THE fall and winter of 1838 was one of the darkest periods in Church history. Mobocracy on one hand, and apostasy on the other, dealt the cause of God cruel blows, such as no human work could hope to withstand. The tempest of persecution, briefly lulled, burst forth with tenfold fury; no longer a city or county --a whole state rose in arms against God's people, bent upon their destruction. "The clogs of war" were loosed upon the helpless Saints, and murder and rapine held high carnival amid the smoking ruins of peaceful homes and ravaged fields.
Then fell the mask from the face of hypocrisy. Treason betrayed itself. Apostles, Presidents, and Elders fell from the faith and joined hands with the robbers and murderers of their brethren. Satan laughed! The very mouth of hell seemed opening to engulf the Kingdom which He who cannot lie has sworn shall stand forever.
Truly, those were "times that tried men's souls."
Like a rock in mid-ocean, facing the storm, unmoved by wind or wave, stood Heber C. Kimball; among the truest true, among the bravest brave. Referring to the time of his visit to Adam-ondi- Ahman, he says:
"In a few days an express came with the news that the mob was gathering in every part of Missouri to come against the Saints in Far West. We therefore returned to Caldwell County.
"Thomas B. Marsh left the day previous to the rest of the Twelve, pretending there was something very urgent at home, and when we arrived at Far West, October 22nd, we learned that he and Orson Hyde had left the city. Brother Hyde was sick when we went to Diahman.
"The Saints, tenacious of their liberties and sacred rights, resisted the unlawful designs of the mob, and with courage worthy of them guarded their families and their houses from their aggressions. But not without the loss of several lives, among whom was my much esteemed and lamented friend David W. Patten, who fell a sacrifice to the spirit of persecution and a martyr to the cause of truth. The circumstances of his death I will briefly relate.
"It being ascertained that a mob had collected on Crooked River, led by the Rev. Samuel Bogard, a Methodist preacher, a company of sixty or seventy persons immediately volunteered in Far West to watch their movements, and if necessary repel their attacks. They chose Elder Patten for their leader, and commenced their march about midnight, and came up to the mob at the dawn of October 25th. As the brethren were marching quietly along the road near the top of the hill, they were fired upon, when young O'Banyon reeled out of the ranks, and fell mortally wounded. Thus the work of death commenced, when Captain Patten ordered his men to charge the mob, who proved to be on the creek below. It was yet so dark that little could be seen, looking to the west; but the mob could see Captain Patten and his men in the dawning light, when they fired a broadside and three or four of the brethren fell. Captain Patten ordered the fire returned, giving the watchword, 'God and Liberty.' The brethren charged the camp, when the mob were soon put to flight and crossed the river at the ford. One of the mob fired from behind a tree, and shot Captain Patten, who instantly fell mortally wounded, the ball having pierced his abdomen.
"Immediately on receiving the intelligence that Brother Patten was wounded, I hastened to see him and found him in great pain, but still he was glad to see me; he was conveyed about four miles to the house of Brother Stephen Winchester; during his removal his sufferings were so excruciating that he frequently desired us to lay him down that he might die; but being desirous to get him out of the reach of the mob, we prevailed upon him to let us carry him among his friends. We carried him on a kind of bier, fixed up from poles.
"Although he had medical assistance, his wound was such that there was no hope entertained of his recovery, and this he was perfectly aware of. In this situation, while the shades of time were lowering, and eternity with all its realities opening to his view, he bore a strong testimony to the truth of the work of the Lord, and the religion he had espoused. He was perfectly sensible and collected until he breathed his last, which occurred at about ten o'clock in the evening. Stephen Winchester, Brother Patten's wife, Bathsheba W. Bigler, with several of her father's family were present at David's death.
"The principles of the Gospel which were so precious to him before, afforded him that support and consolation at the time of his departure, which deprived death of its sting and horror. Speaking of those who had fallen from their steadfastness he exclaimed,
'O that they were in my situation! For I feel that I have kept the faith, I have finished my course, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me.'
Speaking to his beloved wife, he said, 'Whatever you do else, O do not deny the faith.' He all the time expressed a great desire to depart. I said to him ' Brother David, when you get home, I want you to remember me.' He replied, 'I will.' At this time his sight was gone. A few minutes before he died, he prayed as follows, 'Father, I ask Thee in the name of Jesus Christ, that Thou wouldst release my spirit, and receive it unto Thyself.' And he then said to those who surrounded his dying bed, 'Brethren, you have held me by your faith, but do give me up, and let me go, I beseech you.' We accordingly committed him to God, and he soon breathed his last, and slept in Jesus without a groan.
