In the meantime, though tragedy dogged the footsteps of the church in the West, the newly appointed Stake of Kirtland was sending out missionaries who were meeting with splendid success all through the East.
David W. Patten left Kirtland to go back to New York. He converted his family, or some of them, including his mother, his two brothers, Archibald and Ira, his sister Polly, and two brothers-in-law, Warren Parrish and a Mr. Cheeseman, all of whom still lived around his old home at Indian River Falls. Their baptisms by Brigham Young took place on the 20th of May, 1833.
Before he reached home he had stopped to hold meetings with Reynolds Cahoon near a place called Orleans. They were invited one night to preach in a home where there was a sick girl, who had been ill all winter. No hope was held out for her recovery, and she grew weaker and thinner day by day. The girl's name was Lois Cutler, and her father was the Alpheus Cutler who later became so well known in the church. The preaching was of course held in the room where the sick girl lay that she might also hear. The minister spoke of the restoration of the gospel and of the book that was to come forth, and as he told them of the stick of Judah and of Joseph, and held aloft the Bible in one hand and the Book of Mormon in the other, he clapped the two books together and said, "And they shall be one in the Lord's hands."
Then to the surprise of all present, and especially to her own amazement, Lois clapped her pale, thin hands together and said, "And I believe it." At the close of the meeting most of the congregation went home, but the young folks gathered in the oldfashioned kitchen. Their merry voices and laughter came indistinctly to Lois's ears as she lay in bed and listened to the conversation of the elders. At length she asked for administration that she might be healed.
Immediately the prayer ended, the girl wished to get out of bed. Her mother objected that her feet were not dressed. "Dress her feet," said Elder Patten quietly. "Let her get up." She walked about the room as if she had never been sick. And then of course she felt she must join her young companions in the kitchen, but her mother was all solicitude. She could not let her leave the warm room from which she had not stirred for months, but again Elder Patten urged, "Let her go, it will do her no harm!" Mrs. Cutler put a shawl around her shoulders and she went through the cold hall and opened the door of the kitchen. The laughter and talking ceased while all turned to stare. Lois told them she had been healed by the power of God. Naturally, the news spread far and wide, and not only the Cutlers, but many others joined the church in that vicinity, and Patten left a branch of eighteen as he went on his way. Lois herself, her father and mother, and her aged grandmother were among the number. At the baptism, the girl was surprised to hear the officiating minister say, "The Spirit tells me that Lois is the first to be baptized, and if any of you wish to know the reason why, it is because she was the first to believe."
Happily the future is hidden from our view. Little did Lois know on that joyful day that before many years, she and her young husband would be prisoners in the camp of a drunken mob, and that shrinking in terror she would be compelled to listen to their mad carousing, as they hilariously rejoiced over the death of David Patten,1 the man whose hands she could almost feel in memory again upon her head, as he rebuked the powers of death for her sake. She escaped the mob, and lived for many years, and today, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are numbered with the church.
On this same mission David W. Patten baptized James H. Blakeslee,2 an eminent preacher and proselytizer of those early days, who in his turn brought many to the church. His wife, Louisiana Edmunds was a sister of Judge Edmunds. James H. Blakeslee was born in Milton, Chittenden County, Vermont, July 18, 1802; was baptized at Ellisburgh, Jefferson County, New York, July 19, 1833. The day following, Patten ordained him to be a priest and the next spring he was ordained an elder by Thomas Dutcher. Of his ability as a preacher the third Joseph Smith says, "Elder Blakeslee has few equals and fewer superiors, for the steadiness of purpose with which he preached and the integrity of his testimony has never been surpassed." The Blakeslees moved to Perth, Canada, in 1835, then to St. Lawrence County, New York, next to Waterville, Oneida County, New York, finally to Utica and did not unite with the main body of the church until they moved to Nauvoo in 1843. In his home at the time of his baptism was a seven-year-old lad who was destined to be Bishop of the Reorganized Church: George A. Blakeslee3 who was born August 22, 1826, and shared all the wanderings of the family for the sake of the gospel. Grandchildren, great-grand-children,4 great-great-grandchildren of James Blakeslee carry on his name and work in the church today.
In September, 1833, the church authorities met in council and determined to purchase another printing press. It was:
Resolved, that the above firm publish a paper as soon as arrangements can be made, entitled the Latter Day Saints, Messenger and Advocate.
Resolved, also that the Star, formerly published in Jackson County, Missouri, by the firm of W. W. Phelps and Company, be printed in this place by the firm of F. G. Williams and Company; and be conducted by Oliver Cowdery, one of the members of the firm, until it is transferred to its former location.5
In the month of September, one Freeman Nickerson who had a large and prosperous farm consisting of two hundred acres on Conewango Creek, in the town of Dayton, Cattaraugus County, New York, took a journey to Kirtland with his wife. Elders had preached in his home at various times, and at length he and his wife were baptized. They had two sons working in Canada. They were good boys, and came home very frequently and divided all their earnings with their parents, and although they had tried to explain the gospel to these sons, they had not been very successful. Their purpose in coming to Kirtland was to take the Prophet to Canada to convert their sons! And that is exactly what they did.
