Expulsion


The "Extermination Order" was issued by Governor Lilburn W. Boggs of Missouri on October 27, 1838.

The clemency of our law-abiding, citizen-expelling Governor allowed us ten days to leave our county, and, till the expiration of that term, a posse of militia was to guard us against mobs; but it would be very difficult to tell which was better, the militia or the mob -- nothing was too mean for the militia to perform -- no property was safe within the reach of those men.

One morning, while we were hard at work, preparing for our exit, the former occupant of our house entered, and in an impudent and arrogant manner inquired how soon we should be out of it. My American blood warmed to the temperature of an insulted, free-born citizen, as I looked at him and thought, poor man, you little think with whom you have to deal -- God lives! He certainly overruled in that instance, for those wicked men never got possession of that property, although my father sacrificed it to American mobocracy.

In assisting widows and others who required help, my father's time was so occupied that we did not start until the morning of the 10th, the last day of the allotted grace. The weather was very cold and the ground covered with snow. After assisting in the arrangements for the journey, and shivering with cold, in order to warm my aching feet, I walked until the teams overtook me.

In the meantime, I met one of the so-called militia, who accosted me with,"Well, I think this will cure you of your faith!"

Looking him steadily in the eye, I replied, "No, sir; it will take more than  this to cure me of my faith."

His countenance suddenly fell, and he responded, "I must confess, you are a better soldier than I am."

I passed on, thinking that, unless he was above the average of his fellows in that section, I was not highly complimented by his confession. It is true our hardships and privations were sufficient to have disheartened any but the Saints of the living God -- those who were prompted by higher than earthly motives, and trusting in the arm of Jehovah.

(Tullidge, _The Women of Mormondom_, pp. 143-145)

Ephraim Hanks - True to the Prophet


Ephraim Hanks had known Brigham Young since the Nauvoo days. Ephraim's loyalty to the Brethren and his willingness to obey strictly the counsel of the prophet on any matter caused him to be much beloved and trusted by President Young...

On a fall morning in 1848, President Young drove to where Ephraim was building an adobe house inside the Old Fort. Looking over the completed foundation, he inquired as to the thickness of the rock wall. "Eight inches," replied Ephraim. "Tear it down and build it twice that thick," suggested Brigham, who then promptly drove away before Ephraim could answer. To rebuild meant hauling more rock and doing twice the work they thought was necessary.... Nevertheless, they widened the foundation to sixteen inches according to the leader's instruction. Ephraim was fitting the rafters on the house a month later when a heavy rain began falling, ultimately causing widespread flooding and considerable damage in parts of the valley. Ephraim's reinforced walls stood firm against the resulting deluge, however, thus preventing a possible collapse of the entire structure. Others were not so fortunate. From then on when Brigham talked, Ephraim listened.

Not long following this incident with Brigham Young, Ephraim met this Mormon leader at a dance in Salt Lake City. Again he counseled Ephraim. This time Ephraim was to go home and shave his face. Like many men of his day, Ephraim wore a beard almost to his waist. Somewhat puzzled, he left the social and rode home, pondering the unusual request. In an hour, however, he returned to the dance without a beard, but still wearing a mustache which he hadn't shaved. Still not satisfied with his appearance, Brigham Young indicated with a sweep of the hand across Ephraim's face that he wanted a clean shave. Excusing himself a second time, Ephraim complied by shaving his entire face. It was perhaps this type of obedience to counsel that prompted the Mormon Church President to later say of Ephraim that "Here was a man always ready to lay down his life for the authorities of the Church as well as for the cause of Zion and her people."

Because of his obedience to counsel and his loyalty to the Brethren, Ephraim Hanks became a spiritual giant in his own right and was able to render significant service to the Church and to his fellowmen...

- Richard K. Hanks, "Eph Hanks, Pioneer Scout," unpublished master's thesis, BYU, 1973, pp. 26-27. Quoted in "Follow the Living Prophets", Topp, Dahl & Bowen, p. 156-7

Zion's Camp Protected From a Mob


In the spring of 1834, Joseph assembled a group of about 200 men from Ohio and elsewhere who came to be known as "Zion's Camp." They marched some 800 miles to Jackson Country, Missouri, with the apparent objective of returning the exiled Saints to their rightful residences. Though that objective was not obtained, it was a time of training and sifting for many who later became leaders in the Church... nine of the first twelve apostles, and all of the first quorum of seventy, were part of Zion's Camp.