"This was the death of one who was an honor to the Church and a blessing to the Saints ; and whose faith, virtues and diligence in the cause of truth will be had in remembrance by the Church of Jesus Christ from generation to generation. It was a painful way to be deprived of the labors of this worthy servant of Christ, and it cast a gloom upon the Saints ; yet the glorious and sealing testimony which he bore of his acceptance with heaven and the truth of the Gospel was a matter of joy and satisfaction, not only to his immediate friends, but to the Saints at large.
"I took Dr. Avard [yet another traitor] with me to Far West, a distance of three miles, to Elder Rigdon's house, where we found Brother Patrick O'Banyon, who was wounded in nearly the same manner as Brother Patten. He also died in a short time, firm and steadfast in the faith. He was perfectly calm and composed, and bore a strong testimony to the truth of Mormonism.
"Gideon Carter, who was also a faithful Saint, was shot in the head, and left dead on the ground, so defaced that the brethren did not at first know him.
"This was a gloomy time!"
"On the 30th (October 1838) we discovered several thousand of the mob coming to Far West, under pretense of being government troops; they passed through our corn and wheat fields, making a complete desolation of everything they came across.
"Brother Brigham and I were appointed captains of fifty, in a hurry, and commanded to take our position, right in the thoroughfare on which the mob was advancing to the city, momentarily anticipating the awful tragedy of a bloody massacre. Joseph was with us giving counsel.
"The army came up to within good rifle shot, and halted; seeing our temporary fortifications, which we had thrown up the night previous, by pulling down some of our houses, and fixing up our wagons; they dared not approach nearer, but retreated to Goose Creek, about three-fourths of a mile, screaming, hallooing and screeching; the devils in hell could not have made a more hideous howling. The mob declared there were fifteen hundred of us; but to my certain knowledge there were only about one hundred and fifty in that line.
"The word came to us that Joseph Smith and several others were to be given up, otherwise they would massacre every man, woman and child. In order to prevent this horrible threat from being executed, Joseph gave himself up, with Elders Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, and George W. Robinson, they having been betrayed into the mob camp by Col. George M. Hinkle and other apostates, on the 3ist of October.
"November 1st, the mob, professing to be the regular militia of the state of Missouri, numbering about 7,000, surrounded Far West, we were all taken prisoners and then marched a short distance into a hollow, where Col. Lucas had previously pointed his cannon, in full range, so that if we had not laid down our arms, he could easily sweep us into eternity, which was his design. We were then formed into a hollow square, and commanded by Col. Lucas to ground arms and deliver up our weapons of war, although they were our own private property. We were then marched back a short distance, on the public square in Far West, where we were again formed into a hollow square, near the house of Brother Beeman.
"The mob then commenced plundering the citizens of their bedding, clothing, money, wearing apparel, and everything of value they could lay their hands upon; and also attempting to violate the chastity of the women in sight of their husbands, pretending they were hunting for prisoners and fire-arms.
"The most of us had not had any food for twenty-four hours, not having time to go to our houses to get it. When these troops surrounded us, and we were brought into a hollow square, the first persons that I knew were men who had once professed to be beloved brethren, and they were the men who piloted these mobs into our city, namely William McLellin and Lyman E. Johnson, two of the twelve; John Whitmer and David Whitmer, two of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon; William W. Phelps and scores of others, hail fellows well met. A portion of the troops were painted like Indians, and looked horrible, led by Neil Gillium, who styled himself 'The Delaware Chief;' who, with many others cocked their guns upon us and swore they would blow our brains out, although we were disarmed and helpless.
"William E. McLellin wanted to know where Heber C. Kimball was. Some one pointed me out to him as I was sitting on the ground. He came up to me and said:
'Brother Heber, what do you think of the fallen prophet now? Has he not led you blindfolded long enough? Look and see yourself, poor, your family stripped and robbed, and your brethren in the same fix; are you satisfied with Joseph?'
I replied, 'Yes, I am more satisfied with him a hundred fold than ever I was before, for I see you in the very position that he foretold you would be in; a Judas to betray your brethren, if you did not forsake your adultery, fornication, lying and abominations. Where are you? What are you about? You, and Hinkle, and scores of others; have you not betrayed Joseph and his brethren into the hands of the mob, as Judas did Jesus? Yes, verily, you have; I tell you Mormonism is true, and Joseph is a true prophet of the living God; and you with all others that turn therefrom will be damned and go to hell, and Judas will rule over you.'
"Soon after this, when things began to be a little more quiet, I desired to go to my home to get something to eat as I had not eaten anything for many hours. I asked some of the mob standing near, if I could not have the privilege to go to my house, a little distance off; they referred me to their captain, who was Bogard, the Methodist preacher. I went to him and told him what I wanted. He first spoke of sending some one with me, as I would be liable to be shot if found alone. In a short time says he, 'I will go with you.' He went down to my house; my wife prepared some dinner, and he ate with me; then we returned, and I took my seat on the ground with my brethren who were under guard.
