Ep 64 – Death of Joseph Smith
On this episode, we bid farewell to some prominent members of the Mormon church as so many were perishing due to famine and resulting sickness. Joseph Smith Sr., Big Daddy Cheese as we know him, imparts blessings on his wife and children as the darkness begins to close in. After that, we catch up with Bloody Brigham and the quorum of the Twelve on their incredibly successful mission to England, where Brigham was getting a feel for what it was like to run his own religion. Later we’ll bring on Ryan McKnight for a Mormon Leaks Minute about church leaks featuring Denver Snuffer and a huge document of sex abuse allegations raised against the church. It’s not a happy episode today…
Times and Seasons Vol 1
RadioWest Denver Snuffer by Doug Fabrizio
Instances of Child Sexual Abuse by Member of LDS church
Music by Jason Comeau http://aloststateofmind.com/
Show Artwork http://weirdmormonshit.com/
Legal Counsel http://patorrez.com/
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Last episode we discussed the smear campaign Jo was embarking upon against President Van Buren for his inaction in helping the Mormons. Jo later introduced the idea of baptisms for the dead and the waters of the Mississippi were continuously troubled from that time forth with Mormons getting dunked for perished loved ones. We discussed the subtle and overt influences John Bennett was exhibiting on Jo to push the church towards his personal agenda. Unfortunately, there’s no way to gauge just how much Bennett influenced Jo as things near the breaking point of Brokeit’s expose on the Mormons in 1842.
That’s enough roundup to milk us out for today, let’s chow down on some meat for our palettes.
The bitter winter of 1839-40 had taken its toll on the Mormons. They had become religious refugees and had to deal with all the pain and suffering included in being a maligned group of society trying to make their way through settling untamed land in frontier America. They had suffered hundreds of losses of dear friends and family from sickness which stemmed from living out of covered wagons or makeshift lean-tos and the resulting malnourishment. Sickness alone had been decimating the Mormon population on a near weekly basis. All they could focus on was building shelters and scraping by through the harsh Illinois and Iowa winter, no thoughts of homemaking or hobby pursuit were on the minds of any of the Mormons as even the youngest children were forced into excruciating labor to keep the family alive.
Given such a hard winter into the beginning months of 1840, the Saints were fully aware of what could await them in the upcoming winter leading into 1841, even if it were only marginally as harsh as the previous winter. The problem is, Commerce Illinois and the surrounding land the Mormons had purchased was still largely untamed wilderness and a recently drained swampland. One summer wasn’t enough to prepare the saints to survive another winter, but this was a trend which had been effecting the majority of Mormons for the past few years.
When they were in Ohio, most of the Mormons were living in homes with small farms within a few day’s journey of HQ in Kirtland. But, with the massive debt Rigdon and Jo had dug themselves into, they were forced to flee in the winter of 1837-38. They fled with such haste and commanded the same of all faithful Mormons that much of the food and merchandise owned by those fleeing Ohio for Missouri was sold at rock-bottom prices or wholly abandoned, which was only made worse by the inflation which had set the Panic of 1837 in motion.
The Mormons had one full year to set up and cultivate their strongholds in Far West and Adam-ondi-ahmon, Missouri. That was one year of constant chaos with endless work to cultivate untamed land and fight off the anti-Mormon mobocrats while still practicing some semblance of religion under a leadership which was becoming increasingly martial with each passing day.
Then comes the winter of 1838-39 after the Mormons in Missouri had surrendered and were removed from the State, which the majority spent in the state slowly migrating towards the Mississippi. By the time July rolled around and the investigative committee appointed by Missouri was supposed to conduct their investigation, there were hardly any Mormons remaining in the state and the Government overlooked the entire ordeal. The Spring and Summer of 1839 was spent erecting small shacks to keep the Mormons out of the Snow. They had to house somewhere around 15,000 people in an area which was otherwise open fields and small groupings of trees which were enough to be a nuisance but not enough to supply the needed lumber to construct sufficient housing. Some crops went in the ground during this summer though, and if not for those crops going in and being hastily harvested before the first freeze of 1839, it’s likely scores more Mormons would have perished through the winter of 1839-40.
