Previous chapter Previous chapter Table of Contents Table of Contents Next chapter Next chapter



OF the early life of James W. Gillen we know but little, nor has our efforts at obtaining information been successful.

He was born in Coleraine, Ireland, March 18, 1836, and when quite young he came to America. In his boyhood and youth he worked in a nail factory in Canada. Subsequently he followed school-teaching, and was engaged in this avocation in Western Iowa when he became acquainted with the church.

On December 3, 1861, he was baptized into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, at Little Sioux, Iowa, by Elder Silas W. Condit. It is said that for a time he occupied the office of an elder, but we have not found any record of his ordination to that office. On April 8, 1863, he was ordained to the office of seventy, at Amboy, Illinois; and in April, 1885, he was ordained one of the Presidents of Seventy at Independence, Missouri. In April, 1887, he was called and ordained to the office of apostle of the Quorum of Twelve, which position he occupied until the time of his release.

In the early days of the Reorganization he performed a great deal of missionary service. He was one of the pioneers of the Reorganization in the Western Country, laboring in Utah, Idaho, and on the Pacific Coast.

In 1879 he was sent on a mission to Australasia, where he spent three years, performing faithful and efficient labor, returning in 1882.

He performed missionary labor at intervals for the next five years, until he was called by revelation to the Quorum

(page 705)


of Twelve; and from that time on he labored in the missionary field according to appointments with which he was intrusted.

In 1892 in company with Gomer T. Griffiths he was assigned to the European Mission, where he spent about a year.

After his return to America he labored principally in the Western States, especially in what was known as the Colorado Mission, until the fall of 1899, when he offered his resignation as a member of the Quorum of Twelve, since which time he has disappeared.

So far as we know none of his family, nor his former friends or acquaintances, know of his whereabouts. The resignation was accepted by the Quorum of Twelve at the General Conference of 1900; presented to the conference which also accepted it. The resignation is as follows:

"The First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve, Dear Brethren: After carefully and prayerfully considering the matter, I have come to the conclusion that it will be for the best interest of the church and myself to withdraw from the Quorum of Twelve; so I hereby tender my resignation, and ask to be released. My reasons for this course can be briefly stated: For some time past my physical powers have been giving way and at times my mental powers seem to have been affected to a degree, that I fear a complete collapse at any time. I need absolute rest, and dare not attempt to engage in the work of the coming conference. There are others that are better adapted to that position than I am, and I feel that I may be standing in the way of abler and better men. I love the work and desire to see it prosper, and for this reason I desire to see the best men that the church can afford, stand in that Quorum. I therefore ask to be released therefrom, believing that the church and the work can be better served by some other man.

"May God continue to superintend and direct the work of the Quorum, not only in the coming session, but in all their work, until the Master comes, is the earnest desire and prayer of your brother,


"KANSAS City, Missouri, November 13,1899."

(page 706)


And the resolution of the Quorum of Twelve accepting his resignation reads as follows:

"Whereas, a degree of mystery surrounds the disappearance of Bro. J. W. Gillen, and his present whereabouts are not known, making it impracticable to obtain from him any information regarding his resignation other than what is conveyed in the document containing it, and

"Whereas, conditions confronting us seem to justify and wisdom to direct immediate action, therefore,

"Resolved that while regretting the necessity for such action, we accept his resignation as a member of the Quorum of Twelve."

Elder Gillen was married to Miss Nancy Ann Moore, August 12, 1867, at Malad, Idaho. Seven children were born to them, namely, James Arthur, now a resident of Louisiana, occupying a responsible position with W. R. Pickering; Nellie Clara, deceased; Amos Byron; Martha Elnora, now Mrs. J. D. Briggs residing near Lamoni, Iowa; Celia Alice, now Mrs. S. E. Ballou of Lamoni, Iowa; Wilber David, who follows successfully the occupation of school-teaching in Washington; and Lulu Audentia, who resides with her mother in Lamoni, Iowa.

Elder Gillen was a man of more than ordinary capabilities, and when actively engaged in the ministerial work was considered an able preacher.


I was born September 27, 1850, in the town of Zodiac, now extinct, near Fredericksburg, Texas. I am the third son and fourth child of Spencer and Anna C. Wight Smith.