"The next day, 2nd, I was permitted to return to my house, but was told not to leave the city, as it was surrounded by a strong guard to prohibit anyone leaving the place; they were engaged in taking every man who seemed to have any influence, and putting them in chains to stand a trial. They were pointed out by the apostate allies of the mob.
"We were brought up at the point of the bayonet and compelled to sign a deed of trust, transferring all our property to defray the expenses of this war made on us by the State of Missouri. This was complied with, because we could not help ourselves. When we walked up to sign the deeds of trust to pay these assassins for murdering our brethren and sisters, and their children; ravishing some of our sisters to death ; robbing us of our lands and possessions and all we had on earth, and other similar "services," they expected to see us cast down and sorrowful, but I testify as an eye witness that the brethren rejoiced and praised the Lord, for His sake taking joyfully the despoiling of their goods. Judges and magistrates, Methodist, Presbyterian, Campbellite and other sectarian priests stood by and saw all this going on, exulting over us, and it seemed to make them more angry that we bore our misfortunes so cheerfully. Judge Cameron said, with an oath, 'See them laugh and kick up their heels. They are whipped, but not conquered.'
'On the 6th, Gen. Clark delivered his noted extermination speech, and read over the names of the brethren who were made prisoners, to await a trial for something, they knew not what, and placed under a strong guard. In order that the tyrant may not be forgotten I insert a portion of his speech:
''Gentlemen, you whose names are not attached to this list of names, will now have the privilege of going to your fields and of providing corn, wood, etc., for your families. Those who are now taken will go from this to prison, be tried and receive the due demerit of their crimes. But you (excepting such as charges may be hereafter preferred against) are at liberty as soon as the troops are removed that now guard the place, which I shall cause to be done immediately. It now devolves upon you to fulfill the treaty that you have entered into, the leading items of which I shall now lay before you."I was present," continues Heber, "when that speech was delivered, and I can truly say ' he is a liar and the truth is not in him for not one of us had made any such agreement with Lucas, or any other person; what we did was by compulsion in every sense of the word, and as for Gen. Clark and his 'unknown God,' they had nothing to do with our deliverance, but it was our Father in heaven, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, in whom we trust, who liveth and dwelleth in the heavens, and the day will come when our God will hold him in derision with all his coadjutors."
"The first requires that your leading men be given up to be tried according to law; this you have complied with.
"The second is that you deliver up your arms this has also been attended to. The third stipulation is that you sign over your properties to defray the expenses that have been incurred on your account; this you have also done. Another article yet remains for you to comply with, and that is, that you leave the State forth-with; and whatever may be your feelings concerning this, or whatever your innocence is, it is nothing to me. General Lucas (whose military rank is equal to mine) has made this treaty with you, and I approve of it. I should have done the same had I been here, and am therefore determined to see it executed.
"The character of this State has suffered almost beyond redemption, from the character, conduct and influence that you have exerted; and we deem it an act of justice to restore her character by every proper means.
"The order of the Governor to me was that you should be exterminated, and not allowed to remain in the State. And had not your leaders been given up, and the terms of the treaty complied with before this time, your families would have been destroyed and your houses in ashes.
"There is a discretionary power vested in my hands, which, considering your circumstances, I shall exercise for a season. You are indebted to me for this clemency. I do not say that you shall go now, but you must not think of staying here another season, or of putting in any crops; for the moment you do this the citizens will be upon you; and if I am called here again, in case of non-compliance with the treaty made, do not think I shall act as I have done now. You need not expect any mercy, but extermination, for I am determined the Governor's order shall be executed.
"As for your leaders, do not think, do not imagine for a moment, do not let it enter your minds that they will be delivered and restored to you again, for their fate is fixed, the die is cast, their doom is sealed.
"I am sorry, gentlemen, to see so many apparently intelligent men found in the situation that you are; and oh! if I could invoke that great Spirit of the unknown God to rest upon and deliver you from that awful chain of superstition, and liberate you from those fetters of fanaticism with which you are bound that you no longer do homage to a man.
"I would advise you to scatter abroad and never again organize yourselves with Bishops, Priests, etc., lest you excite the jealousies of the people and subject yourselves to the same calamities that have now come upon you.
"You have always been the aggressors, you have brought upon yourselves these difficulties, by being disaffected, and not being subject to rule, and my advice is, that you become as other citizens, lest by a recurrence of these events you bring upon yourselves irretrievable ruin."
"You must not be seen as many as five together, if you are, the citizens will be upon you and destroy you, but you should flee immediately out of the state. There is no alternative for you but to flee, you need not expect any redress ; there is none for you."