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THE situation at the opening of the year 1880 was quite well expressed in an editorial in Saints' Herald for January 1, reading as follows:
In beginning the present volume of the Herald, we do so with a degree of pleasure that we do not often experience.
The long pressure of doubt and uncertainty respecting the business interests of the country which necessarily affected the Saints' the Herald, and the general work, has been gradually, but surely removing. The upward turn of the wave has begun; and unless something unforeseen occurs to destroy the fair hopes of the sanguine, the period of prosperity will for a time continue. . . .
The spiritual condition of the church has been improving. It should have been no wonder that in the outset of the Reorganization, and for some years after, if the effort was to continue so long, there should be a reign of unsettled spirituality; that men, and women too, should unite with the church who would not endure unto the end; who would be "lovers of pleasure," and would in the service of self drift into unregenerate habits again from which they had once been made free. Many such have been eliminated, and now the spiritual atmosphere is growing clearer. The fresh, invigorating impulses of the Spirit are at work-not in isolated places, as at the first, but generally, in all the places where
the gospel has been taken and where there have been converts made. Further than all this, there were many of the old-time Saints, that in the "dark and cloudy day" had gathered unto themselves some idiosyncrasies of character and doctrine, which seemed to them to be regular and proper according to the word as delivered to them, but which after years of wear and tear proved fallacious, or unimportant; and these have had to be assimilated, or absorbed with the whole lump of the law; or the Saints freed from them. This was a work of time. But time has been lending a plastic hand to the effort, and an increased activity and a greater degree of strength have been developed-we have been growing, and from the appearance all round the religious horizon just in time to be ready for the higher position before us as a people.
Pleasant news from London, England, brings the assurance that there, also, the work has assumed proportions of greater stability. The unwavering fidelity of those upon whom the burden has been resting for the past few years; the unflinching persistence with which the elders have maintained the standard truths of Mormonism proper, have at length begun to tell upon the world. The natural result has followed, the men stand more firmly than ever; the principles of the faith are made more honorable, and dearer to them and more bearable and attractive to others.
The church in Utah, now the only opposing element of the church (Mormon) militant that the Reorganization has to contend with, and before which we have stood in warlike attitude for years, must soon face the issues we have raised against her, whether she will or will not. Those issues are being plainly set forth by the elders whom we have sent to Utah, and are receiving the notice of those within and without. It will soon come that we can not be safely ignored; that passive, "masterly inactivity," sometimes good strategy will not avail against the truths we are pushing forward, they must and will be heard.
The work in the Canadas is likely to revive under the administration of Bro. W. R. Kelley and his coworkers; while in the United States at large it is doing well. In every State where the elders have been laboring there is manifest a great desire to hear. In the south and southeast Brn. H. C. Smith, J. H. Hansen, J. W. Bryan, and D. H. Bays have set the foundations of the work, in the old and in many new places, and the spirit of inquiry there is also ripe.
There is a far better understanding between the different corps of workers than heretofore existed, and much that was vexing has been solved, or so near an approximation reached that the intermediate barriers do not separate. But we cannot yet say, "All is well in Zion." . . .
The turmoil of the elements, the rapid changes in public sentiment, the unrest and disquiet in political circles, the strange and universal shaking of thrones and powers are all of them striking tokens indicating that the times of trouble before the end are at hand; and besides this, that the era when events rapidly succeeding each other everywhere indicating the
universality with which the light and truth of freedom are spreading, is also upon us-not at the doors-but actually upon us. These enable us to see, that the divine purpose of God as announced in the closing sentences of the "Revelation to Moses," found in the opening of the Inspired Translation, to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," has not been forgotten; and that in every nation "he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." How grandly then looms up the work of God-not a narrow and sectarian work-but a widely reaching work of redemption worthy of God and godlike men. In this spirit do we salute the Saints. . . .
The next issue of the Herald contained an editorial on persecution from which we quote for the sake of the opinions it contains regarding issues of the past and present:
Why does not the Reorganization suffer persecution?
This is a question just now troubling our Utah friends. A writer in a Salt Lake Herald, states with quite an air of triumphant assertion that these Josephite elders can dress well, sleep well, and be cared for well, and go here and there preaching at will, and without persecution. In this writer's mind the absence of persecution renders the Reorganization untrue. Others have expressed a similar thought. . . .
We, of the Reorganization, are seeking the blessing promised right there, "If by purchase, then are ye blessed." Not in our courts resounds the tread of armed men; not upon our sacred roll of spiritual authorities is found the titles of the sword; not upon our patriarchs, priests, and elders do we confer the badges and insignia of military distinction and renown; not in our council meetings do the ring of the scabbard, and the dull thud of the carbine and the rifle mark the men who are holding aloft the ensign of Peace; not in the hearts, nor on the faces of the elders, does the war spirit kindle ablaze at the sound of the trumpet and the drum; for unto them does the solemn march of time signify the coming of the Monarch of the earth; who, in the habiliments of Peace, will, by his Spirit, subdue the evil and the wrong.