My early childhood was spent in Texas, moving from place to place, or sojourning in different places with my parents as they followed the fortunes of the colony under Lyman Wight, my grandfather. In 1858 we left Texas, and the summer of the same year stopped in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, where my father followed farming and milling until the autumn of 1860, when we removed to Jasper County, Missouri, near Galesburg, and wintered there.

(page 707)


During that winter there was much excitement of a political character, and hostilities were threatened. Not desiring to be upon the borders at this time, my father decided to go further north; and as soon in the spring as it was possible to start by team, we were on our way for a more congenial clime, leaving the neighborhood where we had sojourned, but a few weeks before a clash of arms occurred at Carthage, the county-seat of Jasper County. We proceeded northward until we reached Gallands Grove, Shelby County, Iowa.

In Shelby and Crawford Counties we resided the remaining part of my childhood and youth.

During our residence there, the representatives of the Reorganization in the persons of W. W. Blair and Edmund C. Briggs, visited us. My father for a time stood aloof from the Reorganization; but after a few years accepted its claims. I was baptized on the 7th day of October, 1862, by Elder William H. Kelley. I was prompted to this action by my own convictions, and not by solicitation on the part of my parents or any one else. On the following day I was confirmed by Elders William W. Blair and James Blakeslee. In the confirmation when Elder Blair said, "If faithful your voice shall be heard in the mountains to the salvation of many souls, and thousands shall yet rejoice that they have heard your voice." It had a familiar sound to me; for I had been told that when a child I was blessed under the hands of my grandfather, these same words were used by him. In after years, however, this prediction served rather to retard my spiritual growth than to encourage me; for I had no desire, but rather felt a repugnance towards a missionary life, and hence fear that if I complied with the conditions I might be required to occupy, kept me from being as faithful as I might otherwise have been.

In 1870 my parents and younger brothers and sisters removed to Nebraska, I remaining in Iowa, laboring from place to place as opportunity offered and interest demanded. In the winter of 1873 and 1874 I became more deeply impressed with a desire for a more complete consecration of my life to the service of God; and with this came the impression and testimony that I was called to the ministry.

(page 708)


I kept this to myself for months sometimes struggling against it, and sometimes having a desire to occupy in that position; yet feeling that I was inadequate. I devoted myself to the study of the text-books more than I had ever done before. While attending preaching services at Gallands Grove one Sunday in that winter, Elder John A. McIntosh delivered the discourse and remarked, "There is one in this congregation who is called of God to preach his gospel, and he feels it now like fire in his bones, but is trying to get rid of it but he never will." I felt sure that this was intended for me, and was afterwards informed by Elder McIntosh that such was the case. On the 14th of the March following I accepted the office of elder at the Gallands Grove District conference, held at Harlan, Iowa, on recommendation of the Gallands Grove Branch, being ordained by Elder John Hawley and others. I immediately entered into the ministerial field as an appointee of the district conference, not thinking at that time that I would ever labor in any other capacity; but in the autumn of 1874 when Joseph R. Lambert of the Twelve came into our district, he stated at the conference that he was impressed to select me as a colaborer. To this the conference agreed, and I traveled with him in Iowa during the autumn of that year and in the winter went with him to Kansas, where I labored in Atchison and vicinity for some weeks, and visited Independence, Missouri, in connection with Bro. C. F. Stiles, and did some preaching in that vicinity.

At the annual conference of 1875, Bro. Lambert was assigned to Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana and Kentucky; and, I suppose, in accordance with his recommendation I was appointed to labor under his direction. I accompanied him to Southern Indiana, laboring a part of the time with him, and all the time under his direction. I was associated in labor with Elders Columbus Scott, M. T. Short, and others. At the annual conference of 1876, 1 was appointed to labor in Nebraska, and after concluding my labors in Indiana, I repaired to that field. At the semiannual conference held near Council Bluffs, Iowa, I was