As we halted and were making preparations for the night, five men armed with guns rode into our camp, and told us we should "see hell before morning;" and their accompanying oaths partook of all the malice of demons. They told us that sixty men were coming from Richmond, Ray county, and seventy more from Clay county, to join the Jackson county mob, who had sworn our utter destruction.
During this day, the Jackson county mob, to the number of about two hundred, made arrangements to cross the Missouri river, above the mouth of Fishing river, at Williams' ferry, into Clay county, and be ready to meet the Richmond mob near Fishing river ford for our utter destruction; but after the first scow load of about forty had been set over the river, the scow in returning was met by a squall, and had great difficulty in reaching the Jackson side by dark.

When these five men were in our camp, swearing vengeance, the wind, thunder, and rising cloud indicated an approaching storm, and in a short time after they left the rain and hail began to fall. * The storm was tremendous; wind and rain, hail and thunder met them in great wrath, and soon softened their direful courage, and frustrated all their designs to "kill Joe Smith and his army." Instead of continuing a cannonading which they commenced when the sun was about one hour high, they crawled under wagons, into hollow trees, and filled one old shanty, till the storm was over, when their ammunition was soaked, and the forty in Clay county were extremely anxious in the morning to return to Jackson, having experienced the pitiless pelting of the storm all night; and as soon as arrangements could be made, this "forlorn hope" took the "back track" for Independence, to join the main body of the mob, fully satisfied, as were those survivors of the company who were drowned, that when Jehovah fights they would rather be absent. The gratification is too terrible.

Very little hail fell in our camp, but from half a mile to a mile around, the stones or lumps of ice cut down the crops of corn and vegetation generally, even cutting limbs from trees, while the trees, themselves were twisted into withes by the wind. The lightning flashed incessantly, which caused it to be so light in our camp through the night, that we could discern the most minute objects; and the roaring of the thunder was tremendous. The earth trembled and quaked, the rain fell in torrents, and, united, it seemed as if the mandate of vengeance had gone forth from the God of battles, to protect His servants from the destruction of their enemies, for the hail fell on them and not on us, and we suffered no harm, except the blowing down of some of our tents, and getting wet; while our enemies had holes made in their hats, and otherwise received damage, even the breaking of their rifle stocks, and the fleeing of their horses through fear and pain.

Many of my little band sheltered in an old meetinghouse through this night, and in the morning the water in Big Fishing river was about forty feet deep, where, the previous evening, it was no more than to our ankles, and our enemies swore that the water rose thirty feet in thirty minutes in the Little Fishing river. They reported that one of their men was killed by lightning, and that another had his hand torn off by his horse drawing his hand between the logs of a corn crib while he was holding him on the inside. They declared that if that was the way God fought for the Mormons, they might as well go about their business.

*FOOTNOTE: Wilford Woodruff says that when the five men entered the camp there was not a cloud to be seen in the whole heavens, but as the men left the camp there was a small cloud like a black spot appeared in the north west, and it began to unroll itself like a scroll, and in a few minutes the whole heavens were covered with a pall as black as ink. This indicated a sudden storm which soon broke upon us with wind, rain, thunder and lightning and hail. Our beds were soon afloat and our tents blown down over our heads. We all fled into a Baptist meetinghouse. As the Prophet Joseph came in shaking the water from his hat and clothing he said, "Boys, there is some meaning to this. God is in this storm." We sang praises to God, and lay all night on benches under cover while our enemies were in the pelting storm. It was reported that the mob cavalry who fled into the schoolhouse had to hold their horses by the bridles between the logs, but when the heavy hail storm struck them they broke away, skinning the fingers of those who were holding them. The horses fled before the storm and were not found for several days. It was reported that the captain of the company in the schoolhouse said it was a strange thing that they could do nothing against the Mormons but what there must be some hail storm or some other thing to hinder their doing anything, but they did not feel disposed to acknowledge that God was fighting our battles. (Wilford Woodruff's note in Ms. History of the church, Book A p. 332.)
(History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.7, pp. 103-5)

(Compiled and written by David Kenison)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wilford and Phebe Woodruff Lose a Daughter

When Wilford Woodruff left his wife, Phebe, and his daughter, Sarah Emma, for his first mission to Great Britain in 1839, Phebe was pregnant. During his travels to England he dreamed about his wife. On 28 November 1839 he related:

"[I] had a dream while upon my bed. And in my dream I saw Mrs. Woodruff, and notwithstanding we rejoiced much having an interview with each other, yet our embraces were mixed with sorrow for after conversing a while about her domestic affairs I asked where Sarah Emma was, our only child. She [said] weeping and kissing me, 'She is dead.' We sorrowed a moment and [then] I awoke. Phebe also said she had not received my letters. Is this dream true? Time must determine."