If it may be truthfully said of the Reorganization that they are permitted to abide in peace, while they are trying to build up Zion and establish the pure in heart, it is significant; and its significance is found in the fact that it is teaching the principles of Mormonism as they were taught in the days when the church was prospered; in addition to which, they have adopted the principle of purchase, with its concurrent accessories, in place of the redemption-by-blood theory. In this they have been blessed indeed; and therefore, we are not disturbed that we are not persecuted. For those who were to do the final work for the gathering of the honest in heart, were to find favor in the eyes of the people; and the Lord was to give them this grace and favor. What, therefore, the Lord giveth, as grateful recipients we shall lift our eyes to heaven and say,
Glory, honor, and dominion be to him who ruleth on high, for ever, and for ever. . . .
But, in some localities, many of them, these same Josephite elders, are in danger of their lives being taken; their reputations are blackened, their liberty of speech denied to them; threats are made and overt acts of violence offered,-the alleged reason for which is, that they are of the same faith and practices as are the Brighamites, by reason of which the "way of truth is evil spoken of." Let these Brighamite elders throw down their weapons of rebellion, cease to teach and to practice that which the Josephites war against as improper and evil in the children of Zion, return to the religion and holy practice of the church in its early prosperity; and they too may go "here and there" preaching where they will, making friends for themselves and the Master's cause everywhere they go. Let them do this, and like doves to their windows, shall the weary and worn "come to Zion with songs of rejoicing upon their heads;" and in their hearts the peace that passeth understanding.
The places where the Latter Day Saints of the Reorganization dwell, as a rule, accord to them the meed of fearless, unflinching steadfastness in the declaration of their views and doctrines. Their religious cotemporaries [contemporaries] give place to them only as they win their right to recognition and consideration. Many of the clergymen of the popular denominations regard them as heretics, of a bad type, whose influence and teaching are destructive of the interests of the Christian church, so called; and so only tolerate them with a sneer, or a frown. But the people, the thinking and investigating, liberty loving people, the "common people" give place and a hearing to them; and in spite of ostracism, in spite of the opprobrium wrong-doers and unfaithful shepherds have brought upon the flock of God, these ("Josephite elders") elders of the Reorganization, ministers for Christ are pushing the cross victoriously forward. They will continue to do so, we trust, in honor; for, while they shall do so, the bulwarks of truth are round about them, and they shall continue to prosper; but, if they shall be lured from the standard and ensign of Peace, by the spirit of war, "that which maketh desolate," the enticements of the flesh, or the love of self-aggrandizement, the history of the past warns them that they, too, shall be driven from the land where they now hope to receive their inheritances, and be "scourged from city to city and from synagogue to synagogue."
Brethren, Saints of the Reorganization, stand firmly in this peaceful spirit of purchase and redemption; and the sweet songs of Zion's messengers with her redeemed children, shall soon resound from the "rivers" that traverse the centers of "Joseph's land," unto the "ends of the earth." And he who carries in his hands the "law" that is to "go forth from Zion," shall find that to be a talisman before whose touch the walls of spiritual Babylon shall crumble to dust; and they who will not flee from out those crumbling ruins shall be overwhelmed in the fall thereof. We stand in striking contrast to our contemporaries in the salt land; for
while the sectarians denounce and oppose us as seditious heretics, ignorant, unlearned, and presumptuous, they gladly see and help to push us into the breach to defend Christian truth against error and infidelity, as they class unbelief; though they denounce us as allied to those of the salt land by reason of a supposed common origin; these salt land Saints scout us as heretics, apostates, recreant and sectarian, by reason of our persistent warfare against what we believe to have been improperly and unlawfully added to the faith of the Church of Christ by them. Refusing to hold converse, or discussion with us, because they so hold us apostate, they still are glad to class us with the sectarians and as those who are not "persecuted." That is a strange position in which men may be placed wherein there is no compensating, or alleviating conditions; hence in this labyrinth of dilemmas in which it may be supposed by these who say we are not persecuted, that they have placed us, and where they would fain believe that we are, there is this alleviating circumstance: the Lord said that he would bless a people who should do as we are striving to do; and the very blessing that he declared he would bless them with, these men arouse us of having; therefore, we must be the people he referred to.
About this time Acting Secretary Bell, of the department of the interior, rendered a decision which had an important effect on the polygamists of Utah. They had been taking advantage of the fact that plural wives were not recognized under the law as wives and each woman thus related who desired had been entering government land in her own name, thus giving the husband control of as many homesteads as he had wives. The decision of the department was to the effect that this would not be permitted.