(page 709)


ordained to the office of seventy under the hands of Apostle James Caffall and others. I labored in Nebraska and Kansas until the semiannual conference of 1877, at Gallands Grove, Iowa, when I was appointed to the Southeastern Mission. I immediately started for that field. I first labored with Elder John H. Hansen in Kentucky and Tennessee, thence went further south into Alabama and Florida; first laboring in old fields where the work had been established, then extending the work westward into Southern Mississippi, where it has been permanently established ever since. Here I was assisted by Elder L. F. West, and Priest James Faulk. Later I extended the work into Eastern Florida where it had not before been presented. In this mission I was accompanied by Priest David Donaldson. The work there, though we were to some extent successful, and a branch at Gainesville was organized, has not since been kept up. I remained in that field without returning home until the spring of 1880, when I attended the annual conference at Plano, Illinois, and was appointed to labor under William H. Kelley in Michigan, Indiana, and Canada; and during that summer labored in Michigan and Indiana, returning to the West for the semiannual conference of that year, where I was appointed in charge of the Southwestern Mission, and was continued in this capacity until the annual conference of 1886. For a part of the time I was the sole appointee in that large field, comprising Texas, Western Louisiana, Arkansas, and Indian Territory.

At the annual conference of 1885 I was ordained the sixth president of Seventy at Independence, Missouri, and continued to occupy in this office until 1887. At the same time of my ordination to the presidency of the Quorum, I was appointed secretary of the Presidency, and also secretary of the Quorum; and served in these positions as long as I was connected with the Quorum.

At the annual conference of 1886 I was appointed in charge of the Pacific Slope Mission. Prior to starting for my new field of labor, on June 2, 1886, at Independence, Missouri, I was united in marriage to Vida E., oldest daughter of Alexander H. Smith. This has proven to be a wise selection, and

(page 710)


the experiences consequent upon this relation have been to me entirely satisfactory.

My wife accompanied me to California; and after a year of travel together, we located at San Bernardino, California. At that place our four children were born, namely, Heman Hale, Vida Inez, Anna Earlita, and Lois Elizabeth. I remained in charge of that field until 1892. Elder T. W. Smith was associated with me in charge one year.

During my missionary work in this field, by the revelation of 1887, I was called to the position of apostle in the Quorum of Twelve; but not being present did not receive ordination for nearly a year. I was ordained at Independence, Missouri, March 30, 1888, by President Joseph Smith and others. Shortly afterwards I was made assistant secretary of the Quorum, in which capacity I served until the disability of Elder T. W. Smith, when I was appointed secretary, which position I still hold.

At the annual conference of 1892, in connection with T. W. Smith, C. R. Duncan, and John Kaler, I was appointed to the Australasian Mission; but for reasons set forth elsewhere we were prevented from going.

At the annual conference of 1893 I was assigned in charge of the entire Southern field, including the Southeastern and Southwestern Missions. I remained in this field during the years 1893 and 1894. In 1895 and 1896 I was in charge of the Rocky Mountain Mission; but in the latter year was not permitted to enter into my field, as I had been appointed, in connection with President Joseph Smith, to write the History of the Church. These volumes are the result of this appointment. For five years, from 1895 to 1900, I acted on the editorial staff of the Herald as corresponding editor.

At the annual conference of 1897 I was appointed Church Historian, which position I still occupy. And at this same conference I was appointed in charge of the European Mission in connection with Elder F. G. Pitt. I spent one year in England and Wales, returning home in August, 1898, leaving my colaborer in charge by appointment of the General Conference. The remaining part of that year and the next year I was associated with J. R. Lambert in Iowa.

(page 711)


At the annual conference of 1900 I was placed in charge of Northern Illinois and Wisconsin, which charge I still retain, the states of Michigan and Indiana having been added at the annual conference of 1902.

Retrospectively viewing my life and life-work, I do not discover that there has been anything very extraordinary for good or evil. Conditions and environments have probably had much more influence upon me than I have had upon them.

In 1893 I removed my family to Lamoni, Iowa, where we now reside an unbroken family, death not having invaded our circle. My aged mother, who has been a widow since 1879, and whose experience with the church dates from the first year of its existence, now occupies our home with us.


Joseph Luff, son of John and Ann Garbutt Luff, was born October 31, 1852. His early childhood was spent in Toronto, Canada, the city of his birth, and the circumstances were such as to deprive him of opportunities to gain an education only to a limited extent. Through unfortunate circumstances his support devolved upon his mother, by whose labor himself and brother and sisters were sustained.

