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While the two major missions were progressing so satisfactorily, other missionaries pressed out into every place where they knew old Saints to be, bringing them the story of Young Joseph. Acceptance was general, though many still remained apart, disfellowshiping all religions.
W. W. Blair early visited Manti, Iowa, where he found a little band of Saints under Alpheus Cutler, many of whom joined with the Reorganization. Here he organized a branch of twenty-two, some who had been members in the days of Joseph the Martyr, and others who were new to the work of the restoration of the gospel. Wheeler Baldwin became branch president, and among those in the branch were the Redfields, Wilcoxes, and others. In a short time the branch increased to forty in number. Now and then in his journeys W. W. Blair met with those who were able to confirm his faith in the calling of Young Joseph to his place at the head of the church. This happened while he was visiting Mr. and Mrs. Reals in Manti, on the 12th of March, 1863. Their statement was:
During a visit of Joseph Smith and family in June, 1839, at Mr. Anson Matthews', near Table Grove, McDonough County, Illinois, we heard him [Joseph] say that he sometimes thought his enemies would kill him. "And if they do," said he, "this boy [putting his hand on Young Joseph's head] will finish the work in my place."l
Some of the Saints had joined none of the factions, but remained quietly in their places and waited. Among such were the Lamberts, Richard and Jane, of Rock Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois. When Joseph Smith was killed they both were very young. Richard Lambert was but eighteen when he came from England in 1840, and Jane, who came the next year, was only sixteen. A few years later they married, made a little home nine or ten miles southeast of Nauvoo, and brought up their twelve children unmolested by anyone. As early as 1860 John A. McIntosh brought them the message of the coming of Young Joseph, and one by one they accepted it. One of the sons, Joseph R., was baptized in Nauvoo by James Burgess. He was to become prominent later as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.
Sometime during these years, Thomas P. Green, a local doctor of Jeffersonville, Wayne County, Illinois, with his entire local organization united with the church.2 Undisturbed by the preaching of any and all the leaders who sprang up after the death of Joseph Smith, he had gone on preaching the first principles of the gospel, listening to no new or strange doctrines. As years went by, he organized many new branches in his vicinity and even held twenty-one debates with other denominations. When he came into the Reorganization movement, he brought with him sixty-one members. At a conference in St. Louis, June 25 and 26, 1860, he related so eloquently his experiences through this time of waiting that the house was in tears.
In the summer of 1863 a young soldier just invalided home to Wisconsin from the War was baptized. This young man was Henry A. Stebbins. His uncle, Henry Pease, had been prominent in the beginning of the Reorganization in Wisconsin. Five years later Henry Stebbins began his life of service in the church. He was for many years church recorder, having care of the membership rolls of the church and at the same time keeping up his ministerial work to the very time of his death in 1920.
On the 28th of August, 1864, William W. Blair went from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Syracuse in the same state and began a series of very profitable meetings, preaching each evening and visiting and holding prayer and social meetings during the days. Here he baptized David Griffiths and his wife, Martha Davis Griffiths, who had been first baptized during the ministry of the great Welsh proselytizer, Captain Dan Jones. They came to America in May, 1855, after David Griffiths had served for several years as a deacon in Merthyr Tydfil Branch in South Wales. They were not long in the United States before the birth of their son, Gomer T., on June 2, 1856, and during Blair's visit to Syracuse, he blessed this youngster at the same time that his parents were baptized. This little Welsh lad grew to manhood to take his place in the highest councils of the church, eventually serving for many years as president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
In the spring of 1865, so many left Utah to return to the States that only "skeletons" of former branches remained. Elder Thomas Job, still resident in Utah was not discouraged; he went on preaching, and during the summer organized two more branches, one at Goshen and one at Spanish Fork. Among those baptized in Utah during the previous year was James Caffall, who had been a missionary in England almost from the date of his baptism (1845) until he came to America in 1850, settling in Saint Louis until 1861 and then migrating to Utah. He had not long been in Utah until he became doubtful of the preaching of the authorities in Salt Lake City. Becoming acquainted with the teachings of the church under Young Joseph, and finding there what seemed to him more of the spirit he had known in the church in his native land, he became a member and joined the emigration eastward in 1865. He also was destined to become a powerful representative of the church, going back to England some years later to revisit the scenes of his former ministry with what seemed to him a more glorious message.