In January, 1880, President Joseph Smith preached four times in Carthage, Illinois. As this is the place where his father and uncle met their death at the hands of a desperate and law-defying element of society a little more than thirty-five years before, it will be interesting to read how he was received. We therefore insert comments from the local press. The Republican, published by J. M. Davidson, in the issue for January 21, 1880, contains the following:
Elder Joseph Smith, son and successor of the founder of the Mormon church, delivered a series of discourses at the court-house in this city, commencing on Friday evening and closing on Sunday evening. He had good audiences throughout, that gave him a respectful hearing. His discourses were chiefly directed to an explanation and defense of the tenets of the Reorganized Mormon Church. His Sunday night's discourse
was directed to a defense of the Mormon Bible against sundry charges made as concerning its authenticity and the character of its teachings. Mr. Smith is a man of unaffected manners and quite pleasing address. He has evidently greatly improved as a public speaker since leaving Hancock County. While here he received the courteous treatment characteristic of our citizens and expressed his thanks therefor in fitting terms.
The Gazette of the same date, Thomas C. Sharp, editor and publisher, contained the following:
The lectures of Elder Joseph Smith, of the Reorganized Mormon Church, at the court-house, on Friday and Saturday evenings, and on Sunday morning and evening, were attended by crowded audiences. We were not present at any of the lectures, but learn from those who were, that there was nothing said, at which any person could take offense. He simply argued religious questions from a Mormon standpoint, but repudiated polygamy. Mr. Smith has the reputation of being a gentleman and a good citizen, and received from our people the courteous treatment which every such man, irrespective of his religious views, is entitled to.
It will, perhaps, be remembered that Thomas C. Sharp was the editor of the Warsaw Signal during the perilous times of the church in Nauvoo. This paper was one of the chief agitators, and contributed largely to the peril of the situation. He was also supposed to be one of the active participants in the assassination and was indicted and tried with others for the crime.
On January 20 Elder B. V. Springer wrote an interesting letter from Moorfield, Indiana, closing with the following strong testimony:
In conclusion, I have this to say to all interested, that I am now on the downhill side of life, all the best years of manhood have been given to preaching this glorious gospel of truth. My earthly substance has melted away; meantime, I have no foot of earth to call my own, discarded by relatives, scoffed at by the self-righteous meteors; have drank the cup of sorrow to its very dregs, yet I feel "Nearer my God to thee." Thou hast not, nor will not forsake me. And while I have powers of body and mind, while reason retains her throne, I will by God's help continue to ring into the ears of this generation my testimony of the truth of the gospel as restored in this dispensation; that the divinity of the calling of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are inseparably connected with the restoration of the gospel, and indispensably necessary to its completeness in the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Therefore, with the pure testimony in the Spirit of the
Master, and booked by the faith and prayers of the dear Saints who know me best, I go satchel in hand, again to face the world, the flesh and the devil, singing as I go, "Babylon trembles for fear of her loss," and
When death gives intimation
That my last hour is nigh,
With placid resignation,
I'll lay me down to die;
Fond hope my bosom cheering,
That on fair Zion's shore
I'll meet with all earth's loved ones,
Where parting is no more.
-The Saints' Herald, vol. 27, p. 69.
On January 21, 1880, Elder Frank Reynolds, secretary of the Quorum of Seventy, died at his residence, 189 Campbell Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
On January 22, 1880, Elder James Caffall wrote from Hutchison, Colorado, that a hall had been permanently rented in Denver, Colorado, and the work opened there the Sunday previous.
On January 26 and 27 a discussion was held in Poweshiek County, Iowa, between Reverend S. H. Hendrix, of the Christian Church, and Elder I. N. White. The results were said to have been gratifying to the Saints. Commencing January 27 a debate was held at Maple Valley, Iowa, between Elder J. Bartlett, of the Seventh-day Adventists, and Elder D. H. Bays.
January 29, a branch of the church, to be known as the Butte Branch, was organized at Butte City, Montana, by Elder E. C. Brand. Edward Bowen president, and chosen to act as clerk pro tem.
February 15, Elder R. M. Elvin organized the Clear Creek Branch at Clear Creek, Nebraska.
Commencing February 17, a debate was held at Rock Creek, Illinois, between the Reverend Joshua Dunham, United Brethren, and Elder J. A. Crawford. A debate was held somewhere in Michigan on February 21, 1880, between a Mr. James Mohan, of the Catholic Church, and Elder J. J. Cornish. The Douay translation of the Bible was agreed upon as the standard of evidence.
On February 23, 1880, it was decided in the Court of Common Pleas, Lake County, Ohio, L. S. Sherman, judge, that the title of the Kirtland Temple was in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The following is a copy of the findings:
In Court of Common Pleas, Lake County, Ohio, February 23, 1880. Present: Honorable L. S. Sherman, judge; F. Paine, Jr., clerk; and C. P. Morley, sheriff .
Journal Entry, February Term, 1880.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: Plaintiff .
Lucien Williams, Joseph Smith, Sarah F. Videon, Mark H. Forscutt, the church in Utah of which John Taylor is president and commonly known as the Mormon Church, and John Taylor, president of said Utah church: Defendants.