Let’s face it, a first-year’s harvest on brand new land with new soil and precipitation patterns were likely to be much less productive than harvests the Mormons harvested from their well-established farms in Ohio. Each time they moved, the majority of them were likely to see further reduced returns with each new spring and summer in a new location, and their location had been new every summer for the previous 3 years. Even if the Mormons were producing a conservative 70% of the crops they’d been producing their previous years before that in Ohio, they were still soaking up converts from all over the world with false promises of a successful community who were coming to Missouri and Illinois with nothing. The point I’m making is, by the summer of 1840, the 4-year long self-perpetuating resource vacuum was powerful, and the conclusion to any population which is starved for resources is inevitably a reduction in said population. When people don’t have enough food, they get sick and die.
I don’t want to dwell on the death and misfortune of the Saints, but I’ve only really just made passing reference to how many people were perishing under these circumstances and the medicinal procedures of Jo, Emma, and other medicine people which were met with mixed results.
I could read the names of all the deceased, and that would be the rest of the podcast, because the list is extensive. Instead, we’ll spend a little bit of time reading through some of the most prominent names we’ve been exposed to or connected with at some point in the historical timeline and peacefully lay those to rest as most of them were likely haphazardly buried in large gravesites devoted to just the perished Mormons. You’ll find links to all the obituary pages from the Times and Seasons vol 1, hosted on the online BYU library in the show notes if you care to dive deeper into any of these names.
Dec 1839 –
Zina Huntington, mother to one of Jo’s soon-to-be wives died at the age of 53
Orin Rockwell, father to pistol packin’ Porter Rockwell, one of the first converts to the church died at 55
James Mulholland, member of the seventy who’d been a member of Zion’s camp, died at age 35
Nancy Rigdon, Hingepin Rigdon’s mother and namesake of his daughter, died at age 80
Stephen Shumway, a man who’d helped in Ohio’s legal affairs, died at age 34
Caroline Rogers, no notable place in our timeline, but died at an astonishingly youthful age of 22
Nearly a whole family was wiped out. John Clark aged 31, Harriet Clark aged 11, and Alpheus Clark aged 9, all died the same month
John Young, father to Brigham, Joseph, Phineas and all the Young brothers, a revolutionary war vet, died at 77
Harriet Pamela Partridge died, daughter of Bishop Edward Party-Boy Partridge, at the age of 19. But to make things worse for Lydia Partridge, Edward, the party-boy Partridge himself, died at age 46. Of course, since he’d been a loved and trusted member in good-standing since he joined in late 1830 along with Hingepin Rigdon when they went out to meet Jo in New York to investigate the Book of Mormon, Party-Boy Partridge received a full send-off with his obituary, from which these are a couple extracts:
“In recording the death of this, our brother, we record the death of one of our earliest, most faithful, and confidential members. His life was one continual exhibition of the sincerity of his religious belief, and a perpetual evidence of his confidence in a future state of rewards and punishments: In view of which he always acted…No man had the confidence of the church more than he. His station was highly responsible; large quantities of property ever entrusted to his care. Deeds and conveyances of lands, to a large amount, were put into his hands, for the benifit of the poor, and for church purposes; for all of which, the directest account was rendered, to the fullest satisfaction of all concerned. And after he had distributed a handsome property, of his own, for the benifit of the poor; and being driven from his home, found himself reduced to very limited circumstances, still, not one cent of public property would he use to indemnify himself or family; but distributed it all, for the benefit of the widow, the fatherless, and the afflicted; has deceased, leaving his family in very ordinary circumstances… A life of greater devotedness to the cause of truth, we presume, was never spent on this earth. His religion was his all, for this he spent his life, and for this he laid it down. He lost his life in consequence of the Missouri persecutions, and he is one of that number whose blood will be required at their hands. As a church we deplore our loss, but we rejoice in his gain. He rests where persecutors can assail him no more.”
Anna P. Johnson, wife of Joel H. Johnson, a later Mormon apologist in Utah and daughter in law to John Johnson with whom Jo stayed when he first moved to Ohio, died at the age of 40 years. From her obituary: “She was a kind and attentive companion, and a tender and offectionate mother. She died rejoicing in the hope of a glorious resurrection among the just.”