In relating the circumstance of his mother nursing and caring for sick and dying at the time of the great cholera scourge and small-pox epidemic, he pays the following tribute to her, which we record here as an evidence of his affection and love for his mother:

"What son would not feel his blood course more warmly through his veins as he listened to the recital of his mother's bravery? The thought of that mother moving to and fro among the dead and dying, performing the humble services that looked toward an alleviation of human agony, facing the deadly peril that threatened, without a single thought of self, while thousands of stronger women and men were fleeing for life before the face of the stalking pestilences, was an inspiration that gave birth to holy resolve within me. Others may point with greater assurance to distinguished names and

(page 712)


titles along their ancestral lines and boast of honored lineage; but to me my mother's self-sacrificing devotion to humanity's interests during those perilous months is evidence enough of royal blood. I say it unhesitatingly, that a hundred times in my early life I have been kept from doing improper things by the thought that I bore that mother's name."

Extreme poverty rendered it necessary that Joseph should labor as soon as he was old enough, to help support the family; and he saw many hardships and endured many privations in the days of his childhood.

Being very mischievous, he often got himself into difficulties; and though from reports we have we think he never was to a great extent immoral, though he fell into some pernicious habits.

On May 24, 1873, he was married to Miss Janet Parker, daughter of John and Elizabeth Parker, of London, Canada.

He had previous to this learned the printer's trade, and, in connection with a partner, had established quite a prosperous business. He had also been converted and had united with the Methodist church, and had become quite a popular local preacher, with many solicitations to enter the regular ministry, but for reasons had not done so.

Sometime after, his wife's parents, who were in London, while his business and residence were in Toronto, had united with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, sent to their daughter, Mrs. Luff, a leaflet containing an epitome of the faith of the church. This was carefully read. Other tracts followed until Mr. and Mrs. Luff became considerably interested. They were also visited by William Clow, whose wife was a sister of Mrs. Luff, and who had become identified with the church. In relating the conversation which occurred between them, Elder Luff says:

"I tried to oppose the doctrine mildly. He allowed me to select my own scripture, and then seemed to take delight in applying it for me. Subsequently Mrs. Luff went on a visit to her parents, and while in London became convinced of the truth of the doctrine, taught by the church, and wrote her husband for consent to be baptized. Mr. Luff wrote her to

(page 713)


be sure she was right, and then act, as she was her own agent. She was accordingly baptized, and a short time after Mr. Luff went to London, and began an investigation of the doctrine which had been espoused by his wife. He relates that he procured a Book of Mormon and shut himself up in the parlor to read it; and while thus engaged says, "I was visited several times by as peaceful an influence as ever pervaded my frame. The words before me seemed to be filled with a something that in an indescribable way took hold of my intelligence and elicited my approval in frequent ejaculations." Still he was not satisfied and continued his investigations. He relates that at one time during a prayer-meeting he mentally prayed that if this was the church of God, and it was his duty to unite with it, that it might be made known to him, and that he might know whether the peculiar influence which attended him in his investigations was really the Holy Spirit. He entreated further, that the revelation might come through his wife's brother, Robert, only ten years old. He says that no mortal heard that prayer. The result is related by Elder Luff in the following language:

"When the number so desiring had prayed vocally, the company rose and was seated, and the singing and testimony were resumed. Soon Robbie, as he was familiarly called, stood up and began to speak as any child of that age would in testimony. He had not uttered many words till his face became waxen and the tears started from his eyes and flowed profusely down his cheek, and turning till he faced me, he raised his hand and said, as nearly as I can remember: 'Verily, thus saith the Lord God unto you, O son of man, Go now and obey my gospel, for this is indeed my church. It is my will that you shall be baptized at the hands of one of these my servants, for you have received of my Spirit, saith the Lord.'

"Here was just what I had asked for. It had come through the channel I had designated. It had brought the very information I had desired. I knew the lad was not aware that I had asked for it, and I believed he had not

(page 714)


power in himself to frame the answer as it was given, even though the question had been known to him."