Now at this term of the court came the plaintiff by its attorneys, E. L. Kelley, and Burrows and Bosworth, and the defendants came not, but made default; and thereupon with the assent of the Court, and on motion and by the consent of the plaintiff a trial by jury is waived and this cause is submitted to the Court for trial, and the cause came on for trial to the Court upon the pleadings and evidence, and was argued by counsel; on consideration whereof, the Court do find as matters of fact:
(1st). That notice was given to the defendants in this action by publication of notice as required by the statutes of the state of Ohio; except as to the defendant, Sarah F. Videon, who was personally served with process.
(2d). That there was organized on the 6th day of April, 1830, at Palmyra, in the state of New York, by Joseph Smith, a religious society, under the name of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," which in the same year removed in a body and located in Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio; which said church held and believed, and was founded upon certain well defined doctrines, which were set forth in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and book of Doctrine and Covenants.
(3d). That on the 11th day of February, A. D. 1841, one William Marks and his wife, Rosannah, by warranty deed, of that date, conveyed to said Joseph Smith as sole trustee-in-trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, being the same church organized as aforesaid, the lands and tenements described in the petition, and which are described as follows:
[The description of the land is omitted.-EDS.]
And upon said lands said church had erected a church edifice known as the Temple, and were then in the possession and occupancy thereof for religious purposes, and so continued until the disorganization of said church, which occurred about 1844. That the main body of said religious society had removed from Kirtland aforesaid, and were located at Nauvoo,
Illinois, in 1844, when said Joseph Smith died, and said church was disorganized and the membership (then being estimated at about 100,000) scattered in smaller fragments, each claiming to be the original and true church before named, and located in different States and places.
That one of said fragments, estimated at ten thousand, removed to the territory of Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young, and located there, and with accessions since, now constitute the church in Utah, under the leadership and presidency of John Taylor, and is named as one of the defendants in this action.
That after the departure of said fragment of said church for Utah, a large number of the officials and membership of the original church which was disorganized at Nauvoo, reorganized under the name of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and on the 5th day of February, 1873, became incorporated under the laws of the state of Illinois, and since that time all other fragments of said original church (except the one in Utah) have dissolved, and the membership has largely become incorporated with said Reorganized Church which is the plaintiff in this action.
That the said plaintiff, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is a religious society, founded and organized upon the same doctrines and tenets, and having the same church organization, as the original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, organized in 1830, by Joseph Smith, and was organized pursuant to the constitution, laws and usages of said original church, and has branches located in Illinois, Ohio, and other States.
That the church in Utah, the defendant of which John Taylor is president, has materially and largely departed from the faith, doctrines, laws, ordinances, and usages of said original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and has incorporated into its system of faith the doctrines of celestial marriage and a plurality of wives, and the doctrine of Adam-god worship, contrary to the laws and constitution of said original church.
And the Court do further find that the plaintiff, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is the true and lawful continuation of, and successor to the said original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, organized in 1830, and is entitled in law to all its rights and property.
And the Court do further find that said defendants, Joseph Smith, Sarah F. Videon, and Mark H. Forscutt, are in possession of said property under a pretended title, derived from a pretended sale thereof, made by order of the probate court of Lake County, on the petition of Henry Holcomb, as the administrator of said Joseph Smith, as the individual property of said Smith; and the Court finds that said Smith had no title to said property, except as the trustee of said church, and that no title thereto passed to the purchasers at said sale, and that said parties in possession have no legal title to said property.
And the Court further finds that the legal title to said property is
vested in the heirs of said Joseph Smith, in trust for the legal successor of said original church, and that the plaintiffs are not in possession thereof.
Joseph Smith and Mark Forscutt, leading ministers of the church, were named as defendants, because some years before Mr. Russell Huntley, who had acquired some kind of title, had held possession for a time and made extensive repairs, deeded the property to them, and it was thought best to get judgment against every one having shadow of title. They of course made no attempt to defend their title.
This decision and the subsequent occupation and repairing of the Temple gave the church considerable prestige in that country and elsewhere.
March 1 to 3, 1880, there was a debate held in Clay County, Kansas, between Reverend Cyrus Johnson, Congregationalist, and Elder J. D. Bennett. The proposition was so peculiar that we record it as a polemic curiosity. It read as follows: "Resolved, That Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint sect, was not a true Prophet and Saint, but an imposter [impostor], polygamist, and thief, and that his immediate followers were no better than himself."
A three-day debate, commencing March 10, was held at Rock Creek, Illinois, between Professor F. Palmer, infidel, and Elder J. A. Crawford.
The Bishop's financial report for the three months ending March 31, 1880, showed receipts, including balance on hand at last report, $2,235.84; expenditures, $1,003.10; leaving balance due the church, $1,232.74.