Col. Seymour Brunson, aged 40 years, died. From his obituary: “Col. Brunson, was one among the first elders; he has always been a lively stone in the building of God: he was much respected by his friends and acquaintances; he died in the triumphs of faith, and in his dying moments he bore testimony to the gospel he had embraced by which ‘life and immortality was bro’t to light.’”
Those were just a few obituaries which led us up to September of 1840. Trust me, I culled a lot of the lesser known names from the list, but the reason we read so many of these was to hopefully gain some kind of understanding or sympathy for what the Mormons were suffering through. The sickness was killing indiscriminately, and everybody was a victim. Loved ones were dropping like flies. Those excerpts lead us to one of the most prominent Mormon losses during 1840, Big Daddy Cheese, Joseph Smith Sr. He had provided guidance to young Jo in his occult practices and magician apprenticeship since his youngest days, teaching the young boy prophet how to manipulate the world around him with magic spells and incantations, schooling him in the curative properties of plants and roots and fostering imaginative creativity in the young prophet’s mind.
Before reading Joseph Smith Sr.’s funeral sermon, let’s get an idea for some of the skills he passed to the young prophet both prior to Mormonism and during his days as Patriarch of the church. This only offers a small window into Jo and Jo jr.’s relationship. Any relationship between father and son is complex, so, in order to get a proper feeling from Jo’s own autobiographical tendencies in the Book of Mormon, you can see some of the parallels between Nephi and his father, Lehi, exhibited between Jo and his father, Jo Sr. These excerpts I’m about to pull from Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview, show us how much Jo emulated and revered his own visionary father.
Beginning with page 31 and moving through some excerpts all the way up to page 313 of D. Michael Quinn’s Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview:
“In three separate interviews, Orlando’s brother Lorenzo Saunders said he observed a folk magic activity of Joseph Smith, Sr. At “turky shoots” [sic], Joseph Sr. ‘pretended to enchant their guns so that they could not kill a turkey.’ Asked ‘How would he do that?’ Lorenzo replied: ‘He would blow in the gun and feel around the lock [and] then tell them it was charmed and they could not kill the turkey.’”
“Jesse [Smith] condemned the report that his brother [Joseph Sr.] ‘has a wand or rod like Jannes & Jambres who withstood Moses in Egypt—that he can tell the distance from India to Ethiopia &c another fool story, many other things alike ridiculous.’”
“Such [divining] practices were common among individuals, yet a religious group began using forked divining rods for revelatory purposes in Vermont about 1800. This was not far from the Smiths or from William Cowdery (father of future Book of Mormon scribe Oliver Cowdery). At Middletown, Vermont, Nathaniel Wood was instructing his followers that ‘they were descendants of the ancient Jews, and lawful inheritors of the whole country.’ They believed in alchemy and used a ‘cleft stick, or rod,’ to discover ‘the hidden treasures of the earth’ and to receive instructions by ‘a nod of assent…from the rods’. This included a revelation ‘that they must build a temple.’… A Vermont newspaper called them a ‘Fraternity of Rodsmen’.
The Wood group’s civil prominence, fervor, and open conflict with non-believers led to the so-called ‘Wood Scrape,’ a sensational event known far beyond the Cowdery family’s residence six miles away. The Wood group’s ‘Fraternity of Rodsmen’ boldly prophesied they would inherit that region of the country in an apocalyptic event on 14 January 1802. Tensions built during the weeks before the expected doomsday. ‘As the 14th of January approached, excitement increased throughout the town, and the militia were required to be in order for service at a moment’s warning.’ So intense were emotions that the militia even fired upon members of the Wood group that evening and again at midnight.”
“Prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Sr. expressed a similar view of the Urim and Thummim, but applied that term to treasure-digging. The LDS newspaper published a verbatim transcript of this long interview as a faith-promoting report of the Smith family by a merchant in Palmyra during the 1820s. William Hyde said: ‘I was well acquainted with the elder Smith; he often came to see me, and we had many long talks together.’ The father ‘told me of the stones his son Joseph had found, and by means of which he could see hidden treasures and many wonderful things.’”