The Civil War ended, and with its ending there came from Texas, by a long trip overland, one Andrew Huffman, of the old Texas colony. Harriet Wight, the widow of Lyman Wight, early in 1860 had heard that Young Joseph had come to the church, and she had written for particulars, but before any word could come, communication was cut off between these people and the North. Several of the sons of Lyman Wight and others of the old colony had donned the Confederate gray. Back in New York, unknown to them, their cousins wore the blue. The war cloud was real to these people. Just before the War, Spencer Smith and others had come north. There had been no communication between the two parts of the old colony, and a long life together where they had shared all things common made them a little more than brothers. Andrew Huffman, as soon as he could get through the lines, came to look for these brethren who had left Texas six years before and never since been heard of. He did not know where they were, but he remembered that just before the War he had heard that Young Joseph, whom he had often heard Lyman Wight say would lead the church, had come into his own. He went to Nauvoo.
There he heard that the remnants of the old colony had settled in western Iowa and were now members of the Reorganized Church. He hurried there, taking with him letters from Joseph, asking that Spencer Smith and Hugh Lytle accompany him back to Texas to preach to their friends and relatives there. By July he had reached the loved ones in western Iowa, and Spencer Smith's wife, Anna, wrote immediately:
Manteno, Shelby County, Iowa, July 9, 1864.
Oh, My Dear Mother and Relatives: After long years of trial and separation, how it thrills my heart with joy and satisfaction to have the unspeakable pleasure of addressing that dear name of mother and relatives so dear to me, and if it were possible, rendered doubly dear by affiliation and separation. I will not attempt to tell you of the many feelings of anguish and how much I have suffered on your account....Spencer is thinking of accompanying Andrew home.3
Then followed an account of deaths in the family in New York, of three young cousins lost in the War, and another "very near starved to death in Libby Prison." A postscript added on the 12th of July, says:
Spencer is all ready to start for your place in the morning. I hope he will do much good among my relatives. The man who is going with him (Hugh Lytle) is a very good man. He blessed my babe.4
Going by way of Nauvoo, they arrived in the familiar old town of Bandera, Texas, on August 14, 1865, but immediately upon arrival, both Spencer Smith and Andrew Huffman were prostrate with fever. Hugh Lytle began preaching alone on Sunday, August 20. He preached twice every Sunday and on every Wednesday night. On the 27th he baptized seventeen, and on the following Sunday, fifteen more. Some were received upon their original baptism, and before a month had passed a branch was organized with thirty-eight members, twenty-two of whom had belonged to the old organization and come to Texas with Lyman Wight.
Between the date he left home and the next 28th of January, Spencer Smith had been able to get but few letters to his family, and had received fewer from them. His wife reported with pleasure that what letters she had received had arrived promptly "within four to six weeks after date." Hers were often four months in reaching him, and many of them he never received.
With his companion, Hugh Lytle, conditions at home had been still sadder, for Anna Smith writes on August 23, 1865:
I suppose that ere this reaches you Brother Lytle will be informed of the departure of his companion to the spirit land. Oh, comfort him as much as you can! For it must be a dreadful blow to him, but he will have the consolation of knowing that he is in the pathway of duty and on the Lord's errand.5
Truly our pioneer fathers were made, of stern stuff.
Early in 1866, Hugh Lytle returned to Iowa, having baptized forty-one in Texas. Later in the year, Spencer Smith returned home, camping hopefully in the vicinity of Linn's Mill, three miles from Medoc, Missouri. He expected to find old friends, for on the way north they had spent one winter in Jasper County, Missouri, and he had taken charge of Linn's Mill on Spring River, five miles below Carthage, but he was disappointed to find all his friends had moved away or been killed in the War. Smith had always liked that country and thought could he but have had spiritual privileges there, he would be sorry he had moved on to Iowa.
He had been from home a year. Conditions had changed greatly. "The Pacific Railroad is finished through here, and the cars are running eight miles from here. The country used to be overstocked with grain and provisions. Wheat used to sell for from forty cents to fifty cents per basket. It now sells for a dollar and a quarter, and other things in proportion," he wrote.