The following statement regarding favorable changes in Utah was published in the Saints' Advocate for April:
A decided change for the better has taken place in Utah during the last ten years, and notably so under the administration of President J. Taylor, in respect to the moral and doctrinal tone and matter of the sermons preached by the ministry of the Utah Mormons, and still there is great room for improvement.
We also note with pleasure, a striking change for the better in all the social and business relations of the Utah Mormons towards others. Their actions seem to say they think "apostate" and Gentiles have some rights which they are bound to respect. Let this good work go on, and let every "root of bitterness be plucked up."
Commencing April 6, a debate was held at Clear Creek, Nebraska, between Reverend D. R. Dungan, of the Christian Church, and Elder R. M. Elvin.
The annual General Conference of the church for 1880 convened at Plano, Illinois, on April 6, and continued in session nine days; Presidents Joseph Smith and W. W. Blair, presiding; H. A. Stebbins, secretary, and John Scott, assistant. The following business of a general character was transacted:
The following ministers present at the conference reported labor in the following territory: W. W. Blair, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho; J. R. Lambert, Northern Iowa; J. H. Lake, Iowa and Minnesota; W. H. Kelley, Michigan, Indiana, Canada, and Ohio; M. H. Forscutt, Chicago and Northern Illinois; C. G. Lanphear, Iowa and Illinois; J. S. Patterson, Northern Illinois; R. C. Elvin, Nebraska; F. C. Warnky, Colorado and Missouri; E. C. Brand, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Montana; J. F. McDowell, Northern Illinois and Southwestern Ohio; W. T. Bozarth, Missouri; G. T. Griffiths, Missouri; Heman C. Smith, Southeastern States; M. T. Short, Kansas and Missouri; B. V. Springer, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky; A. J. Cato and H. L. Thompson, Texas; J. A. Crawford, Illinois and Missouri; G. S. Yerrington, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts; Columbus Scott, Michigan and Canada; Jobe Brown, Iowa and Illinois; C. A. Wickes, Michigan and Illinois; G. F. Weston, Indiana and Illinois; Rudolph Etzenhouser, Missouri.
The following ministers not present reported labor done in places, as follows: Z. H. Gurley, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri; T. W. Smith, Eastern States; James Caffall, Nebraska and Colorado; A. H. Smith, Iowa and Missouri; Charles Derry, Utah; S. S. Wilcox, Iowa; R. J. Anthony, Utah and Idaho; T. J. Phillips, Missouri; T. E. Jenkins, Thomas Taylor, British Isles; J. R. Gibbs, Wales; Peter N. Brix, Denmark; James W. Gillen, Australia; Robert Davis, Michigan; John H. Hansen, Southeastern States; John C. Foss, Maine; Isaac N. Roberts, Kansas; J. Frank Mintun,
Western Iowa; C. N. Brown, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York; J. W. Bryan, Texas; Joseph Luff, Missouri, Kansas, and Utah; G. E. Deuel, Utah; R. M. Elvin, Iowa and Nebraska; J. J. Cornish, Michigan; John Eames, Wyoming; James Kemp, Colorado; O. E. Cleaveland, Virginia; J. Lamoreaux, Ohio; and Robert Fuller, Ohio.
The church recorder reported a net gain in membership of six hundred fifty-one. The librarian reported four hundred three volumes in library.
Elder M. H. Forscutt, "musical editor," reported his readiness to furnish music for "The Harmony" when called for.
Board of Publication reported total receipts, $6,113.64; total expenditure, $5,755.41; leaving balance on hand of $358.23.
On the 8th a telegram was received from the Pacific Slope Mission conference, that the conference had divided the mission into four parts, as follows: Oregon, Nevada, Northern California, and Southern California. This action was indorsed [endorsed] by the General Conference and a message returned to that effect.
The following document was received from Elder J. W. Briggs and read:
Again, and I trust for the last time, I am impelled to ask at your hand redress for wrong inflicted upon me by the late semiannual conference of September, 1879.
The facts connected with the said act complained of I will briefly recite:
At the semiannual conference of September, 1878, certain charges were made against me of teaching contrary to the belief of the church, and an order made by said conference that the First Presidency appoint a court to adjudicate the case. To this I demurred, and gave my reasons to the annual conference of April 6, 1879, and demanded, as a right, to be heard before the Quorum of the Twelve in their capacity of a presiding high council. This was ordered by said annual conference, fixing the time for such investigation during the sitting of the next semiannual conference of September, 1879, at which time the quorum met, and the case was called, though the quorum declined to organize as such high council, or to be governed by the rules applicable to a high council. This was in contravention of my request, and the order of the said annual conference; and was so far, I think, a grave error, which entitled their findings to the character of a report only, and not a decision.
To that report and to the action of the said semiannual conference I now call your attention. The quorum report upon all the charges investigated, save one, either "not sustained" or find something not charged, which is equivalent, hence I regard these disposed of.