“…in December of 1836 Smith’s father gave a patriarchal blessing to newly baptized Lorenzo Snow: ‘thy shadow shall restore the Sick; the diseased shall send to thee their aprons and handkerchiefs and by thy touch their owners may be made whole.’ The church patriarch’s blessing provided an LDS theological basis for the use of handkerchiefs for healing by the apostles in England during 1837. Aside from Apostle Wilford Woodruff’s healing handkerchief, the younger Joseph Smith gave a ‘blessed handkerchief’ for healing purposes to Newel Knight and another one to Caroline Skeen Butler in the 1840s. Heber C. Kimball proclaimed: “I have known Joseph, hundreds of times, [to] send his handkerchief to the sick, and they have been healed.’”
The funeral for Joseph Sr., was held on September 15th 1840, for which Elder Robert B. Thompson delivered the funeral sermon.
This is from the Dan Vogel HoC vol 4 pg 183:
“The occasion which has brought us together this day, is one of no ordinary importance: for not only has a single family to mourn and sorrow on account of the death of the individual, whose funeral obsequies we this day celebrate; but a whole society; yes, thousands will this day have to say, a Father in Israel is gone.
The Man whom we have been accustomed to look up to as a Patriarch, a Father and a Counselor, is no more an inhabitant of mortality; he has dropped his clay tenement, bid adieu to terrestrial scenes, and his spirit now free and unencumbered, roams and expatiates in that world where the spirits of just men made perfect dwell, and where pain, and sickness, tribulation and death cannot come…
But on this occasion, we realize that we have suffered more than an ordinary bereavement, and consequently we feel the more interested. If ever there was a man who had claims to the affections of the community, it was our beloved, but now deceased Patriarch. If ever there was an event calculated to raise the feelings of sorrow in the human breast, and cause us to drop the sympathetic tear, it certainly is the present; for truly we can say with the King of Israel, ‘A prince, and a great man has fallen in Israel.’ A man endeared to us by every feeling calculated to entwine around and adhere to the human heart, by almost indissoluble bonds. A man faithful to his God and to the church in every situation, and under all circumstances through which he was called to pass…
The instruction imparted by him will long be remembered by his numerous progeny, who will undoubtedly profit by the same, and strive to render themselves worthy of such a Sire; and that the whole church will copy his examples, walk in his footsteps, and emulate his faith, and virtuous actions, and commend themselves to his God and to their God…
Although his spirit has taken its flight, and his remains will soon mingle with their mother earth, yet his memory will long be cherished by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and will be fresh and blooming, when those of his enemies shall be blotted out from under heaven.
May we, beloved friends, who survive our venerable Patriarch, study to prosecute those things which were so dear to his aged heart, and pray that a double portion of his spirit may be bestowed on us, that we may be the humble instruments in aiding the consummation of the great work, which he saw so happily began; that when we have to stand before the bar of Christ, we may with our departed friend hear the welcome plaudit, ‘Come up hither ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: Amen.’”
Joseph Smith Sr. was an amazing individual in Mormon history. He was often a beloved member of nearly any society with which he engaged. He was eccentric, but to that eccentric attitude complimented a loving and folk-wise personality. I picture Joseph Sr. as one of those grizzled magic men who could always impart some nugget of wisdom in conversation, even if that wisdom was profoundly absurd or laughable to the person he was giving said wisdom. Even with his intemperance and character flaws, he was a worthy patriarch, not only of the Smith family, but of the entire magic-loving Mormon religion for all his days. But I feel like we’ve only seen him at an arm’s length for most of our timeline as a wacky and excitable guy who spent his time intoxicated trying to enchant guns at a turkey shoot or convince the treasure guardian spirits to relinquish their Spanish gold by sticking magic twigs in the ground in the shapes of magic sigils. Let’s get to know him a little bit through the eyes of the one person on earth who knew him more than anybody else.