He accepted this; and on the 22d of May, 1876, he was baptized by Elder J. J. Cornish. He returned to Toronto and continued his business, resigning his position with the Methodist Church, and meeting much opposition in consequence of his withdrawal from that connection.

Elder John S. Patterson visited Toronto; but conditions were not favorable and but little was done. Subsequently a branch was raised up through the especial instrumentality of Elder Luff.

August 8, 1876, he was ordained an elder at Toronto, Canada, by Elder John S. Patterson, and at once became a zealous defender of the faith. Though sorely tried at times because of difficulties existing in the church in Canada, he continued faithfully to contend for the right.

In March, 1879, he left his home in Canada, and attended the annual conference of that year at Plano; and during the summer of that year worked in the Herald Office at Plano, preaching in Plano and vicinity as opportunity offered. In the autumn of that year his family joined him at Plano; and at the semiannual conference, he was appointed in connection with others to Utah. Having had but little experience, the wisdom of his going to that field was questioned by several. Nevertheless he went, and acquitted himself creditably.

He continued in the active ministry the principal part of his time from that on, and quickly took rank among the best preachers of the church.

In October, 1879, prior to his starting to his Utah field, he removed his family to Independence, Missouri, which has been his home ever since. He labored in the office of elder until 1887, when by the revelation of that year he was called to the office of apostle. He was ordained to this office April 13, 1887, by Joseph Smith and William H. Kelley, and at the present time is still occupying in that position.

For several years he also served as assistant secretary of that quorum. At his own request he has been released from the latter position.

(page 715)


He has performed other important services for the church, too numerous to speak of in detail, including acting as editor of the Saints' Advocate for a season; editing Zion's Ensign for some time; and serving on the editorial staff of the Herald at different times.

His health has not always permitted him to be as active in a ministerial way as he otherwise might have been; but his interest in the truth and its success has not waned.


My father, David Griffiths, was born in South Wales, about 1805. He was married to my mother, Martha Davis, in 1835; she was born in Llandovery, South Wales, on February 12, 1819. They united with the church during Captain Dan Jones' first visit to Wales.

My father was ordained a deacon, in which capacity he acted for a number of years in the Merthyr Branch. In May, 1855, they emigrated to America, and settled in the mountainous regions of Eastern Pennsylvania. In 1857 they removed to Syracuse, Ohio. Here in the early days of the Reorganization they became identified with it, under the ministrations of Apostles James Blakeslee and W. W. Blair.

My father was soon afterwards ordained an elder, which position he filled at the time of his death. He died at Bevier, Macon County, Missouri, December 26, 1871, strong in the faith, and testified in his dying hours, he had the assurance given him by the Spirit "That he would come forth in the resurrection of the just." During the thirty-six years of their married life, fourteen children were born to them, six of whom survived him, three sons and three daughters. My mother still resides at Bevier, waiting patiently the summons calling her to her happy eternal home, to join the loved ones gone before her.

I first saw the light of day in Minersville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, June 2, 1856. I was blessed by Bro. W. W. Blair; was baptized April 22, 1877, at Canton, Illinois, by Bro. Jeremiah Jeremiah (a seventy); was ordained a priest on the same day. During the last of the summer and fall of

(page 716)


that year, I traveled for a short time with Bro. W. T. Maitland, he preaching, and I acting as helper. In the winter I visited Bro. Larkey at Ironton, Iowa. Bro. Larkey was quite advanced in years, and a very faithful brother. One Saturday morning he informed me that an announcement for preaching had been made at Hickory Grove Schoolhouse, a place about five miles distant, and that he and I would go and fill the appointment. I told him I had never preached, neither was I able to do so; however, that evening found us at the place appointed. The idea that I was to be spokesman was far from my mind; in fact, I gave the matter no thought. The schoolhouse was packed with people with only a few Saints present. Bro. Larkey opened the services in the usual way, and started to preach as I supposed, but he only talked a few minutes and then introduced me as the speaker of the evening. I arose to my feet without the slightest idea as to what I was going to speak about; and had it been possible would have rushed from the place.