Nearly a year later on 26 November 1840, Wilford received several letters from Nauvoo, one from Sister Margaret Smoot and another from his beloved Phebe -- his dream had indeed been a warning. He noted, "The letters from Phebe and Sister Smoot gave an account of the death and burial of our oldest child Sarah Emma, who died July 17, 1840, being two years and three days old."
Phebe wrote to Wilford on the day following Sarah Emma's death:

"My dear Wilford, what will be your feelings, when I say that yesterday I was called to witness the departure of our little Sarah Emma from this world? Yes, she is gone. The relentless hand of death has snatched her from my embrace. But Ah! She was too lovely, too kind, too affectionate to live in this wicked world. When looking on her I have often thought how I should feel to part with her, I thought I could not live without her, especially in the absence of my companion. But she has gone."

Phebe continued, "Yes, Wilford we have one little angel in heaven, and I think likely her spirit has visited you before this time." Her description of the last days and moments of Sarah Emma's life must have caused tears to well up in her lonely companion's eyes. "She used to call her poor papa and putty papa many times in a day. She left a kiss for her papa with me just before she died."

The walk to the cemetery was quite hard for the young mother. "She had no relative to follow her to the grave or to shed a tear for her," Phebe wrote Wilford, "only her Ma and little Wilford [a son born while Wilford was gone]."

(Holzapfel, _Women of Nauvoo_, pp. 75-76)

(Compiled and written by David Kenison, Orem, Utah,

Mary Fielding Smith's Oxen are Administered To

Mary Fielding Smith was a woman of remarkable faith and testimony. She was the wife of Hyrum Smith; her oldest son, Joseph Fielding Smith, and her grandson of the same name, both became Presidents of the Church. When Mary crossed to Utah in 1848, her son Joseph was 9 years old.

Things went quite smoothly until they reached a point midway between the Platte and the Sweetwater rivers, when one of Mary's best oxen lay down in the yoke as if poisoned and all supposed he would die. All the teams in the rear stopped, and many gathered around to see what had happened. In a short time, the Captain perceived that something was wrong and came to the spot. The ox stiffened in the throes of death. The Captain blustered about and exclaimed: "'He is dead, there is no use working with him, we'll have to fix up some way to take the Widow along. I told her she would be a burden on the company.'" But in this, he was greatly mistaken.

Mary said nothing but went to her wagon and returned with a bottle of consecrated oil. She asked her brother Joseph and James Lawson to administer to her fallen ox, believing that the Lord would raise him. It was a solemn moment there under the open sky. A hush fell over the scene. The men removed their hats. All bowed their heads as Joseph Fielding, who had been promised by Heber C. Kimball that he would have power to raise the dead, knelt, laid his hands on the head of the prostrate ox, and prayed over it. The great beast lay stretched out and very still. Its glassy eyes looked nowhere. A moment after the administration the animal stirred. Its huge, hind legs commenced to gather under it. Its haunches started to rise. The forelegs strengthened. The ox stood and, without urging, started off as if nothing had happened. This amazing thing greatly astonished the onlookers.

They hadn't gone very far when another ox "Old Bully," lay down under exactly the same circumstances. This time it was one of her best oxen, the loss of which would have been very serious. Again, the holy ordinance was administered, with the same results.

How the family loved these dumb beasts of burden. So much depended on them. They had heroic association with the family. Sixty-nine years later, Joseph F. Smith at a 24th of July celebration affectionately mentioned the oxen that brought his mother and family to the Valley.

"...My team consisted of two pairs, or yokes, of oxen. My leaders' names were Thom and Joe -- we raised them from calves, and they were both white. My wheel team was named Broad and Berry. Broad was light brindle with a few white spots on his body, and he had long, broad, pointed horns, from which he got his name. Berry was red and bony and short horned. Thom was trim built, active, young, and more intelligent than many a man. Many times while traveling sandy or rough roads, long thirsty drives, my oxen, lowing with the heat and fatigue, I would put my arms around Thom's neck, and cry bitter tears. That was all I could do. Thom was my favorite and best and most willing and obedient servant and friend. He was choice!"

(From _Mary Fielding Smith_, by Don C. Corbett, pp. 236-238)