Lucy Mack Smith’s biography of Joseph Smith, known as Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, recounts the entire scenario as Joseph Sr.’s life was coming to a close with the veil drawing ever nearer. If you’re listening to this in the Patreon exclusive feed, you’ll hear the entire chapter which talks about this, otherwise, you’re about to listen to the few important excerpts which puts a human face on Joseph Smith Sr. Beginning on page 264:
“During Joseph’s absence (due to Washington trip), Mr. Smith was at times very weak, and coughed dreadfully, so that some nights I had to lift him out of bed. On one occasion of this kind, he expressed a fear that he should die with me alone. I told him this would not be the case, for it was impressed upon my mind that, when he died, he would have his children around him. This comforted him much, for he was very anxious to live until Joseph should return, that he might bless him again before he should die…
Joseph, soon after his arrival, had a house built for us, near his own, and one that was more commodious than that which we previously occupied.
When the heat of the summer came on, my husband’s health began to decline more rapidly than before. This was perhaps caused, in part, by the renewal of the Missouri persecutions, for our sons were now demanded of the authorities of Illinois, as fugitives from justice. In consequence of which, they were compelled to absent themselves from the city, until the writs which were issued for their arrest, were returned.
About this time, John C. Bennett came in to the city, and undertook to devise a scheme whereby Joseph and Hyrum, besides other brethren who were persecuted in like manner, might remain at home in peace. I do not know what he did, I only know that he seemed to be engaged in the law, as well as the Gospel. My heart was then too full of anxiety about my husband, for me to inquire much into matters which I did not understand, however, the result was, Joseph returned from Iowa.
On the evening of his return, my husband commenced vomiting blood. I sent immediately for Joseph and Hyrum, who, as soon as they came, gave him something that alleviated his distress. This was on Saturday night. The next morning Joseph came in and told his father, that he should not be troubled any more for the present with the Missourians; “and,” said he, “I can now stay with you as much as you wish.” After which he informed his father, that it was then the privilege of the Saints to be baptized for the dead. These two facts Mr. Smith was delighted to hear, and requested, that Joseph should be baptized for Alvin immediately; and, as he expected to live but a short time desired that his children would stay with him, as much as they could consistently.”
Then Lucy recounts the deathbed blessings Big Daddy Cheese gave to his loved ones as they attended his bedside prior to his death.
“my husband next addressed himself to me:--
‘Mother, do you not know, that you are the mother of as great a family, as ever lived upon the earth. The world loves its own, but it does not love us. It hates us because we are not of the world; therefore, all their malice is poured out upon us, and they seek to take away our lives. When I look upon my children, and realize, that although they were raised up to do the Lord’s work, yet they must pass through scenes of trouble and affliction as long as they live upon the earth; and I dread to leave them surrounded by enemies.’
At this Hyrum bent over his father, and said:--‘Father, if you are taken away, will you not intercede for us at the throne of grace, that our enemies may not have so much power over us?’ He then laid his hands upon Hyrum’s head, and said:--
‘My son, Hyrum, I seal upon your head your patriarchal blessing, which I placed upon your head before, for that shall be verified. In addition to this, I now give you my dying blessing. You shall have a season of peace, so that you shall have sufficient rest to accomplish the work which God has given you to do. You shall be as firm as the pillars of heaven unto the end of your days. I now seal upon your head the patriarchal power, and you shall bless the people. This is my dying blessing upon your head in the name of Jesus. Amen.’
To Joseph he said:--
‘Joseph, my son, you are called to a high and holy calling. You are even called to do the work of the Lord. Hold out faithful, and you shall be blessed, and your children after you. You shall even live to finish your work.’ At this Joseph cried out, weeping, ‘Oh! My father, shall I.’ ‘Yes,’ said his father, ‘you shall live to lay out the plan of all the work which God has given you to do. This is my dying blessing on your head in the name of Jesus. I also confirm your former blessing upon your head; for it shall be fulfilled. Even so. Amen.’
To Samuel he said:--
‘Samuel, you have been a faithful and obedient son. By your faithfulness you have brought many into the Church. The Lord has seen your diligence, and you are blessed, in that he has never chastised you, but has called you home to rest; and there is a crown laid up for you, which shall grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
When the Lord called you, he said, ‘Samuel, I have seen they sufferings, have heard thy cries, and beheld thy faithfulness; thy skirts are clear from the blood of this generation.’ Because of these things, I seal upon your head all the blessings which I have heretofore pronounced upon you; and this my dying blessing, I now seal upon you. Even so. Amen.’