And so by magic of modern transportation, western Iowa, one of the strongholds of the church, moved several days closer to headquarters and was no longer a pioneer community.
The progress in the general church was onward. One notable event was the choosing of William Marks as first counselor to the young President in 1863. Joseph had always found wisdom in counsel with Brother Marks, and the aged counselor now began to realize the truth of the promise made years before that he would be a blessing to many people.6
As from all directions men flocked to his standard, Joseph Smith, with rare tact, constantly urging temperance, tolerance, and long-suffering, made of them a united priesthood. There were difficulties, but they were few considering the situation from whence they were being slowly extricated. Of these men he gave a wonderfully correct characterization when he said:
The men of the present are, a great many of them, men who were pioneers in the work in the early days of its commencement; some are the children of those who have fought the good fight of faith and have lain down to rest from their warfare, while some are those who have believed our report and have become identified with the work during the days of the Reorganization. These men have, many of them, suffered grievously for the sake of the cause of the Master and are not yet done with their willingness to sacrifice for the same cause; and all are men who desire the advancement of the cause in truth and righteousness. Their purpose is not to suffer defeat if they can prevent it by honorable means. They regard the men of the past as brothers, and they feel that they have the right to examine the records left for their use and direction and exercise their own right of decision upon them. To inquire into the measures of their predecessors and to decide for the interests of the church, according to the light afforded by the history of the past, the light of the present and their prescience of the future, these men of the present believe to be their duty.
They are, as a class, fearless and free in their discussion of every question with which they have to deal, and there are men of marked piety and ability among the number, able and willing to defend the principles of the faith and doctrines of the church, as left us by the first elders and as found in the books, but unwilling to defend any in wrongdoing. For that reason they do not propose to defend what they feel assured was wrong in the past. They are willing to stand for the right, but will not exonerate the evil doer; he must abide the consequences of his evil doing, let him be whom he may. They are earnest and mean to redeem the character of the church from opprobrium, so far as their lives and influence can do so. . . .
That all the men of the Reorganization are not of the character above described is but natural. Coming out of all the factions, and being gathered up from the various cities, towns, and hamlets where they had waited the passing away of the "cloudy and dark days," it is but reasonable to suppose that there should be men of every possible shade of religious belief that could have obtained during those disastrous years in which righteousness seemed to have been forgotten among the children of Zion. These men, uniting with a common object in view, needed intercourse, long and trying intercourse with each other, in order that an assimilation should be possible. Bravely has this work of assimilation gone on, and well and bravely have the men of the present borne the test required.
Sometimes the people were too anxious to "gather"; he held them back. "Slowly, slowly, they stumble who run fast," he counseled them, continuing patiently on, striving to teach by precept and example that before a people can build the city beautiful they must learn to live together in peace and harmony.
We must be true men, true in all the walks of life, making better citizens, better sons, better husbands, better fathers, better daughters, better wives, better mothers, better men, better women, better Saints.
We must build our houses solidly, to stand for more than a day; we must build our fences, to secure good neighbors; we must strive for the best roads, best bridges, best wells and springs, best towns, best everything of public utility and benefit; doing all our work with a view to its stability.
Our spiritual labor must be of like permanent character. We must preach the principles of life and enforce them by our example. We must carry the news to the ends of the earth, and we must be glad in it ourselves. We must be faithful, sober, upright, and intelligent, and so shall we gain the desired end--happiness here, eternal life hereafter.7
Thus he endeavored to impress upon his people that, important as the building of the city of Zion might be, more important than all else was the building of a people to live there.
1 Memoirs of W. W. Blair.
2 Now the Brush Creek Branch of Illinois, which some years ago celebrated its centennial.
3 Original letter Heman C. Smith collection.
4 Original letter Heman C. Smith collection.
6 See Chapter XLIV.
7 From a series of editorials in Saints' Herald, called "The Situation," published in the latter part of 1871 and the early part of 1872; republished in Church History, Volume 3, chapter 34, page 686; The True Latter Day Saints' Herald, Volume 19, pages 85, 86.
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