The remaining one on the gathering, they report as follows: "We find that the brother does not believe there is any place of gathering as pertains to this church, and holds that there is no command, now in force, requiring a gathering either into what is called the regions round about or to a local Zion or to a stake. He refers to the revelation of 1841, paragraph 15, as defining his position."
This finding is correct; but whether so holding is antagonistic to the view generally held by the church (as affirmed) we will now inquire:
At the first conference of the Reorganized Church, held in the town of Beloit, Wisconsin, June 12 to 13, 1852, the following was resolved: "That, in the opinion of this conference, there is no stake to which the Saints on this continent are commanded to gather at the present time.'-Word of Consolation, page 2. As the author of this resolution I declare the intention to mean by the phrase "no stake," no place, and it was so understood; and at the annual conference of 1863 this same resolution was affirmed, and again at the annual conference of 1876. Here are three several declarations of general conferences that there is no place to which the Saints are commanded to gather.
Further, in the report of the Quorum of the Twelve in April, 1878, upon the charge they say: "And it (the church) particularly declared in 1876 at the annual conference that there is now no place to which we are commanded to gather, and we consider the position of Bro. Briggs in apparent harmony with these positions," etc.
Further, It is taught in Herald by a member of the First Presidency, (see Herald of September 1, 1876), that there is not only now no law requiring a gathering, but that it is not "permitted." In the same article the same construction is put upon paragraph 15 of the revelation of 1831; viz., that the church was exonerated from that work.
In the face of these facts and utterances on the part of the church and its chief quorums, the Twelve report that the charge on "gathering is sustained," which implies that there is a place of gathering and a command now in force requiring it; thus contradicting themselves and all the utterances of the church on that point.
Then follows the act of the late semiannual conference upon that strangely contradictory report, "that he (J. W. Briggs) stand rejected from the Quorum of the Twelve, and that he be forbidden to act, etc., until he make restitution to the church."
This act is inconsistent with the several acts cited, inconsistent with its own act restoring Bro. Z. H. Gurley, who occupied identical ground with myself upon this question, which was well known to the church. In his reasons for resignation he says: "I reject the local Zion or gathering in the Doctrine and Covenants."
It is inconsistent with its own act in adopting the report on the Decatur resolutions which report says: "We are further of the opinion, that it is not the intent and meaning of the said resolutions to make a belief in the revelations in the Book of Covenants a test of reception and fellowship in the church."
The single issue now remaining is, I trust, so clearly pointed out and defined, that your perception of truth in the matter, of consistency, of impartiality, and of justice, will enable you to correct the errors and wrongs complained of. The question is not, Has there been a time for gathering, or will there be such a time in the future, but is there now a law in force requiring a gathering to a particular place?
I therefore ask the conference to pass upon this specific question, and justify me on this point, or justify my accusers. While I am not willing to anticipate God upon this, or upon any other subject, I hope to be willing to live in humble obedience to whatever may be his revealed will. And here I rest; in hope for the realization of that spirituality in religion of which Zion is and ever has been the lively symbol. All of which is respectfully and prayerfully submitted. J. W. BRIGGS.
WHELLERS GROVE, Pottawattamie Co., Iowa, April 3, 1880.
This document was subsequently taken up and disposed of by the adoption. of the following:
Whereas, In his letter to this conference, appealing from the decision of last semiannual conference, a decision based upon the findings of the Quorum of the Twelve in his case, Bro. Jason W. Briggs concedes the position assumed by the Reorganized Church on the subject of "The Gathering;" and, Whereas, In so doing, he virtually recedes from the position charged against him on this question, be it hereby
Resolved, That he be exonerated from the disability attaching to him now, so far as such disability results from the findings of the Quorum of the Twelve in his case, and the action of the semiannual conference thereon, in which he was declared guilty of teaching contrary to the revelations of God and the faith of the Reorganized Church on the subject of the gathering.
Provided, That he shall in express terms, recede from the position the Quorum of the Twelve found him guilty of occupying, in antagonism to the church.
The propriety of continuing the Chicago Mission coming up, on petition to have Elder M. H. Forscutt assigned there, it was disposed of after much discussion by the adoption of the following:
Resolved, That, in the matter of prosecuting the Chicago Mission, we refer the entire matter to a committee of three, composed of Brn. I. L. Rogers, G. A. Blakeslee, and Joseph Smith, for them to take such action in the matter as they shall deem proper and practicable.
The following resolutions were adopted:
Resolved, That in the opinion of this conference the ministry who neglect or refuse to be members of branches or districts, are disqualified for serving on missions.
Resolved, That the Board of Publication is hereby requested to have the "Concordance and Reference Guide" revised and printed in or bound with the Book of Covenants, omitting from said Concordance, etc., only such revelations as were ordered by the last fall conference to be hereafter added to the Book of Covenants.
