Salt Lake City, Novr 16th 1880.
Brother Lewis Harvey,
I had written to the Presidents of Quorums in the different settlements of Utah County and asked them to be so kind as to name the subject of some collections which I had talked with you about, of the Seventies in their localities.
I did not wish to lay any burthens upon you too heavy for you, and thought I would help it on with my voice and faith.
I think they have all had a hint which is sufficient for wise men, I wish to come to Battle Creek, as soon as my health will admit, and I can obtain clothing sufficiently warm to make it safe for me to travel.
My health is in some things very good; but in some things very poor, and I must govern myself by the laws of life and health, so far as I understand, and my understanding of them is very imperfect at the best.
When I look back about 50 years ago; or a little more perhaps; say fifty two years; I heard something of a Golden Bible. It was a strange thing in those days of scarcity for great events; more so perhaps, than it would be now-a-days, when so many marvelous things are transpiring. And notwithstanding the violent opposition that was arrayed against it; there was a secret influence that came with a still small voice on the wings of the winds; in the storms and the tempests; in the clouds; in the sunshine and silent night; in dreams and visions of those things, which since have transpired, of which I have not the least occasion to doubt; but I had not yet conceived what this strange development could mean. I did not dare to ask any one their minds on the subject. But hearing them express themselves concerning the matter, taught me they were as ignorant as myself of its true character. What then did I do? I followed along in the old way, (or Methodist order,) for two long long years. After which when I had witnessed many of the visions, I referred to; I left the Province of Upper Canada, with Brother Brigham and travelled one hundred miles, and arrived at my father’s house in Mendon, Monroe County, State of [p.2] New York and there tarried a few days. From thence I travelled one hundred miles more to the State of Pennsylvania; where I was baptized, on the 6th Day of April, 1832. Six months after, three of us, my brother Brigham, Heber C. Kimball and myself visited Kirtland, Ohio; to witness the sight of a Prophet of the Lord; having read of such men or characters; but to see one, and to hear him talk was worth travelling two hundred miles for, to realize such a blessing.
Well; how did I expect to find him? a short, or a tall man? or a lank, or a slender man? What was the physical status, I had formed in my own mind when I found and met a man sent from heaven with a message of love to poor fallen man? I had formed no particular idea of him in these respects prior to my interview. But as to the moral and spiritual condition I must confess. I had pictured out something perhaps, in my own mind, which, when I first saw him, did not fill my programme. I expected at least, I should find him in his sanctum dispensing spiritual blessings, and giving directions how to build the Zion of God on the earth. But the temporal part, I seemed to over look. Well, we enquired for Kirtland, and found the house of the prophet, and we enquired for him. We were informed, that he was chopping firewood half a mile from home. Here I was taken down still a little lower. We repaired to the woods and found the young man, Joseph the Prophet, with a number of his brothers. We introduced ourselves, as visitors to see and converse with him, as we had come a long way for that purpose.
To these remarks he made the following short reply. “Brethren, I am glad to see you.” At this he threw down his ax; and said, “boys, take care of my ax.” And we went with him to his house. He introduced us to his wife Emma; who was in bed with the infant, Joseph, her firstborn. This was in November, 1832. We tarried there seven days; and then took leave of the man that could reveal the hidden things and the mysteries of the kingdom of God, as no other man ever did before.
About five months subsequent to this period, the Prophet Joseph came to the State of New York. I met him in the town of Lima, Livingston County. He recognized, and hailed me before we had met. He exclaimed, “There’s brother Joseph Young.” We shook hands. I said, “Br Joseph, I want to talk with you.” [p.3] Said he, “let us go to that barn;” and, we accordingly went and climbed up into the loft, and sat down upon the hay. He said to me, “Br Joseph Young,” Br. ________ will go down to hell until the day of redemption.” [Note: Name omitted in original.] I said to him, Brother Joseph, you astonish me.” “Well,” he said, “it is true, for he has always put himself in my way, and wishes to supplant me and take this work out of my hands; but the Lord will not suffer him to do it.” He then expatiated at some length upon his “present mission; which was to gather up the strength of the Lord’s house, to go up to redeem Zion; or, replace the Saints in Jackson County. He hinted to me a wish that I should go in that company. He did not however urge me. Br Brigham had moved to Kirtland the year before.
This was the second time I had seen the Prophet. My convictions of the truth of his mission had not diminished in the least. I resolved if an opportunity was presented to go up to Kirtland, Ohio, where this company was rallying to go to Missouri. It was not long before the opportunity presented itself, and I improved it. One of the brethren came along with his team and carriage, and offered me a seat. I took leave of my newly married wife, and we went on our way rejoicing to the land of Kirtland, where we arrived in safety. We met and greeted our friends in that place, and saw the Prophet for the third time.
He again invited me to go to the Camp of Zion more pressingly, having Brigham’s influence with him, urging me to go. The Prophet finally said to me, “Brother Joseph, if you will go with Brother Brigham and me up to Missouri, and will keep my counsel, both you and Brother Brigham, I promise you in the name of the Lord, that I will lead you there and back again, and there shall not a hair of your head fall.” We both shook hands with him upon that covenant; we performed our vow and kept his counsel.