After rising a text impressed itself very strongly on my mind, and I started. I had been speaking as I thought only a short time, and was very much surprised to learn, that I had spoken forty-five minutes. After learning this fact, I felt very much encouraged, and readily understood the Lord had assisted me. I was very grateful for the help thus vouchsafed to me. I was also inspired with much confidence to trust God in the future. At the close of the service Bro. Larkey announced me as the speaker for the following Sunday.

Previous to this time I had always disliked the hymn, "Nearer My God to Thee," and always did my best to shun the use of it. The audience on the Sunday evening was composed chiefly of Presbyterians and their leader started the singing with this good old hymn. Such a change was wrought in me that I thought I never heard anything half so sweet in my life, and since that occasion, it has always been a great favorite with me. It seemed to cause me to realize the close relationship that should exist between God and his ministry. From that period all my time has been devoted to preaching.

(page 717)


The Lord has remembered me in his loving kindness. To his name be all the honor and glory.

In January, 1878, I was ordained an elder by Bro. E. M. Wildermuth, at Inland, Iowa. Shortly afterwards I went to Canton, Illinois, and met with the Saints in the Kewanee District conference. At this conference I was appointed a mission in connection with Bro. Joseph A. Crawford. We traveled together some time. We called at Colchester, Illinois, and spent a short time with Sr. Lucy Milliken, sister of Joseph the Martyr, who treated us with every kindness and consideration. Our next point was Tennessee, Illinois, where we held forth for some days in a Baptist church building. Whilst there we were joined by Elder William B. Smith, with whom we visited Sr. Catherine Salisbury, sister of Joseph the Seer. I then went to Missouri and traveled exclusively in the Northeastern Missouri District; labored much in Salt River, where a good sized branch of the church was raised up, and where I had the pleasure of baptizing quite a number. I desire to relate some incidents that happened during one of my visits to this place. At the close of my discourses four married men made application for baptism. Bro. D. Winn was one of the number. On the Sabbath following, we repaired to the water's edge to administer the rite of baptism. I led three of the men into the water and baptized them without any interruption whatever, and likewise led the fourth candidate to the same place as I had the others. Just as I was in the act of performing the ceremony some one called my attention to the man, who appeared to be in a fainting condition. I began leading him out of the water, but before I reached the bank he revived and requested me to take him back. This was repeated two or three times, when suddenly he stopped, and placing his hand to his mouth removed a quid of tobacco and said, "Take me back. I am all right now." I then baptized him without further trouble.

Another time, Bro. David Winn had a little girl who had pined away to a mere skeleton. Her father requested me to administer to her. I went to his house; but after I saw the

(page 718)


child's condition I was so convinced that the little one could not live until morning that I did not administer. The child was still alive next morning and I felt led to administer to her, which I did. About three months after this I was present at a quarterly conference at Salt River; while there saw Sr. Winn. She led a fine looking little girl by the hand and asked me if I knew the child. I acknowledged I did not, and was much surprised to learn that she was the same little girl I had given up for dead three months previous. Our heavenly Father in his abundant mercy had completely restored her to health.

During my early experience in the ministry, I returned home from a preaching tour, to Bevier, Missouri; had only just arrived at my mother's house, when a little boy came to the door, asking me to go quickly to his mother's house, as his little brother was in a very bad state. Of course I honored the summons, and found the little boy in a spasmodic fit. He had been subject to these fits from his birth, and had now reached the age of seven years. I administered to him, he was healed, and has never been troubled with anything of the kind since. He is now a young man, and can testify to this miracle. He is a son of Bro. John Morgan, of Bevier, Missouri. There were many such incidents in those days, all of which tended to confirm the word preached, and to increase my confidence in the Lord.

In the spring of 1879 I labored with Bro. William B. Smith, in the Northeastern and Northwestern Districts of Missouri. I was with him when he visited Far West Temple Lot, and preached on the corner-stone of the Temple. He took for his subject, "What is a Temple;" and delivered one of the finest and ablest discourses on that topic it has ever been my lot to listen to. I am thankful I had the privilege of traveling with "Uncle" William, and my testimony is that he was a noble and faithful man, one of the kindest and best of friends. I received much encouragement and assistance from him in my efforts for the Lord. It was also my good fortune to become associated that year with Brn. A. H. Smith and William T. Bozarth, and R. Etzenhouser, all three

(page 719)


of whom took an interest in my welfare and assisted me greatly with their good counsel. I have always felt a warm feeling in my heart for these brethren, and shall always remember the pleasant hours we spent together.