The committee on examination of the report and books of the Board of Publication made a lengthy report containing some severe criticisms on the accounts and books of the board. It was signed by William H. Kelley, G. A. Blakeslee, and Phineas Cadwell, the committee. This was presented to the conference and considerable discussion had thereon. The board was given an opportunity to explain, and after taking some time to prepare they presented a lengthy explanation signed by all the members of the board, viz., Joseph Smith, W. W. Blair, John Scott, H. A. Stebbins, I. L. Rogers. These two statements were placed on record, and both published in the minutes of the conference.
The First Quorum of Priests was organized at this conference, consisting of Rudolph Etzenhouser, Frank Steffe, William Rumel, C. A. Wickes, D. D. Williams, William Crick, D. G. McPherson, S. N. Adams, G. F. Weston, Lawrence Conover, Henry Roberts, and E. L. Kelley. Provision was made for the enrollment of others as soon as their consent was obtained. Bishop I. L. Rogers presided over the organization meeting, and E. L. Kelley acted as secretary; but the minutes do not show any provision for permanent officers.
The Quorum of Seventy reported and asked for the ordination of Columbus Scott and J. L. Bear as members of that quorum and the ordination of Glaud Rodger as senior president to succeed C. G. Lanphear, who had been ordained a high priest. The ordinations asked for were ordered, and took place. These were all ordained on the 14th, when Clarence Saint Clair was also ordained to the office of elder.
The following resolution on the death of Frank Reynolds,
secretary of the Quorum of Seventy, was adopted by the quorum:
Whereas, In the providence of God, our beloved brother, Frank Reynolds, has been removed from us by death, by which we have lost an efficient secretary, and, in common with the church, a worthy member; and,
Whereas, Our loss has been and is in direct sense a still more serious loss to his family to whom his virtues most fondly endeared him, be it
Resolved, That we do hereby tender to his bereaved wife and family our sympathy and condolence, praying for them, that He who has promised to be a "husband to the widow" and a "father to the fatherless" may be their sufficient helper, defender, and guide.
Joseph F. McDowell was elected secretary. The High Priest Quorum reported the condition of quorum and asked that Donald Maule and Eli Clother [Clothier?] be ordained high priests. These recommendations were laid on the table because they were thought to be out of harmony with a resolution requiring the consent of parties before enrolling names in quorums.
Preambles and resolutions were presented, looking to a system of delegate representation in General Conferences. The matter was deferred until the semiannual conference, and it was provided that a committee of five, of which the president of the church should be one, be appointed to prepare a system of representation. The President named as the four members of the committee not provided for, H. A. Stebbins, E. L. Kelley, M. H. Forscutt, and J. R. Lambert.
The First Quorum of Elders reported that it had received into the quorum the following elders: H. N. Snively, Jobe Brown, and I. M. Smith.
The following missions were assigned as recommended by the First Presidency and Twelve:
Thomas Taylor, continued in charge of the European Mission. John R. Gibbs, in charge of the Welsh Mission. Peter N. Brix, in charge of the Danish Mission. Odin Jacobs and R. Peterson, to Norway and Sweden. John L. Bear, in charge of the mission to Germany and Switzerland. James W. Gillen, in charge of the Australian Mission. William W. Blair, in charge of the Rocky Mountain Mission, which mission was created by vote of this conference, embracing Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Eastern Nevada. Josiah Ells, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Edmund C. Briggs, as circumstances permit. John H. Lake, Central and Southern Illinois and Southern Iowa. Joseph R. Lambert, Minnesota and Northern Iowa. James Caffall, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado. Zenas H. Gurley, as circumstances and wisdom may direct. Thomas W. Smith, Eastern and New England States. William H. Kelley, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Canada. Alexander H. Smith, Missouri and Southwestern Iowa. Charles Derry, the Rocky Mountain Mission. Mark H. Forscutt, Northern Illinois. Robert C. Elvin, Nebraska, Glaud Rodger, California. Bradford V. Springer, W. H. Kelley's field. Edmund C. Brand, Rocky Mountain Mission. Robert Davis, W. H. Kelley's field. Joseph C. Clapp, Oregon and Washington Territory. John H. Hansen, Scandinavian Mission, if practicable. John C. Foss, Eastern States. John T. Davies, Southwestern Missouri and Southeastern Kansas. John S. Patterson, Northern Illinois and Eastern Iowa. Joseph F. McDowell, Northern Illinois and Eastern Iowa. Heman C. Smith, W. H. Kelley's field. R. J. Anthony, Rocky Mountain Mission. Charles N. Brown, New York and the Massachusetts District. Davis H. Bays, as his circumstances permit. Morris T. Short, W. H. Kelley's field. I N. Roberts, Kansas. Gomer T. Griffiths, W. H. Kelley's field. George S. Hyde, Western Iowa and Central Nebraska. William T. Bozarth, in charge Southwestern Mission, embracing Western Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Indian Territory. Columbus Scott, W. H. Kelley's field. Gordon E. Deuel, Rocky Mountain Mission. Robert M. Elvin, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. James W. Bryan, Texas. James Brown, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. Alexander J. Cato, Missouri, Kansas, and Indian Territory. Joseph A. Crawford in charge of Southeastern States, embracing Kentucky, Tennessee, Eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. James Perkins, Western Kansas. George S. Yerrington, Massachusetts District. Frank P. Scarcliff, Southeastern States. J. Lamoreaux, Ohio. Hiram L. Thompson, Texas. George H. Graves, Southeastern States. Hiram Robinson, Pennsylvania.