To William he said:--
‘William, my son, thou hast been faithful in declaring the word, even before the Church was organized. Thou hast been sick, yet thou hast travelled to warn the people. And when thou couldst not walk, thou didst sit by the way side, and call upon the Lord, until he provided a way for thee to be carried. Thou wast sick and afflicted, when thou wast away from thy father’s house, and no one knew it, to assist thee in thy afflictions; but the Lord did see the honesty of thine heart, and thou wast blessed in thy mission. William, thou shalt be blest, and thy voice shall be heard in distant lands, from place to place, and they shall regard thy teachings. Thou shalt be like a roaring lion in the forest, for they shall hearken and hear thee. And thou shalt be the means of bringing many sheaves to Zion, and thou shalt be great in the eyes of many, and they shall call thee blessed, and I will bless thee, and thy children after thee. And the blessings which I sealed upon thy head before, I now confirm again, and thy days shall be many, thou shalt do a great work, and live as long as thou desirest life. Even so. Amen.’
To Don Carlos he said:--
‘Carlos, my darling son, when I blessed you, your blessing was never written, and I could not get it done, but now I want you to get my book, which contains the blessings of my family. Take your pen and fill out all those parts of your blessing which were not written. You shall have the Spirit of the Lord, and be able to fill up all the vacancies which were left by Oliver when he wrote it. You shall be great in the sight of the Lord, for he sees and knows the integrity of your heart, and you shall be blessed; all that know you shall bless you. Your wife and your children shall also be blessed, and you shall live to fulfil all that the Lord has sent you to do. Even so. Amen.’
To Sophronia he said:--
‘Sophronia, my oldest daughter, thou hadst sickness when thou wast young, and thy parents did cry over thee, to have the Lord spare thy life. Thou didst see trouble and sorrow, but thy troubles shall be lessened, for thous hast been faithful in helping thy father and thy mother, in the work of the Lord. And thou shalt be blessed, and the blessings of heaven shall rest down upon thee. Thy last days shall be thy best. Although thou shalt see trouble, sorrow, and mourning, thou shalt be comforted, and the Lord will lift thee up, and bless thee and thy family, and thou shalt live as long as thou desirest life. This dying blessing I pronounce and seal upon thy head, with thine other blessings. Even so. Amen.
After this he rested some time, and then said:--
‘Catherine has been a sorrowful child, trouble has she seen, the Lord has looked down upon her and seen her patience, and has heard her cries. She shall be comforted when her days of sorrow are ended, then shall the Lord look down upon her, and she shall have the comforts of life, and the good things of this world, then shall she rise up, and defend her cause. She shall live to raise up her family; and in time her sufferings shall be over, for the day is coming when the patient shall receive their reward. Then she shall rise over her enemies, and shall have horses and land, and things round her to make her heart glad. I, in this dying blessing, confirm her patriarchal blessing upon her head, and she shall receive eternal life. Even so. Amen’
To Lucy he said:--
‘Lucy, thou art my youngest child, my darling. And the Lord gave thee unto us to be a comfort and a blessing to us in our old age, therefore, thou must take good care of thy mother. Thou art innocent, and thy heart is right before the Lord. Thou hast been with us through all the persecution; thou hast seen nothing but persecution, sickness, and trouble, except when the Lord hath cheered our hearts. If thou wilt continue faithful, thou shalt be blessed with a house and land; thou shalt have food and raiment, and no more be persecuted and driven, as thou hast hitherto been. Now continue faithful, and thou shalt live long and be blessed, and thou shalt receive a reward in heaven. This dying blessing, and also thy patriarchal blessing, I seal upon thy head in the name of Jesus. Even so. Amen.’