In the fall of the year I attended for the first time a semiannual conference at Gallands Grove, Iowa. I was not only very agreeably surprised to see the large number of people present, but stimulated to press forward in the work I had espoused; it was encouraging to me to be associated for so many days with such good, cheerful, happy people.

At this conference I was ordained a seventy. After I returned home from conference I passed through a terrible time of darkness, almost doubting the call that I had received because of my conscious inability to magnify the office; but the Lord in his mercy shortly afterwards gave me abundant evidence of the divinity of the call.

An incident which seemed remarkably strange, to me at that time, happened one day as I was preparing to set out on a short preaching tour. I was waiting for a train to take me to a place called Macon City; and while pacing to and fro on the platform of the depot, I heard a small voice, saying, "You will yet be called to be one of the Lord's apostles." Needless to say, this caused a very peculiar sensation to come over me; and I candidly admit I did not have any faith in it, and was inclined to believe it was given by the powers of darkness, with a view to put vain thoughts in my head calculated to cause my downfall. Nevertheless it made such a strong impression on me that I could not throw it off.

In the spring of 1880 I was sent to Canada under the direction of Bro. William H. Kelley. Went from Plano, Illinois, where the conference was held, to Galien, Michigan. Was accompanied to that place by Brn. G. A. Blakeslee (who afterward became Bishop of the church), Heman C. Smith, and Morris T. Short. Bro. Blakeslee directed our labors during our sojourn there. We were to bombard the town from three different points. My position was about two miles from town, where I was to hold forth in a schoolhouse. I must confess that I did not accept the situation with any

(page 720)


degree of satisfaction or pleasure, but felt it my duty to obey the injunction, and soon began operations.

The second night after my arrival at Galien I had a dream in which I saw myself fishing beside a small stream. I thought I caught eight fish varying in size and form. Some were excellent in quality, others not quite so good.

After I had been preaching about two or three weeks, I extended an invitation for baptism. Eight persons responded. Among the number were Bro. John Shook and wife, of Buchanan, Michigan. Both have been faithful warriors for Christ ever since.

In June, 1880, in company with Bro. C. Scott, I arrived in London, Canada. Labored there until early spring of 1881. During this time I baptized about thirty. I attended General Conference, at Plano, Illinois, in April, receiving a mission from there to Missouri and Illinois. On the nineteenth of this month I was married to Sr. Hattie A. Robbins, of Worcester, Massachusetts. We have had seven children given to us, four boys and three girls; five of whom await us on the other side, leaving us Martha L. and Hattie to still comfort and cheer us.

At the semiannual conference of 1881 I was reappointed to labor in Canada, under J. H. Lake. In April 1882, my appointment was Pennsylvania and Ohio, under Bro. Josiah Ells. I was chosen to preside over Pittsburg [Pittsburgh] and Kirtland District, which office I held for a number of years.

In the spring of 1887 I was chosen and ordained an apostle and appointed with Brn. W. H. Kelley and E. C. Briggs in associate charge of New England and Middle States. From 1888 to 1892 I was placed in charge of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. In 1892 and 1893 I was associated with J. W. Gillen in charge of European Mission. In 1894 was reappointed in charge of my former mission. In 1895 was reappointed to European Mission, associated with Bro. James Caffall. In August of this year I visited Iceland. In 1896 was placed in charge of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Northeastern Kentucky.

For the past nineteen years I have been constantly engaged

(page 721)


in missionary work. Have been instrumental through the help of the Lord in bringing into the fold several hundred. Have striven to do all work required of me, incidental to ministerial labor.

Note by the Historian.-Since writing the above Elder Griffiths has been constantly engaged in the ministry. A part of the time laboring in Ohio and adjoining States, a part of the time on Pacific Slope, and making two more trips to the British Isles. His present appointment is to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. His home is at Kirtland, Ohio.

(page 722)

Previous chapter Previous chapter Table of Contents Table of Contents Next chapter Next chapter