On the 5th of October, the Nickersons with Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith started for Canada, arriving at Mount Pleasant near Brantford, Ontario, on October 18. Sunday morning, the 20th, meetings were held at Mount Pleasant and also at Brantford; on the 22nd day they held a meeting by candlelight at Colbum, "though it snowed severely." This was at the home of a Mr. Beman (later a Latter Day Saint). On the 25th they left for Waterford, but had only a small meeting. From thence they went to Mount Pleasant and preached again on the 26th. Found the people "very tender and inquiring." Young Freeman Nickerson and his wife gave their names for baptism. Sunday the 27th had another meeting, and baptized twelve, including both of the sons of Freeman Nickerson. The next day they had confirmation, and Communion (Communion in early days was always served at confirmation services) and baptized two. On the morning of the 29th, two more were baptized and confirmed at the water's edge, and in the evening they ordained young Freeman Nickerson an elder and returned to Kirtland the 4th of November, not an unusual month's work for an old-time missionary pair.
After the return from Canada (December 1), the new press arrived, under the charge of Oliver Cowdery and Bishop Whitney. If the Saints of old had faults, wasting time was not one of them. By the 4th the press was set up and the printers were hard at work setting type for another edition of The Evening and the Morning Star.
Joseph Smith rather naively recorded in his journal: "Being prepared to commence our labors in the printing business, I asked God, in the name of Jesus, to establish it forever, and cause that his word may speedily go forth to the nations of the earth to the accomplishment of his great work, in bringing about the restoration of the house of Israel."6 On December 18, the new press was dedicated in an appropriate manner, and the printers took the proof sheets of the first number of The Evening and the Morning Star to be issued from Kirtland, number 15, volume 2.
About this time a man who had been baptized into the church, and cut off for immoral conduct, began to cause trouble. He was an associate of E. D. Howe in collecting material for his expose of "Mormonism," the first such work published, and the one upon which most others have been based. This man was named Doctor Hurlbut, not that he had any connection with the medical profession, but merely because he was a seventh son his mother conceived the highly original plan of naming him "Doctor," hoping the name might be an omen of coming glory. It wasn't. Doctor was an adventurer, and no name could change him. However, he succeeded in becoming a thorn in the flesh of the Saints for several years.
The troubled ones in Zion were not forgotten, for Elders David Patten and William Pratt were sent as messengers with money, clothing, and provisions. They left the 16th of December, and were until early March making their way to Liberty, in Clay County.
About this time (December 18, 1833)7 Joseph Smith, Sr., father of the Prophet, was set apart as patriarch, or father to the whole church. Slightly over two years later, January 21, 1836, in Kirtland Temple, the First Presidency ordained Joseph, Sr., to be patriarch of the church,8 and in accordance with this ordination and during the same service, they received their patriarchal blessings under his hands. A careful reading of the records indicates that these blessings are such as would be given by a spiritual father to his children--and not infrequently, as in the case of Joseph Smith and John Johnson, the patriarchal blessing was given by a father to his own sons. The work of the patriarchal ministry was not confined to the conferring of blessings. Joseph Smith, Sr., was a spiritual adviser who "fathered" the people, counseling them out of his store of spiritual wisdom.
There were a number of councils held, at one of which the President of the church asked for volunteers to go to Canada, as there had been a number of letters from Nickerson, pleading for help. Six men volunteered and were sent two by two, Lyman Johnson and Milton Holmes, Zebedee Coltrin and Henry Harriman, and Jared Carter and Phineas Young. One of the letters from young Moses Nickerson was printed in the newly established The Evening and the Morning Star for February. It was written December 20, less than two months after the baptisms in Canada. "Your labors in Canada," he said in a letter addressed to "Brother Sidney," "have been the beginning of a good work; there are thirty-four members attached to the church at Mount Pleasant, all of whom appear to live up to their profession, five of whom have spoken in tongues and three sang in tongues: and we live at the top of the mountain!"9
Moses was not altogether easily pleased; he said: "If you can send us a couple of preachers out here, as soon as you receive this, you would do us a kindness..... Send those you have confidence in or none; the work requires competent workmen."
At the same conference a number of the missionaries were sent east to meet in conference in Saco, Maine, on June 13, 1834. As they were leaving soon after the 20th of February, they would have several months free for preaching and baptizing. Young John F. Boynton was in Saco, Maine, at that time, and in a short note to the brethren in Kirtland, reported that he and an Elder E. M. Greene had baptized one hundred and thirty the previous summer.
On February 22, Lyman Wight and Parley P. Pratt arrived from Liberty, Missouri, the first of the refugees from Independence. They spoke the next day at the Methodist Church of their experiences. Both were good speakers, and a feeling of sorrow and sympathy pervaded the whole village.
1 Autumn Leaves, Volume 8, page 315. Lois Cutler married Almon Sherman
and was with the colony that founded Clitheral, Minnesota. She united with the Reorganized
2 Church History, Volume 3, page 756.
3 Church History, Volume 4, page 723. 4 Two great-grandsons are Blakeslee Smith and Vere Blair, both elders.
5 Church History, Volume 1, page 372. 6 Times and Seasons, Volume 6, page 915; Church History, Volume 1, page 379. 7 Millennial Star, Volume 18, page 134. 8 Some confusion is caused by these two "settings apart" of Joseph Smith, Sr., as patriarch. In the private historical collection which belonged to Reman C. Smith is the blessing of his grandfather, Lyman Wight, (original), which shows that Joseph Senior gave patriarchal blessings prior to January 21, 1836. The first paragraph of this blessing reads: "Patriarchal blessing given in Kirtland, Ohio, December 29, 1835, by Joseph Smith, Senior, to Lyman Wight, son of Levi Wight and Sally Corbin, and who was born in the town of Fairfield, Herkimer County, State of New York, May 9, 1796. 'Brother Wight, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I lay my hand upon thee and seal upon thee the blessings of a father, for thy father is dead and has not the power of priesthood.'" The significance of this clause is to be conjectured.
9 The Evening and the Morning Star, Kirtland, February, 1834.