After this he spoke to me again, and said:--
‘Mother, do you not know, that you are one of the most singular women in the world?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I do not,’ ‘Well, I do,’ he continued, ‘you have brought up my children for me by the fireside, and, when I was gone from home, you comforted them. You have brought up all my children, and could always comfort them when I could not. We have often wished that we might both die at the same time, but you must not desire to die when I do, for you must stay to comfort the children when I am gone. So do not mourn, but try to be comforted. Your last days shall be your best days, as to being driven, for you shall have more power over your enemies than you have had. Again I say, be comforted.’
He then paused for some time, being exhausted. After which he said, in a tone of surprise, ‘I can see and hear, as well as I ever could.’ [A second pause of considerable length]. ‘I see Alvin.’ [Third pause] ‘I shall live seven or eight minutes.’ Then straightening himself, he laid his hands together; after which he began to breathe shorter, and, in about eight minutes, his breath stopped, without even a struggle or a sigh, and his spirit took its flight for the regions where the justified ones rest from their labours. He departed so calmly, that, for some time, we could not believe but that he would breathe again.”
Then, on page 270, Lucy concludes her thoughts and feelings of this time when Jo and Hyrum were actively running from the law and her other children were all attending about the busywork of day to day life in the young city of Commerce, soon to be designated Nauvoo.
“Catherine did not arrive until the evening of the second day; still we were compelled to attend to his obsequies the day after his decease, or run the risk of seeing Joseph and Hyrum torn from their father’s corpse before it was interred, and carried away by their enemies to prison. After we had deposited his last remains in their narrow house, my sons fled from the city, and I returned to my desolate home; and I then thought, that the greatest grief which it was possible for me to feel, had fallen upon me in the death of my beloved husband. Although that portion of my life, which lay before me, seemed to be a lonesome, trackless waste, yet I did not think that I could possibly find, in travelling over it, a sorrow more searching, or a calamity more dreadful, than the present.”
And thus, one small branch of our historical timeline withers and falls among the dross of the Mormon warpath leading towards exaltation. One of Joseph Smith’s primary mentors, to which he looked up for his entire upbringing, passed away and left the Smith family mourning in the wake. Joseph Sr. had not only influenced Jo from his earliest days, but he was a steady influence on the Mormon religion for the 10 years he’d been an integral piece to the movement. Joseph Sr. was a golden plate witness, one of the first to be baptized and confirmed on April 6th 1830, and always had his fingers in church affairs from that point forward.
It’s hard to empathize with people from so long ago who suffered through so much in their days. Lucy Mack buried a lot of her children and her own husband. She was a very strong woman to deal with so much turmoil after rearing such an incredible family. She would deal with a great many more sorrows from this time forward.
In a mere 4 years’ time, she would lose three sons in one month and the mantle which had been built up for the 14 years prior would be snatched away by a beastly, black-hearted priesthood led by the bloodiest of bloodhounds, Bloody Brigham Young himself.
The 1844 schism was complicated by the fact that Joseph Sr., during this deathbed blessing ceremony, had conferred upon Hyrum’s head the office of church patriarch, making him official second in command to Joseph Smith for the remaining 4 years until Carthage, but Hyrum didn’t pass the office to anybody before Carthage so that lineage of patriarchal authority was never passed to another through Hyrum’s hands.
It’s during this time when all was chaos and people were dying in droves in Illinois and Iowa that Bloody Brigham begins to become quite distinguished in his ability to run a religion. Just as the Whitmers had done in Missouri running the Mormon religion as almost a separate entity from the church in Ohio, Brigham was running the Mormon religion, with the help of the quorum of the Twelve, in England. His efforts to paint the religious landscape on the clean slate that was Europe, began to manifest as incredible success, sending a nearly constant stream of converts to the blooming city of Commerce.
But, Brigham was building the England Mormonism smarter than the Whitmers and Ollie Cowdery had done before. He didn’t want to be excommunicated for subverting Jo’s authority, so he was very careful in the organization to not step on Jo’s toes. This is a letter sent in June of 1840 to Jo and the brethren about the affairs surrounding the church in England, taken from the Dan Vogel HoC vol 4 pg 113
“Dear Brethren, you no doubt will have the perusal of this letter, and minutes of our Conferences; this will give you an idea of what we are doing in this country. If you see anything in, or about the whole affair, that is not right, I ask, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you would make known unto us the mind of the Lord, and his will concerning us. I believe that I am as willing to do the will of the Lord, and take counsel of my brethren, and be a servant of the church, as ever I was in my life; but I can tell you, I would like to be with my old friends; I like new friends, but I cannot part with my old ones for them…
I request one favor of you, that is a letter from you, that I may hear from my old friends. I trust that I will remain your friend through life, and in eternity; as ever.