John Eames, referred to president of Rocky Mountain Mission. E. W. Tullidge, under direction of W. W. Blair. Daniel S. Crawley, Kansas and Missouri. Jobe Brown, Iowa, Minnesota, and Southern Wisconsin. Clarence Saint Clair, with M. H. Forscutt in Chicago. Daniel McPherson, with J. R. Lambert in Minnesota and Iowa. Rudolph Etzenhouser, with I. N. White in Iowa. Charles Wickes, Texas and Western Louisana [Louisiana]. George F. Weston, W. H. Kelley's field.
President Smith made statements that investigation had fully exonerated Elders D. H. Bays and A. J. Cato from disabilities attaching at last conference.
Conference for the Pacific Slope Mission convened on April 6, at San Bernardino, California, J. F. Burton presiding, H. L. Holt secretary. A resolution was adopted dividing the mission, which was indorsed [endorsed] by General Conference as before noted.
May 8, 1880, Elder Samuel H. Gurley died at Lamoni, Iowa, and the body was taken to Sandwich, Illinois, where it was laid beside the remains of his first wife, his father, brother, and two sisters. Elder Gurley will be remembered by readers of the history as the one who with Elder E. C. Briggs visited Joseph Smith in 1856. (See volume 3, pages 260, 728, 748.)
About this time the work was given a new impetus in Chicago. A hall was rented and dedicated at 619 West Lake Street, Elder M. H. Forscutt being engaged there as missionary.
On the night of May 26 an armed mob waited upon C. A. Wickes, missionary to Texas, and J. O. Stewart, a local elder, near Manchester, in Red River County, Texas, and at the point of pistols exacted a promise from the missionary to leave within three days. An effort was made to prosecute the disturbers of the peace, but the authorities did not manifest a desire to bring them to justice. A compromise was finally effected between the Saints and the mob. The Saints agreed to drop the case and send the missionary
away; while the mob agreed not to molest the persons or properties of the Saints.
About this time a debate was held at Allegan, Michigan, between an Elder Kenyon, of the Seventh-day Advents, and Elder Columbus Scott. About the first of June Elder James Caffall held a public discussion with a skeptic by the name of Howell, at Coal Creek, Colorado.
About this time Elder J. A. Crawford, who at the last General Conference was assigned a mission to the Southern States, had some difficulty which resulted in his renouncing the church. 1 Soon after this he became identified with the order known as the Christian Church.
Though the Saints at Lamoni had been previously holding meetings in a building they had erected some distance from the town and holding prayer-meetings in private houses in town, there had not been a sermon preached in the town until the early part of June, when Elder John H. Lake, then on a visit to the place, preached in the house of Peter Harris.
On June 10 A. J. Hinkle, son of George H. Hinkle, wrote from Gravel Ridge, Manitoba, as follows:
I have been advocating your organization to this people. Some are not favorable to it, though others are. For my part, I want to work while the Lord is working. There are twelve members here belonging to Sidney's [Sidney Rigdon.-ED.] organization; and there are outsiders favorable to the gospel. We looked for them to come in; but since Bro. Post [Stephen.-ED.) died, they stand back. If it could be that an elder could be sent here, the chances are favorable to build up a branch here.-The Saints' Herald, vol. 27, p. 222.
The following letter from Aalborg, Denmark, June 14, will indicate conditions in Scandinavia:
Bro. Odin Jacobs arrived here May 28, and he stayed here till June 8. He then started for Norway, and in good spirits. June 6, I baptized the heads of a family. Bro. Jacobs assisted in confirming them and we were blessed by the Holy Spirit. One of their sons, about fifteen years of age, gave in his name yesterday for baptism.
1In a letter to President Smith, Elder Crawford assigned as his reason, bad treatment by the membership of his vicinity to himself and wife.
About this time the Elmwood Branch, in Bell County, Texas, was organized by Elder W. T. Bozarth. This was at the home of Elder H. L. Thompson, baptized by Elder D. H. Bays at the time of the marvelous manifestations related by Elder Bays. (See page 230.)
During the last days of June there was a debate held at Scio, Oregon, between Elder Sherrill, of the Church of God, and Elder J. C. Clapp.
On June 29 Elder F. P. Scarcliff, missionary to Southeastern Mission, arrived at Garland, Alabama. He there met Priest George H. Graves, colored missionary lately from Canada. Elder Scarcliff had previously been laboring at Moss Point, Mississippi.
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