We joined the camp and journeyed into Missouri and arrived March 12th 1838. When we arrived in Liberty, the cholera broke in upon us, and some scores of the brethren were prostrated with it. It was however light on some, but heavy on others. About twenty cases proved fatal. All I believe felt its symptoms without exception. It attacked me a number of times; but not so radically as to prostrate me; for Joseph’s promise would occur to me, and my faith was so strong, that all the symptoms would leave me.
Br Lewis Harvey, perhaps this little scrap of history has wearied you to peruse it. But there are some keys in this, and in what I shall give you still further, that will unlock secrets worth knowing.
Thursday, Novr 18th 1880.
Br Lewis Harvey,
It injures my head to write, consequently, I employ my amanuences or scribe to write for me, Br Robert Campbell, and I here resume the story where I left off.
In my published pamphlet, I have referred to the ordination and organization of the Seventies by the Prophet Joseph, after our return from Missouri. I will add a little to what I there published.
The Prophet referring to the organization and ordinations of the Seventies which he had in contemplation, addressing himself to Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery, who were then his acting Councillors; said he, “I promised these brethren that went to Missouri in Zion’s Camp, that when they returned, that I would ordain them to the Priesthood that the Lord had conferred upon us.” He did not then say what that Priesthood was, but he meant no doubt the Apostleship. I name this as a matter of history and let it pass for what it is worth.
The hands of those three men I recollect distinctly were placed upon my head. Sidney Rigdon was the mouth in my ordination. I will repeat his words as near as I can recollect. Calling me by name, he said, “We lay our hands on your head and ordain you one of the Seventies, or special witnesses and confer upon you all the authority that the Lord has placed upon us; and we not only ordain you a Seventy; but we also ordain you a President of the Seventies.”
I will now refer to the Kirtland Temple. It was at this time February, 1835, up to the square and the roof was being placed thereon, and the work of completion was continued some eight or nine months until the next November, when it was ready to receive the windows, which were prepared and placed in the building by the hands of Brigham and Joseph Young. The following April it was dedicated.
The Prophet Joseph declared that Kirtland would be one of the principle Stakes of Zion. The Saints at this time were very poor. Many of the Elders had been absent on missions, on which they had spent a great proportion of their time. Their families in their absence had consumed their substance and money was very scarce.
The Prophet had conceived a plan of instituting a bank with a view of relieving their financial embarrassments; all the saints believing that it was based upon a sound footing, and was favored by the Lord. This was a stumbling-block as it turned out to many; but it ranked pretty well with the failure of redeeming Zion; as neither of them was successful as people generally construed it. Even the Saints themselves, looked upon it disfavor. Their remarks upon this subject, showed that they could not, or did not understand, that the Lord had a hand in these things and they had not eyes to see his providence. Some few of the Saints even accused the Prophet in these matters and their murmurings brought chastisement upon them. They were left in the dark; hence, they strayed away and lost their faith.
In narrating these things, there are some incidents or keys that challenge explanation and requires explanation to bring them out to the surface, and remove all the stumbling blocks from the understandings of the faithful Saints. To give these would take more time and space, than I can spare in this brief recital at this time. But I would say, in a word, that experience brings wisdom, and that will help one to master these intricicies without strangling. When I make you a visit at Battle Creek, we will give our minds scope in the right direction, to comprehend through the Spirit of the Lord these mysteries.
I will refer once more to the statement of the Prophet Joseph, in regard to the Stake at Kirtland, and repeat what he said, “that it would be one of the principle ones in Zion; and he said further, “that the faithful Saints who then occupied it, should be among the chief ones, and its inhabitants should be the posterity the [p.6] of those now composing that City. I heard Brother Brigham make similar statements.
Hence the many efforts that many have made to obtain by legal process, possession of that Temple; but as far as I can learn, the title of that property seems to be somewhat mixed. I am confirmed in these statements from what has transpired when we lived in Kirtland, after the bank was established.
When the bank first began to issue its currency, Br Joseph the Prophet proposed to Br Brigham and Br Hyrum Smith, that they should commence buying farms. The first one that was purchased, was from a Mr. Stannard, a farmer who lived on the edge of the town of Chester. This purchase was made by Joseph and Brigham the Prophet paid over to this Mr. Stannard $2000 00/100 from the bank, and they gave a mortgage and their notes for semi-annual payments, until all the purchase money was paid over. They took possession of the premises and all the personal property thereon, such as horses and colts, cows and calves; work-oxen and farming utensils; hay and grain that was in the barn. This showed that the Prophet Joseph was in earnest. His labors were constant and indefatigable. His motives were unquestionably pure and unyielding to any adverse pressure, and thus far he was successful.
This precedent was followed by many of his brethren and friends, who made purchases of property round about Kirtland and the adjoining towns. Brigham and Hyrum made a number of purchases after this took place; As also the Prophet’s brother Samuel, who purchased a farm in Mentor. He also paid $2000.00 for it from the bank, This was followed up by a good many purchases by the brethren who lived in Kirtland.
I have neither time nor space to follow out this little thread of history at present.
Kindly and respectfully
Jos. Young Senr.
P.S. I wish you to respond to this when you have perused it and say you have received it. I have not sent you this for criticism, but for you to peruse.