From that same page, Brigham provides a tally of the Mormon converts in England since they arrived and began proselyting.
“The following is the aggregate number of churches, official and private members represented, at the above Conferences, held in Preston, England: Elders 36; Priests 54; Teachers 36; Deacons 11; members 1,686, all contained in 34 branches.
The High Council voted to meet at my office every Saturday at 2 in the afternoon.”
Bloody Brigham Young had essentially placed himself as the managing director of church affairs in England and the apostles would come to him with their problems. This was a very subtle shift, but it had profound psychological impacts which aren’t so easy to quantify. Brigham was slowly setting himself up as the answer man to these twelve apostles who would begin to turn to him more and more as issues would inevitably arise. Once such a pattern is in place and the apostles knew that Bloody Brigham could be trusted to solve their problems, he would increasingly gain their undying fealty to the Brighamite mantle, which was only in the foundation laying phase at this time.
Things weren’t exactly perfect for the apostles though. There were some things out of Brigham’s control, like people who’d heard of the Mormons and opposed them because they were a new Christianity in a land which was reaching critical mass with Christian revivals. Once the apostles got to London, they were met with significantly more opposition to their efforts than they had previously dealt with. This is recounted from Bloody Brigham’s writings, included in vol 4 of the Dan Vogel HoC starting with page 175:
“This day was the first public preaching of the gospel in the streets of London.
Elders Kimball, Woodruff, and Geo. A. Smith, after having spent ten days visiting the clergymen and preachers and others of the several denominations, asking the privilege of preaching in their chapels, and being continually refused by them in a contemptuous manner, they determined to preach in the open air, Jonah-like; and accordingly went to Smithfield Market (to the spot where John Rogers was burnt at the stake) for the purpose of preaching at 10 a.m., where they were notified by the Police that the Lord Mayor had issued orders prohibiting street preaching in the city. A Mr. [Henry] Conner stepped up and said, ‘I will show you a place outside of his jurisdiction,’ and guided them to Tabernacle Square, where they found an assembly of about 400 people listening to a preacher who was standing on a char. When he got through, another preacher arose to speak.—Elder Kimball stated to the first clergyman, ‘there is a man present from America who would like to preach’; which was granted; when Elder George A. Smith delivered a discourse of about 20 minutes, on the first principles of the gospel,…; after which Elder Kimball asked the preacher to give out another appointment at the same place for the American Elders to preach; when he jumped up and said, ‘I have just learned that the gentleman who has addressed you is a Latter Day Saint; I know them—they are a very bad people; they have split up many churches, and have done a great deal of hurt.’ He spoke all manner of evil, and gave the Latter Day Saints a very bad character, and commanded the people not to hear the elders, ‘as WE have got the gospel, and can save the people, without Infidelity, Socialism, or Latter Day Saints.’
Elder Kimball asked the privilege of standing on the chair to give out an appointment himself. The preacher said, ‘You shall not do it; YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to preach HERE’;--jerked the chair away from him, and ran away with it. Several of the crowd said, ‘You have as much right to preach here as he has, and give out your appointment;’ whereupon Elder Kimball gave out an appointment for 3 o’clock p.m.; at which time a large congregation was gathered.”
Things weren’t exactly perfect for the Mormons in England, but they were making significant headway to establishing stakes on the other side of the pond, an effort which had been met with meager results up to this point. Bloody Brigham was beginning to get his prophet legs during his time in Europe with the quorum. The skills he gleaned from this mission experience was invaluable training he would need in the very near future which would sustain him for the rest of his life, and turn him into one of the wealthiest people in all of 19th century America, resulting in one of the wealthiest religions in the world less than 2 centuries’ time.
MLM wrap up: Child sex abuse is a much bigger problem than Denver Snuffer.
Episode didn’t air
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